You heard about the compelling advantages of studying in foreign country and let's face it, it does sound very tempting. Most of the time people bring up that study abroad programs:
It is not easy to imagine such incredible study abroad success stories if you were not there yourself. Also studying abroad must have some disadvantages as well, or it's just the fairy tale you hear all the time? You may maintain a healthy doubt regarding the benefits of studying abroad, but now you got a bug in your ear and you started wondering: could you do it yourself?
Reasons to study abroad
In order to make an educated decision, you have to see the big picture. We provide you with the full guide about the possible benefits of participating in a study abroad program. You already have a list of personal reasons to study abroad, now try to imagine how the following points apply to your life.
Studying abroad ideally moves you far out of your comfort zone. Especially if you study in a foreign country without being able to speak the local language and/or the host culture is widely different from your cultural background.
Studying abroad tests and improves your ability to:
Experience something new
Love for variety is coded into our genes and as an interon various levels. You may develop a new career path or an improved, interculturally adjusted version of your past ideas, a new hobby or a completely new lifestyle. You meet local and international students who will introduce you a range of activities you have never heard about before. This is your ultimate chance to expand your vision and find what you truly enjoy in life.
Travel around the world
One more reason to study abroad now is that when you work full-time, it is less likely that you can just pack your bag and discover the world along with getting the taste of the international student lifestyle.
Among the biggest advantages of studying abroad you see the world for yourself. All the wonderful monuments, historical architecture and breathtaking landscapes become real, it is like you were watching discovery channel but you can use all five senses to enjoy the trip. It does not matter if you walk by the sea or you take a sightseeing tour downtown: if you listen carefully, you can sense history coming to life and feel the cultural values radiating from every inch of your environment.
During your study abroad program you are not limited to travel only in your host country, most likely international students will organize trips together to the neighbour countries. In this case the rule of thumb is that more is better, because studying abroad is about exploring the world.
If you really want to invest in your education and career, well, studying abroad is the way to go. There is a clear tendency that after a study abroad program you are much more likely to do an internship or work in a foreign country.
Your international experience will prove your ability to work with an intercultural team and that you can bring in cosmopolitan ideas for both local and multinational companies. So in short, hiring managers will be impressed with your globally competitive resume, especially if you know how to sell your international experience.
Being part of an international academic community is a great networking opportunity. Once you studied abroad, you have plenty of motivation to fuel an international career anywhere in the world. If you plan to work abroad after studying abroad, you will most definitely enjoy the benefits of having a young, intercultural and professional network all over the world.
Students with the ambition to become entrepreneurs especially love networking. Every and any idea from an international or local student may detonate that particular lightbulb in your head, and the next year you make the startup of the decade. The study abroad experience is a promising environment to nurture ambitions and meet like-minded people.
Improve your intercultural competence
A significant advantage of studying abroad is that you learn to appreciate cultural diversity and you learn how to communicate effectively and in an appropriate manner with members of different cultures. You will know how to interact and achieve results in an international workplace as well.
Immersing in a cross-cultural milieu means that you gain a deep understanding of the culture-specific
thinking, values and behavior of your host country and your international groupmates. As an
international student you will be able to see through the lenses of different cultures. It is
impossible to acquire intercultural skills from books, thus you must live abroad to truly understand
culturally diverse settings. When you study abroad, sometimes you won't even notice that you
learnt something, you just experienced it. You pile up cultural experience through traveling and
engaging in meaningful conversations with local and international students from other cultures.
The daily international communication becomes a routine task and as you gain more experience on the field, and soon, you will be able to use your intercultural communication skills at work in any country, in any combination. The more distant cultures you get to know in depth, the higher level of tolerance you may reach.
Forming lasting friendships with international students from different cultural backgrounds is a massive benefit of studying abroad. In a culturally mixed academic community you make dozens of new acquiantances in a matter of days. You just have to keep an open mind and get ready for an avalanche of online friend requests coming in from international students.
Having dozens of friends from other countries really shrinks the world. It is an amazing experience to welcome international friends in your home country and you bet you will travel to visit many of them after you finished your study abroad program.
What about love and relationships? The group dynamics in an international student community provides an ever changing environment, that is exciting and often passionate. You may be looking for true love, a serious relationship or shorter affairs while studying abroad - rest assured, you have great chances to find at least one of the above three (if you are up to it).
Get a new perspective through cultural differences
One of the greatest benefits of studying abroad is that you learn more about yourself than ever before. Different cultures will provide with new ways to interpret both your home culture and personality. Based on that you can develop an internal compass to help you thrive in a culturally diverse world.
During your study abroad program you get to know the culture of a foreign country and you become a part of its history and traditions. It is a real eye opener to constantly compare the new environment to your home country and your own culture to different cultures. When you walk on the streets of Paris, Berlin, London, Sydney, New York or Moscow, you notice every single difference and make a mental note and incorporate them into your personality. You recognize the seemingly familiar pieces of architecture and behavior and you feel home for a moment, then you understand that even though cultures are so different, you have a piece of every culture in you.
The vibrant changes between feeling culturally unique and universal while studying abroad are shaping your character. Bit by bit you tolerate more cultural diversity and you will be more objective about yourself. International friends are able to define and refine your perception about different cultures, if you are willing to listen to them. Exactly these international conversations can get your personal growth to the next level. It has never been easy, but it's within your power to make it happen.
While studying abroad there is a thin line between growing independent and being a child again.
The weight of independence
You may get funds from your host university or the government, your family may provide financial support or you pay for your international education from your own pocket - the results will be more or less the same: if you have never lived alone, you grow up during your study abroad program. At the beginning you are surrounded by strangers, so are forced to start everything from scratch. If you have never paid for bills, did groceries, cooked at home, washed your clothes and dishes on a regular basis, well, now you will. After a 6-12 months long study abroad program you will see yourself as a much more independent and mature person. Even if you will party the whole semester abroad, you must do your own laundry.
Studying abroad is fun: wake up the inner child
Years after you finished your exchange semester or year abroad program you tell your stories to your parents, friends or colleagues at work, and you feel like you had your second childhood as an international student.
On your first study abroad program you feel like a child for several reasons. You have to rebuild your life abroad alone, you have to explore everything once again. You sense a supportive, exciting and fast changing environment, that wakes up your curiousity. With a childlike imagination you simply cannot count the opportunities ahead of you. You learn to dream big again and you actually see the means to achieve those dreams!
And what else children do? They have loads of fun. Studying abroad can be pure fun if you have the right attitude and you prepare for the study abroad experience appropriately.
1. Think: what would make you pack your bag right now?
In order to answer these questions you need to take the time to think about your own goals in life, because studying abroad works best for you if you believe that it's going to help your life in the long run. There could be a million people saying to you that you should study abroad because of this and that, but it's going to be a waste of time unless you have your study abroad arguments aligned with your life goals. In this article we guide you to find some reasonable reasons to study abroad, so bear with us!
2. Write down the pros and cons of studying abroad
Take a pen and a piece of paper. Draw a line in the middle and start to list the advantages of studying abroad on the left and the disadvantages on the right. Gather at least 5-10 arguments in favor of studying abroad and list 5-10 disadvantages that would potentially stop you from becoming an international student.
3. Prioritize the items on your list
Give weight to the listed study abroad advantages and disadvantages. Write a new list where you put the most important factors first (or number your current list). Also, you have to test each item the following way: is it just a general thought or it really applies to my situation?
Vote for the long term goals! Think about how your decision may change your personal and professional life in the future.