Though there are countless other reasons to study abroad, below are what I consider the most compelling reasons to seek out a program. I hope you will find this collection motivating enough to consider going on your own study abroad adventure. When and if you decide to take that plunge, my guide, “Real Advice For Study Abroad”, will lead you through the process from choosing a program to reintegrating once your return home. Enjoy!
1. Escape Your Routine: Taking a break from the tedium of traditional schooling, and stepping away from your day-to-day can be a freeing experience. Studying abroad allows you to escape your routine while still earning college credit. It’s like going to school on vacation! During your time abroad, you will have the chance to gain the perspective it takes to appreciate who and what you have in your home country. Meanwhile, you’ll have the chance to live it up in a new and exciting location experiencing things you simply couldn’t without getting away.
2. Grow as a Person: Functioning on your own in an unfamiliar place will bring out countless valuable qualities in your personality. Not only will you become more self reliant and independent, but you’ll also learn to be flexible as you adapt to your location of study. Also, You may note a boost in confidence as a result of your new-found independence. These traits, among others, will be evident long past your return home, and will aide you in all aspects of your life.
3. Improve Your Foreign Language Skills: Surrounding yourself with native speakers can be extremely beneficial to your language learning process. Thinking and speaking in the local tongue will become second nature to you, as you are forced to apply your skills to real-life situations, every day. Without a doubt, your comprehension, vocabulary, and confidence will bloom over the course of your visit. If you’re a language major, these experiences abroad will give you a leg up on your peers, in the classroom and in the job market.
4. Broaden Your Perspective: There are few things more evident in those who return from abroad, than their astute tolerance for those different from themselves. On your journey, you will have the chance to see the world from another peoples’ eyes, and in today’s world, global knowledge is a commodity. Seeing how another people view subjects such as historical events, global issues, politics, religious ideologies and culture can grant you an entirely new perspective. Also, as a citizen of your homeland, you can help shed light on the outlook of your own people, and help to banish any stereotypes that you may encounter on your trip.
5. Try New Things: From exotic cuisine, to foreign music, to unusual forms of transportation, there will be new things every day for you to try and do while you’re abroad. Use your time away as a chance to disentangle yourself from the norms of your homeland. Wear the eccentric garb of a new culture, play a sport you’ve never heard of, and take a bite of that, whatever that is. Stepping out of the box and becoming open to new things will change the way you perceive everything around you.
6. Lend a Helping Hand: Those in need around the world depend on good-natured people like you to aid them in their struggle. Luckily, there are many opportunities for students to do volunteer work while abroad. Some programs, such as NSCS Academy Abroad – Thailand, have community service aspects built right into their schedule. Not only would these philanthropic experiences look great on your résumé, but will allow you serve those less fortunate than yourself.
7. See The World: Around the globe, there are an abundance of places to study abroad. Whether you are interested in seeing famous artwork, bright market places, historical landmarks, or beautiful landscapes, you can plan your trip accordingly. There’s no reason not to go, when financial aid can potentially shoulder the costs. Furthermore, many programs have weekends off, perfect for localized excursions. More structured options tend to offer field trips built around the schedule of their curriculum. Whichever type you choose, you will have ample time to explore your surroundings, and seek out what interests you.
8. Explore Your Heritage: Taking a trip back to your ancestral homeland can be an eye opening experience. In fact, there are thousands of cultures for you to immerse yourself in, comprising of unique customs from the glamorous to the bizarre. Any country you choose, despite your origin, will offer you a plethora of enlightening encounters to help you understand who you are, and where you belong in the world.
9. Become More Marketable: Studying abroad offers so many opportunities to gain the skill necessary to pump up your résumé. Who knew a vacation could help you stand out amongst the sea of applicants currently competing for jobs? From proving your independence, flexibility and talent in overcoming challenges, to taking the initiative to volunteer while on your trip, every experience can add to your appeal. Moreover, foreign language skills are proving increasingly vital in the ever-growing global market. If these reasons weren’t enough, you may have the chance to develop a network of friends while abroad, who you may use as references or business contacts in the future.
10. Follow Your Dreams: International travel is something that many people aspire to do, but never have the chance to accomplish during their lifetime. If this is one of your goals, during your time in college is the perfect time to see it through. Financial aid can help you get to places you wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. The opportunity is simply too good to pass up. Take a minute to think of your dream destination, and then ask yourself, “Should I go?” The answer is absolutely yes!
I hope these 10 reasons have inspired you to look into studying abroad. In my next segment coming out next week Thursday, “Real Advice For Study Abroad Part 2: How To Find the Perfect Program“, I will show you how to choose a program that will go above and beyond your expectations. If you have any questions of comments, don’t be afraid to leave them below.
Until next time,
“Self-proclaimed “Francophile” Jessica Longshore is a sophomore French major at Western Illinois University. On Campus, her involvement includes being a member of NSCS, a Centennial Honors College member, and Vice President of Western’s Ambassadors for Study Abroad (WASA). During her free time, she likes to cook, do her nails, and write. She is also looking forward to studying abroad in Cannes, France this coming fall, and blogging about her travels.”