Studying abroad is an incredible once-in-a-lifetime adventure. You’ll meet new friends, explore iconic locales, and experience a whole new culture by actually living it. You’ll have the opportunity to hone your foreign language skills, savor foods you’ve never tasted before, and, essentially, open your eyes to a different way of viewing the world. Depending on the program you select, you also can acquire hands-on professional experience (think local job or internship) and make priceless contacts that will help with your career after graduation.
There are other aspects of study abroad to consider. What about the expenses that come with your international experience, like tuition fees, housing, food, airfare, and transportation. The financial costs can add up fast, putting a good dent in your already student-size wallet. What about the fact that you’ll be away from family and friends for an extended period of time? On your own; in a foreign country, is study abroad worth it 💰?
Besides being an extraordinary experience, 🏖beyond the fun you’ll have and the memories you’ll make 📸, spending time in another country has an unmatchable, lifelong impact on your personal and professional growth.
Of course, the benefits of studying abroad will be different for everyone. Truthfully, for some it will simply be an expensive vacation. But for others – hopefully you – it will be a life-changing and eye opening moment in your life that forever shapes your future. Keep reading and you’ll discover the tremendous benefits that study abroad can offer to you.
7 Ways Study Abroad Impacts You Personally
You may be surprised at how much study abroad can help you learn and grow as a person. It can boost your confidence, teach you how to be self-reliant, help you improve academically, provide you with greater cultural understanding and tolerance, and generally improve your international perspective. And that’s just a few examples. So how does it enrich and expand your personal horizons?
1. HELPS YOU IMPROVE ACADEMICALLY
I think we all agree that education is the primary focus of any study abroad trip.
Because the academic experience varies throughout the world, studying abroad is a great way to view a different style of education first-hand (e.g. how your host university is structured, length of academic terms, emphasis on assignments vs. exams, how homework and grades are handled), and maybe see a side of your major that you wouldn’t have been exposed to at home.
At a foreign university, learning will take on a whole new perspective, one that’s likely to have a positive impact on your studies.
According to a study by the University System of Georgia, students studying abroad saw improved overall GPAs when they returned home. While abroad, those students became responsible for their academic success by learning to manage their time and utilize better study methods.
Afterward, the benefits were undeniable as they found writing term papers and studying for exams at their home university to be a breeze.
For those seeking a higher level of education, the academic benefits are just as compelling with 90% of study abroad students getting into their first or second choice for graduate school.
Like future employers, grad school admissions boards look for candidates who will introduce a unique aspect to their university- and that’s exactly what study abroad students bring to the table.
College graduates with global experience have demonstrated that they aren’t afraid to seek out new challenges or face difficult situations. They have proven that they have the curiosity and academic acumen to be leaders in graduate school.
And if you’re at a place in your academic life where you are feeling a bit unmotivated, perhaps a change of scenery or lifestyle is the boost you need to re-energize your studies. UC San Diego research has shown that your potential for graduating in four years is likely to ramp up if you study abroad.
2. BOOSTS CONFIDENCE AND IMPROVES SOCIAL SKILLS
Think about it. How can you travel to a foreign country, possibly where you don’t speak the language well, live and study in a culture with which you’re unfamiliar, and form lifelong friendships with people you don’t know?
Just the fact that you’re getting on a plane to undertake all this is a feat in itself. Studying abroad may sound intimidating at first, but it quickly becomes the adventure of a lifetime, and a fabulous one at that. Seriously, if this doesn’t build confidence, nothing will. Maybe that’s why 96% of study abroad alumni say their experience helped them expand friendships and build their self-confidence.
Speaking of friends, you will meet people from all over the world – other international students, your fellow students, local residents,
professionals – many of whom will become your friends for life. The connections you form during this special time will be with you forever and may open exciting new doors for you for future employment and travel.
On a similar note, after stepping outside your comfort zone, your newfound confidence may help you feel a little bolder at home, as well, and make it easier to make new friends when you return from your time abroad.
3. GIVES YOU AN APPRECIATION FOR NEW CULTURES
Life moves at different paces in different places around the world. Wherever you choose to have your study abroad experience, you’ll come to appreciate a new way of life. It may move at a faster pace than what you’re used to or it may be more relaxed and slow. Either way, it’s exciting and enlightening to be introduced to a lifestyle so different from your own – one that’s brimming with incredible new foods, customs, social perspectives, and traditions.
4. LAUNCHES NEW INTERESTS AND HOBBIES
This is the perfect time to try something new. Make travel a favorite pastime and explore other locales and landmarks around your host city. Try playing a new sport. Explore new cuisines and learn to cook your favorite dishes. It will be fun to bring your newfound expertise back home and share it with family and friends. This is your chance to think outside the usual box and open yourself to new experiences. So get out there and explore.
***You’ll notice I linked the entire paragraph to Cameron Zbikowski’s interview. He ended up spending two years down under because he fell in love with rugby, and was able to replicate a ‘high school life’ with the spice of college. #jealous
5. PROMOTES SPIRITUAL GROWTH ✔
You probably never thought much about this, but many foreign countries have unique religious perspectives. If that’s the case in the country where you will be studying, consider it a great opportunity to open your heart and your mind and reflect on a way of life that’s dissimilar from your own.
6. TEACHES MONEY MANAGEMENT ✔
Living abroad helps you to understand finances and how to manage them. No one wants to run out of money thousands of miles from home. By allocating funds for things like groceries, field trips, social events, and shopping, you’ll become a budgeting expert. And that’s a skill that will serve you well back at home and throughout your life, as well.
7. IMPROVES LANGUAGES SKILLS ✔
Communication is a vital component of traveling abroad, both in coursework and socially. What better way to perfect your chosen foreign language than by immersing yourself in it. While you’re abroad, talk with university professors, your fellow students at school, shopkeepers, the local residents. Your host university probably also will provide more formal language courses. Use every opportunity to become proficient. Later, fluency in a foreign language can make you a standout with potential employers.
Ways Study Abroad Impacts You Professionally
In today’s competitive economy, it’s more vital than ever to stand out from your fellow job applicants. The time you spend studying abroad can give you the edge you need to do just that and make your dream job a reality.
1. CHANGES AND BROADENS YOUR CAREER GOALS
Did you know that participating in a study abroad program can make a difference in your future career goals?
In fact, reshaping the way students think about their career plans is the #1 impact of international education.
Study abroad gives you a fresh look at the world we live in and how your actions and interactions with people from other cultures really has an impact. In other words, it helps you reflect and re-evaluate the role you want to play in the world through your chosen career.
Here’s the breakdown of how study abroad impacts students’ career plans:
A positive study abroad experience also could bolster your desire to work in another country once you enter the job market.
Today, a whopping 58% of students who have studied abroad are actively pursuing careers in other countries. And their chances of succeeding are fantastic. 8 out of 10 HR executives say that international experience is a determining factor for overseas job placement within their companies.
Good to know if your sights are set on employment in a foreign land.
2. INCREASES MARKETABLE SKILLS
Research shows that studying abroad provides students with “above and beyond” qualifications that improve their chances of landing a position after graduation. During your time overseas, you will gain a plethora of highly marketable skills that can boost up your hiring factor such as:
- The ability to work with diverse groups of people
- Management techniques and time management
- Problem-solving; teamwork and interpersonal skills
- Cross-cultural communication skills
You’ll also acquire some very desirable personal traits like:
- Respect for others
- And don’t forget about one other big plus – fluency in another language.
These are the skills that make employers stand up and take notice and distinguish you from the competition. Study abroad gives you them all.
3. INCREASES YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING THE JOB YOU WANT
The global exposure provided by study abroad programs provides you with some of the most beneficial opportunities for jump-starting your career.
Employers overwhelmingly agree that international experience is important to them when evaluating job resumes.
It’s certainly something that catches their eye and increases your chances for that crucial first interview. Once you meet with your potential employer, the door is wide open for you to initiate compelling conversations about your impressive credentials.
Employers place a high value on the cross-cultural experience and strategic international understanding that study abroad alumni possess. And they appreciate having an employee with substantive content or technical knowledge of their field of business, particularly if that field influences the global economy.
Are you still asking “why study abroad?”
Let me answer that with two words – Higher Salaries. According to UC Merced, study abroad students earn 25% more than their peers who stayed home to complete their degrees.
And here’s a final good reason: Ultimately, the salary scale for an employee with international experience is progressively more than that of someone without it. Study abroad will more than pay for itself as your life progresses.
Of course, the economic price of studying abroad will vary among programs and destinations. So don’t let affordability or, more specifically, lack of it, deter you from this life-changing experience.
If cost is in issue, look into the many options available for financial aid (scholarships, loans, grants, internships, job programs), check out destinations and schools that cost less (like China, India, or Puerto Rico, for example), or consider staying for a summer, rather than an entire semester or year.
Here’s another money-saving tip:
If your credit card charges foreign exchange fees, get an International Student Identity Card. It offers international student perks, discounts, and benefits in 130 countries. They even have an app that allows you to search for deals. Finally, if all else fails – and if you’re willing to take the time – you can always build in a gap year to help get your finances and plans in order before pursuing your higher education overseas.
An advisor in your study abroad office is the perfect resource to help you with all these aspects of planning your trip. Just remember that the cost of NOT going abroad is the same no matter where you decide to go, how long you want to stay, or what program you choose.
It’s more evident every day that forgoing the study abroad opportunities we have discussed may significantly reduce your chances of success in the ever-globalizing world we live in.
Remember, bi-lingual is quickly becoming the international norm and multi-culturalism the new standard. Studying abroad can provide the advantages that help you get to the leading edge of it all.