How Studying Abroad Can Change Your Life
You have already read about the inspiring experience of Judy Su and Ellen Wall who studied in Denmark. Both of them enjoyed the time spent abroad and advice you to go for it as well. However, you may still think – how will I actually benefit? What studying abroad can give me and how can it influence my personal development? Our great big world is getting smaller by the day. The Internet allows us to connect with people and cultures around the world with almost no effort. In fact, you probably already have social connections with people of different races and in different countries.
So, why is studying abroad so life-changing?
Make New Connections
Although Twitter and Pinterest might connect you with people around the world, there is nothing better than actual face-to-face interaction. Study abroad allows you to finally meet all those people in real time. In addition, you can make new friends with people who are very different from you, giving you better perspective of your own life. And, you can make important connections that will help you become more successful in your future career.
Become Fluent In Language
According to the Department of Labor, translators and interpreters are expected to be one of the top 15 fastest growing occupations in the nation over the next 20 years. In fact, a study by MIT showed that learning a foreign language brings in an average of 2% more annual income, with more exotic languages (Chinese, Arabic, Russian) earning considerably more. By studying abroad, you get the best possible language training by being fully immersed in your language of choice. You’ll have more earning potential and a better chance for employment upon graduation.
Find Out Who You Are
Odds are good that you have spent most of your life in one country, one state, or even one city. You may not have had a lot of opportunities to try things outside of your comfort zone. Studying abroad gives you the option to try new things in a relatively safe environment where there are few impacts on your “regular” life. That means, if you try something and fail (or don’t like it), it won’t matter as much as if you were back at home with the people you grew up with.
Learn To Be An Independent Leader
Studying abroad is a perfect way to learn the ropes of being on your own. You’ll learn great life skills of making travel appointments, connecting with local help resources, and getting a job. You’ll learn to know what you want and how to get it through skills of discipline, hard work, and determination. By the time you come home, you’ll have more motivation to succeed and leadership skills to bring people along for the ride.
Studying abroad is not always easy. It can be frustrating experience as well. You might feel homesick. School tasks, policy and life in general might be totally different in your host country than in your homeland. Don’t stress. Studying abroad gives you the opportunity to use these trials as tools for growth. And, when you return home, you’ll have a much better perspective on what are “real problems” and what are “mere inconveniences”.
Gain Global Perspective
More than any other lesson, study abroad teaches you that your actions never happen in a vacuum. By living in a different culture, you realize that human experience is universal. You’ll find out that people who look and think differently share the same core values and priorities as you do. And, you’ll also discover that people who are geographically separated still have incredible influence on each other. This global perspective will help you be a more compassionate leader and also will make you a better employee and citizen in future.
Studying abroad is often spoken of by college students as one of the most “life-changing experiences” they had during their course of study. The reason for that is learning new skills in new environment, which eventually last longer and are more relevant in your life than those you obtain during regular college classes.
What do you think you could gain from a study abroad program? Have you completed one already? What advice would you give a new student preparing to study abroad? Please, share your thoughts with us!