How Studying Abroad Can Improve Your Life
Travel is a huge part of opening up our world and expanding it from just the nine to five job or the endless class and study hours. It’s so easy to find ourselves wrapped up in the box that we’ve created for ourselves.
And even if we have a good social life, our world could still use some growth. So whether you’re an undergrad or in graduate school, studying abroad is a great way to open up opportunities for jobs and experiences.
Have an interest in traveling to Italy or France? Well this can be much more than just a cultural experience. Studies show that studying abroad can make you more likely to land the job. It was shown that 73 percent of employers believe that having a job candidate who has studied abroad is important when evaluating their resume. But you might wonder why that is. How can spending time in sunny Italy and eating pasta almost every night make you more valuable as a potential customer?
Well apparently, 90 percent of employers say that if you’ve studied abroad, you’re more likely to have desirable traits and skills that others don’t have. Maturity, flexibility, independence, cultural awareness, and cross-cultural communication skills are just a few of them. Another can be if you took a strong interest in mingling with locals and gaining knowledge of their language that could mark you down as a strong applicant in their notes. Being bilingual (or having a good competence of another language) is a huge plus, but I suppose that goes without saying.
Getting hired, especially right out of college, can be hard these days. Just because you have a degree, it doesn’t mean you’ll get the job you want right away. So why not enhance your resume and make your odds more favorable?
EXPANDING YOUR WORLDVIEW
So much of the time, we get enwrapped within our own mindset and our own world. We have a select number of people in our lives, whether on Facebook or in school that share viewpoints very similar to us. In fact, culturally speaking, if we don’t travel (or at least learn about other countries), we’ve already put ourselves in a box. And who can blame us, we’ve all grown up with similar values and mindsets that our society has deemed as normal and acceptable. It has also outlined the ones that aren’t as well.
So when you travel and study in another culture, and explore their way of life, you’ll be able to see beyond what you’ve been raised with. When you make friends in that country, you’ll be exposed to their ways of thinking and doing things. No longer are you only hearing opinions expressed by friends on Facebook, you’re now able to see beyond the customized world that social media makes for us.
You won’t just be able to relate to a certain political viewpoint that you made in high school or at home. You’ll be able to see a different side of things and know how others feel on the subject. And maybe you’ll learn of a new set of values or cultural mindsets that can benefit you later on down the road.
This sound obvious, I know, but connections are so important. When you make close friends in other countries, you’ll only be benefited with great experiences and someone to see again in the future.
Not to mention that you’ll be able to travel back to that country and be housed by someone you’re close with instead of staying with strangers in a hostel or an expensive and impersonal hotel.
Need I say more? Alright, I’ll expand if you need me to.
Whether you’re going to Spain or Japan, the cultural food in so many countries is amazing. Think of all the dumplings and meat (or veggies, I won’t forget you vegetarians), you’ll be able to pack away when eating dim sum. Or those amazing tapas dishes at that one great restaurant down the street.
It’ll expand your palate… or your waistline… it could go both ways. That and when you come back home and go out to eat with friends, you’ll probably look a lot more cultured and cool when you know exactly what to order off the menu. Just saying.
EXPLORE YOUR HERITAGE
You’re from Ireland? Awesome! Your roots go back to South Africa? Great! Look for classes that have study abroad opportunities for your home country. For many people, this may not be a huge interest of theirs, but if you know your heritage, why not explore it? Why not go back to where your ancestors came from and learn something about your past?
Learn about your country’s festivals and holidays. Learn about their food and cooking (and eat it too). Learn about the history and cool facts about your people. Explore the beautiful nature and sights. There can be so much to learn about your family’s past and what life for them was like.
Alright, so I know this one is true for many, including myself. I get in the rut of writing and researching so much that it’s easy for me to feel stuck emotionally and mentally if I don’t make a change. The next day doesn’t seem so great when you know exactly what to expect.
So if you’re up for a change of pace and something new, then studying abroad can be a great way to refresh and reset your mind. You’ll be able to let your mind air out as you get out of the normal schedule you’ve been in for a while.
Having a break from the ordinary and expanding the brain beyond what it’s used to can benefit your future productivity and motivation. Because when you come back, you’ll be recharged and ready to take on your goals and life again.
A lot of us have a support network or structure in our life that makes us feel safe. We’re used to depending on certain people or staying in our comfort zone when it comes to certain activities and mindsets.
But when you study abroad, you’re breaking yourself free from that mold. That parent or sibling won’t be there to help you out with the laundry or errands. And that friend won’t be there when you want to go out and explore. You’ll be able to grow in your independence and be more comfortable in your own decisions. You’ll find that you can be more in control when doing things solo which will help you when you come back from your trip.
LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
As it was said earlier, this can be helpful if you want to be more hirable. Employers favor those who have a good understanding of a language or are completely bilingual. They know you’ll be able to help customers who call up the company or come in and don’t speak the same language. That and if you have another coworker that speaks that same second language, it’ll give you a better opportunity to make a connection with them which could help you out in the future.
But besides career aspects, learning a second language when studying abroad can help your mental health for years to come, help you succeed more in classes, give you the ability to communicate in a few countries, and so many more benefits.
So the next time the opportunity arises or you have the desire to study abroad, go for it! Think of all the amazing adventures and experiences that others won’t have the benefits of learning or knowing.
You might even have a new inspiration when it comes to your life goals and career choices.