This post is also available in: Portuguese (Brazil)
While most people understand the benefits of studying abroad, reinforcing what you can gain from international experiences is never too much. Here are some great reasons why you should participate in a program abroad:
1. Learn a foreign language
It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an advanced student of the foreign language spoken in the country where you want to go: you will greatly improve your foreign language skills by going abroad! The same goes for those who have never studied the language before. You can learn A LOT just by being immersed in a context where everybody speaks a language that is not your own 24/7.
With that being said, I have to recognize that different programs offer different degrees of language learning. For instance, if you participate in a study abroad program offered by your home university in your native language in a foreign country, you’re not likely to improve your language skills as much. However, you can still learn a great deal by interacting with the locals.
Another point to me made here is that in terms of language programs, upper-beginner and intermediate students seem to be the ones that learn the most from language classes, while advanced students are the ones who can benefit the most from being able to hold long conversations with native speakers. The most important aspect of learning a language in loco, however, is the fact that you actually learn what native speakers say in everyday situations, not what the books say they say (which can be completely different from one another!).
2. Expand your horizons
It sounds like a cliché, but you definitely have a mind-expanding experience by studying abroad. You’re not only exposed to different people and cultures, but you also have the opportunity to recognize your biases, challenge stereotypes, as well as accept and respect individual differences. In the end, however, you may realize (like I did!) that we human beings are not that different from each other after all.
3. Gain autonomy
Living away from family in a foreign country is a great way to gain more autonomy. Why? Because you have to deal with new people in a new environment, which not only requires you to get out of your comfort zone, but also to take some initiative.
4. Make friends from all over the globe
One of the best aspects of going abroad is being able to meet people from many different countries. Depending on the program you choose, you may be able to become friends with both local students, as well as other international students. It’s actually very easy to become friends with other international students since there’s this feeling of “being in the same boat” by experiencing the same situations and dealing with the same challenges. Remember, however, to also hang out with people who are not from your own country! After all, you are abroad to meet interesting people whom you wouldn’t have the chance to meet at home!
5. Appreciate your country and culture
The funny thing about studying abroad is that besides gaining an appreciation for different cultures, you’re also likely to appreciate your own country and culture even more. By being immersed in another culture, you’re able to analyze your own from a quasi outside perspective, which enables you to understand it in a deeper way. In addition, you’ll also learn what other people think of your country and lifestyle (which can be either good or bad, but always interesting to know!).
6. Boost your résumé
Having international experiences gives a nice boost to your résumé. You can gain employers’ attentions by showcasing your foreign language and cross-cultural skills, as well as by demonstrating that you’re able to embrace challenges!
7. Have the time of your life!
All abroadees I’ve met to date describe their experiences abroad as the best times of their lives! I surely had (and continue to have) a great time while abroad. This, of course, doesn’t mean that I didn’t have to overcome challenges or that I haven’t experienced some not-so-pleasant situations, however, I can assure you that the great experiences far outweigh the challenges EVERY SINGLE TIME!
There are so many benefits to going abroad! So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your study/work abroad adventures TODAY!