Many college students look into studying abroad at some point, whether it’s a study abroad fair, stopping into their study abroad office, surfing the internet, or simply talking to friends and/or study abroad alumni. I had been looking into study abroad since stepping foot on campus, but didn’t have a clue as to where I wanted to study, probably because I wanted to go everywhere, and still do!
I can almost 100% guarantee that if you talk to anyone who studied abroad they would tell you that it was the best experience they had in college and that it will be for you – no matter where you go. Studying abroad is arguably the best decision I made during college, as I know it was for many others. That being said, why should you study abroad?
See the world – Almost everyone wants to travel somewhere during their lives. However, the two weeks vacation most jobs in the U.S. afford people is hardly enough time to take an extended trip. How does living in a foreign country for a summer, semester, or year sound while being able to travel that country and its surrounding countries? To me, it sounds like a dream. You’ll be able to indulge in your host country’s language, food, and traditions while possibly traveling to nearby places as well.
It costs about the same – Contrary to urban legend, studying abroad for a semester costs just about the same as it does to study at a university in the U.S. The program I went through was roughly the same cost as a standard semester’s tuition at my university. Now, there are some programs that cost more, but if you’re looking for one that costs the same, they are out there. You just have to look for them. It’s easy to study abroad on a budget as there will inevitably be plenty to do and see for next to nothing wherever it is you decide to go.
Learn another language – Depending on the country you choose, you will have the opportunity to learn another language – Spanish, Italian, French, German, …. The options are nearly limitless. Learning another language opens up more doors than you can imagine, whether it’s a job in the U.S. or overseas after college or just being able to communicate with a whole other group of people once isolated by a language barrier. I’d argue that even if you go to Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand that you would still be learning a different dialect of English, even though it’s not quite learning a whole new language.
Impress future employers – Study abroad, no matter what anyone tells you, will boost your resumé. It looks impressive to employers and, as long as you can talk about it with them, may even give you an edge over other candidates. I know that for me it helped me get my first job out of college as my interviewer was impressed and asked me questions about my study abroad experience. If you study abroad where another language is spoken, you may impress a potential employer more, even if you are not fluent in that language, because it shows you can survive and prosper outside of your comfort zone by not fully knowing the language of the country you are living in.
Get to know yourself – I learned an incredible amount about myself during my time studying abroad. I gained more confidence in my abilities to survive in the real world and learned that I would be okay if I stepped outside of my comfort zone. Heck, I even flourished. You will make friends with people from all over the world who you have more in common with than you initially thought and expand your world view. You will become a global citizen and spread your knowledge, acceptance, and respect of world cultures to others who have not been afforded the same opportunity and make the world a more tolerant place.
Once in a lifetime opportunity – Studying abroad through your university is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Outside college, there are very few programs that allow you to live in another for an extended period of time without having to jump through the passport/Visa issues, which your university and program will help you navigate for studying abroad. While I have never heard a past study abroad student say they regretted their study abroad experience, I have heard plenty of college graduates who have not studied abroad say they wish they had. Think about that for a second if you’re even contemplating studying abroad. Look into it. Research it. Do it. You will not regret it.
Have you studied abroad? Where? Why should others study abroad? What are some other reasons people should study abroad?