It may be that it is only recently that you have been considering studying abroad or it could be that you’ve been considering it for some time. Whichever the case, you’ve probably heard or read by now that studying abroad will change your life. Well, this is true. But, what is far more important is how it will change your life. Traveling across the world and taking some classes will not change your life if you are not prepared with an open mind to all of the new amazing experiences that are about to come your way.
Read on for the top six ways that studying abroad will change your life- for the better! Then, go buy that ticket and make the leap. You’ll thank us later. And make sure you send us a postcard!
1. It will make you more independent.
If you are considering studying abroad, the chances that you’ll live with and attend the exact same classes as a current friend are slim. But don’t worry, this is actually a good thing for learning and life changing experiences! Plus, you probably won’t have family in the new country you are heading to. This means that you will be entering into this new world on your own. As a result, independence will be thrust upon you.
But don’t be scared. While this may be intimidating at first, it will get easier. Over time, being independent will become second nature. Knowing how to look after yourself, and doing so confidently, is a skill that will stay with you for the rest of your life. One day you might want to buy a house on your own. You may have to attend an important job interview on your own. The independence you learn through studying abroad will aid you in both of these things and more.
This independence will likely be quite fun when you are feeling happy and settled. However, it is only wise to be aware that you may not feel like this all the time. Homesickness is very common, no matter your age or how ‘tough’ you think you are. Similarly, if you become sick or go through any personal challenges like a breakup, you won’t have your usual support system to rely on.
However, it is nothing but true that getting through hard times on your own is character building. It makes you a better person, a stronger person. Further down the line you will look back and be so proud of yourself for managing it alone. Don’t forget also that you will make new friends when you study abroad. These new people will become your support system. If anything, your new friends may even more comforting and helpful if you let them in because they are experiencing a similar thing.
2. It will open your eyes to new cultures.
Often, when you study abroad, you are placed in housing with other students who are also studying abroad. What does this mean? It means that you are in close proximity, every single day, to people from other countries. You may have a roommate from China. There maybe two students across the hall from Finland and Australia. You may share breakfast one morning with a girl from Ecuador, lunch with a girl from South Africa and then dinner with a girl from Japan!
You will learn many new things about different cultures, from tiny details through to huge culture differences. For example, you’ll learn what people eat for breakfast in each different country. In Ecuador, an apple and a glass of milk are common. But in England, they love their tea and toast.
You will also see bigger issues shaping the world such as political or economic issues and you’ll never view certain news items the same way again. This leads to all sorts of interesting conversations and debates. From the tiny things to the bigger things, you will learn about others but also learn a lot about yourself and what you really think about important issues of our time. Be open to these conversations and allow your own perceptions (or prejudices) be challenged or even reshaped.
3. It will impress employers for years to come.
Even though you are studying at the moment, a career is likely on the horizon. Being able to add that you studied abroad will impress employers for many years to come. Why? It demonstrates your flexibility and your character. It shows you are a high achiever and well organized to plan out your studies and travel at the same time. It shows you have initiative and can adapt to new situations quickly.
It also shows you are bold and brave. You had the strength of character to leave the people and places familiar to you behind for a new experience. Not to mention that it provides a fantastic talking point in interviews. Studying abroad is a privilege that only a handful of people get to experience. As a result, it is something that people will always want to ask questions about. When answering these questions, give a balanced view. You don’t need to pretend it was all perfect. People will see through that right away. It is far more valuable to talk through what you learned, both the good and the bad.
It’s not just employers that will be impressed, but clients too. You can wow clients with your different stories and experiences. One day you may even work with a client who is from the location you studied abroad at. This will give you an instant connection and give you a great start!
4. It will immerse you in a new language.
We’ve already mentioned that studying abroad puts you in close contact with new cultures. In doing this, it also puts you in touch with something else. New languages! It could be that you are already bilingual; being immersed in new languages will only improve your skills. But if you only speak one language, even better. Being around different languages, it is only natural that you will start to pick things up.
If everyone is speaking the same language – say English, for example – everyone will occasionally use their own words. This might be just to say little things, like ‘thank you’, or ‘what?’. But hearing these new words and languages will affect you and you’ll start to learn new words without even realizing it.
You never know, you might be so inspired by a particular accent or dialect that you want to dive in and try to become fluent by the time you leave. You could find a course, but you also potentially have a free teacher in the form of a new friend. Offer to do language swap lessons a couple nights each week. Meet for a drink, or food, and spend one hour teaching them your language, then swap. It’s free, fun and social. You will learn a skill that will help you for the rest of your life. Having a second language isn’t just useful for yourself, employers or future schools will regard it highly as well.
5. It will teach you to adapt.
When you study abroad, you will be subject to new languages, people, and cultures. You’ll also be subject to a new way of learning and a new method of education. Teaching and methods vary from country to country and you will have to adapt to these new ways. It could be that you have a lot more time in the classroom with a teacher than at your home institution or it could be that you have a lot less. You may have to do a lot more studying on your own and you’ll have to find a quiet space to learn. It could be that your hours of learning hugely increase, or decrease.
It could be that you spend more time in classrooms or more time in the library or more time out and about doing research or projects. Whatever the differences are, they are all still very valuable experiences. You will be given new tools and skills that you didn’t already have. You ability to adapt to new challenges and surroundings will improve. Once again, these are things that will improve you as a person forever.
6. It will inspire you to learn new interests.
Something interesting happens when you fling yourself into another country in a study abroad program. Because everything around you changes, you start to find changes happening within yourself. As we’ve already mentioned, you might be able to speak a few more words of Spanish suddenly, or feel more independent. But, this change also feeds into another area of your life, your hobbies and interests.
When you are around a new environment, you might find a hobby that you love that you couldn’t do where you lived before. Let’s say you move from a landlocked island to Australia for a year to study abroad. Suddenly, a whole world of watersports is open to you now. From surfing to open water swimming, you may find a new sport that you’ve never even tried before.
It’s not just hobbies that might crop up, though; you may also find yourself a new career path. You might find that you want to work in a new industry that you didn’t know much about before. Similarly, you might love the country you are studying in so much that you want to find a way to live and work there after you graduate.
By exposing yourself to the many different experiences of studying abroad, new and exciting opportunities will come your way. Be open to these things and it will change your life, for the better.
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