There are countless benefits to studying abroad during your time in college. Here are our top nine.
- Take Unique Classes/Learn In a New Environment - Studying abroad guarantees a plethora of course your school doesn't offer, giving you an opportunity to branch out beyond your requirements. It also gives you the opportunity to be immersed in the city where your courses originated; think art history in Rome, Kafka in Germany, or agriculture in Costa Rica.
- Gain Confidence, Independence, and Other Life Skills - You are guaranteed to be met with new challenges during your time abroad. Overcoming unforeseen obstacles in a foreign country will teach you more about yourself and the world than you can imagine, giving you confidence to tackle challenges that come your way later in life. Whether it is going to the doctor, updating your visa at the Immigration Office, or negotiating with your non-English speaking landlord, each experience will make you more independent, resourceful, and confident.
- Learn a New language - There is no greater personal accomplishment than learning a new language, and there is no better way to become fluent in a new language than by immersing yourself in its home country. As a perk, learning a new language is incredibly beneficial for your brain. Studies suggest that bilingual speakers have greater executive function, or the ability to filter out unnecessary information and make more pragmatic decisions.
- Gain Work Skills - Most study abroad programs offer the opportunity to participate in an internship during your semester – don’t waste it. If you plan on working at an international organization post-graduation, interning abroad will teach you how to effectively conduct business in a different country and will develop your cross-cultural communication skills; making you a more competitive employee in today’s globalized economy. It also may help you land your dream job faster. For example, Mexico and Chile both have excellent tech start up scenes, but are not as competitive as San Francisco. Even if you don’t plan on taking a job overseas after graduation, working abroad will teach you invaluable skills including being adaptable to different customs, mannerisms, and values.
- Meet New Friends from Across the World - One of the biggest takeaways from your semester abroad will be the diverse group of lifelong friends you make along the way. Join a local club or sports team, attend local events, or explore outside your city to build close relationships with locals and other international students. Whether they are a teammate, a weekend travelling companion, or a late-night study buddy you can be sure to build lasting relationships during your time abroad.
- Gain a New Perspective of the World - “The world is a book and those who don't travel read only a page.” – St. Augustine of Hippo. Between classroom lessons, conversations with helpful locals, museum visits, and history lessons from cab drivers, you will gain a wide range of knowledge about your host country that will likely vary greatly from the culture you grew up with. You will return home with a more critical eye and broader perspective of the world. If you’re like me, you will catch yourself analyzing how individual cultures and political systems evolved, and why they are in place, rather than accepting everything as the norm.
- Find New Personal Interests - Whether it is a hidden talent for the Tango, a new favorite sports team, a passion for surfing, or a love for the theater, studying abroad offers exposure to a wide range of new activities and interests that you may never have discovered back home.
- Travel the World - Most study abroad programs include a long mid-semester break, which is meant to encourage students to travel. Forget about seeing the world after you retire, there is no better time to travel than as a dirt-poor college student. Sleep in hostels, eat street food, party all night, catch-up on sleep during eight-hour bus rides, change your plans on a whim, and create some of the best memories of your life.
- Because Why Not? - Put your worries and apprehensions aside. No one’s ever regretted an adventure. And if the cost is holding you back, check out these financial aid and scholarship opportunities. So what are you waiting for? There's a world out there ready to be discovered.
Are you faculty or staff at a U.S. College or University hoping to create or expand study abroad opportunities for your students? We're currently offering grants to grow study abroad programs at U.S. higher education institutions. Learn more about our global study abroad initiative and our Western Hemisphere-focused study abroad initiative. Stay up-to-date by following @PartnersAmerica on Twitter using #GrowDiversityAbroad.