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The top 8 reasons why you should study abroad

Studying abroad is a global phenomenon, with students crossing countries, continents and oceans to get the best education possible. But why has choosing a university destination in another country become so popular?

The truth is, studying overseas has many fantastic benefits, from helping you find a good job to improving your social life. Still not sure? Then here are the top 8 reasons why you should study abroad.

1. It’s a challenge

It may seem a strange point to start off on, but it should be said that studying abroad isn’t necessarily easy. There are unique challenges that come with going overseas to study, but that’s all part of the fun and the experience.

You may have some concerns before leaving your home country, but don’t worry: that’s completely natural. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is one of the things that makes the whole experience so valuable and worthwhile. After all, if you can travel overseas to study, you can do anything!

2. Experience a different culture


One of the biggest advantages of studying abroad for many international students is the chance to become immersed in a totally different environment. This enriching experience will enable you to see and do things you wouldn’t expect, and meet people who have grown up in a different culture.

For instance, while living abroad you’ll be able to try new foods, hear traditional music, have a go at local activities and explore everything else your host culture has to offer. It’s also fascinating to learn to see your own culture through the eyes of somebody else’s – you can learn a lot about yourself and your home country this way!

3. Top quality education


Of course, no matter where you study, your goal is always going to be to get the highest possible quality of education. Becoming an international student can greatly broaden your study options. After all, why be limited to choosing a university in your home country?

Often, the best choice for you may be to study at a foreign university. For example, the UK, USA and Australia all have extremely highly regarded higher education systems, and a huge percentage of the world’s highest ranking universities are in these few countries.

4. Learn a new language


One huge benefit of studying abroad is the chance to learn a new language. Learning a language can be a real challenge, but there is nothing quite like living somewhere where that language is spoken natively. It really helps!

Since English is such a universally used language, it can be quite advantageous to study in a country such as the USA or the UK. You’ll be able to study in English, speak to locals and really develop your language skills.

5. Career opportunities


Of course, the main reason for getting a degree in the first place is to improve your career prospects. In a globalised, well-connected world, employers increasingly value graduates with international experience and education.

Studying abroad helps you to learn new languages, appreciate other cultures, overcome challenges of living in another country and gain a greater understanding of the world. These are all things that modern businesses look for when hiring, and such traits will only become more important in the future.

6. Make new friends


No matter where you go to university, you’re sure to meet lots of new people and make new friends who are all in the same position as you. When you study abroad, you have a unique opportunity to make friends with people from all kinds of different cultures, and learn about other countries and customs.

Many lifelong friendships start at university, and you’ll be able to live, learn and travel together during your studies. It can also be hugely beneficial to know people in different countries around the world – especially after you graduate!

7. International travel


As well as experiencing the culture of your study destination, you will also be able to travel to other nearby countries. For example, if you go to a UK university, you can easily to catch a flight to continental Europe to see Paris, Rome, Barcelona and many more fascinating places.

Studying abroad is therefore a unique opportunity to see more of the world, which is itself a hugely rewarding educational experience. There is no doubt that seeing other parts of the world will greatly affect your character and worldview, and help you prepare for life in a global world.

8. Become independent


It’s often said that going to university is when you become truly independent from your parents and family. This is especially true when you go to university in another country!

Bringing us full circle, becoming independent is itself a challenge. But living and studying in another country will help shape you into an independent and adventurous adult, ready to succeed in your future career.

Why Study Abroad

Ah, the age-old question: Why study abroad? Well, to put it simply: to change your frickin’ life. That’s right, we said it. Studying abroad is truly a life-shifting experience. There are personal, academic, and even career benefits of studying abroad. It’s a chance to try something totally new and scary, or to fully immerse yourself in something you know well. 

You’ll laugh, you’ll learn, and you’ll live life to a degree you wouldn’t have been able to before. It really is a rollercoaster. The disadvantages of studying abroad shouldn’t be ignored. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine. But the challenges you’ll face will help you grow. 

If you’re tempted by the idea busting out of your routine and going on an adventure, you’ve landed in the right place.  We hope it isn’t too difficult to convince you to see why study abroad is important. But just in case you need a little nudge, here are 13 reasons why you absolutely must study abroad. 

Study abroad is important

Why is study abroad important? There are many reasons why study abroad is important. Personal benefits of studying abroad are interconnected with global benefits. When you study abroad, you’re not only treating yourself to an epic sojourn, you’re doing the world a solid. So if people ask you “why are you studying abroad?” just tell them it’s for the greater good.  

1. Global awareness

You can only learn so much about another culture by watching National Geographic documentaries. If you really want to thrive in life, learning how to view things from another’s perspective is imperative. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re living in a globalized world. We share cultural icons with people in Japan, we trade with people in Bangladesh, and we face political challenges across continents. 

2. Meaningful connection 

You’ll learn a lot about another culture by living in abroad, and you have the chance to make lifelong connections and meaningful relationships. Sharing stories and ideas with people from a different culture will help you understand their values, and perhaps help you sort out your own.

3. Societal harmony 

When you study abroad, you come home with a wealth of knowledge. Not just from the classes you took, but the perspective you’ve gained. You’ll learn to empathize with people who have different beliefs from you because you won’t see their innate values as a threat. How cool would it be if we could live in a world where people don’t see difference as a personal assault? 

The academic benefits of studying abroad

Although it may feel like it at times, a semester abroad isn’t just a globetrotter’s excuse to get the hell outta Dodge. The academic benefits of studying abroad are plentiful! It is called “study” abroad, after all.  

4. Focus on your degree 

When you’re looking at programs abroad,  you can be super picky when making decisions on where to go and what to study. You get to fully immerse yourself in a program that focuses solely on your area of study. Interested in Marine Biology? Dive deeper into your degree with a program in Costa Rica, one of the most biologically intense places in the world. Wanna become a bilingual badass? Check out language-specific programs, like CIEE’s Summer Language and Culture in Palma de Mallorca. If STEM is your calling, check out Athena Study Abroad’s program in Aberdeen, Scotland. The University of Aberdeen is STEM certified, making it ideal for students who want to get into science and tech. 

5. Gain perspective 

Studying abroad also offers the unique opportunity to learn what you know but from a totally different perspective. Different cultures have different ways of interacting with the world, and studying in a foreign university will give you another perspective of your coursework. In general, mixing it up with different profs is a good idea for a well-rounded education. So why not study abroad in England for the chance to find your very own Professor Lupin? Pretty sure he’ll have multiple…perspectives.

6. GRADUATE! 

study done at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln revealed that study abroad participants graduate at higher rates than their non-abroad peers, with the likelihood of graduating in five years increasing by 64 percent. It’s true; some of the academic benefits of studying abroad actually tie to whether or not you make it out of college. Whoa. Mind. Blown. 

The career benefits of studying abroad

If you want to land your dream job, you better study abroad. The career benefits of studying abroad are endless! It makes your resume look classy AF, gives you a chance to intern abroad, and can boost your paycheck down the road. You’ll be stupidly marketable, so take the opportunity to extend your academic experience into the professional world.

7. Resume magic 

When an employer looks at your resume and sees that you have studied abroad, they’ll be intrigued. It adds a pop that catches their eye. Once you get the interview (because we know you will, you industrious traveler), you can use your experiences to answer pretty much any question they throw at you. You’re a risk-taker,  a problem solver, and a cross-cultural connoisseur. If that doesn’t help you make up your mind, we’ll just toss this out: 90% of study abroad alumni found their first job within six months of graduating (in a study done by IES Abroad).

8. Interning your way to the top 

Interning during your study abroad will give you real-life, professional experience. Is there a company abroad you’re particularly interested in? Or somewhere your ideal industry is well-known for? Use your time abroad to explore. Send them an email, or drop by (but not in a creepy way) and see if you can make any connections. Talk to your study abroad advisors on site, or at your school, and figure out how to make it happen. You never know who you might meet while networking abroad.  

9. Why study abroad? To get paid 

Is this really surprising? If studying abroad makes you a risking-ting, problem-solving, experience seeking, worldly baller, it makes sense that employers are more likely to offer you a higher salary if you’ve studied abroad. According to a study done by IES Abroad, the internationally inclined students earned, on average, $7,000 more in starting salaries than the general population of recent US grads. Need more proof? Hosteworld’s study found that 41 percent of employers would offer higher salaries to students who had studied abroad. Living abroad shows that you’re adaptable, and that’s a skill employer absolutely luuuurve. 

10. Talk _______ to me  

Why not use your time abroad to become bilingual? They say immersion is the best way to learn a language. If you want to get hired quick, learn a second language. Being able to speak multiple languages is pretty much a superpower these days, so it shouldn’t be hard. There’s a constant need for bilingual workers; a study released in 2017 shows that demand has doubled in the past five years. Seeing as the world is becoming more and more interconnected, it’s safe to say that it’s only going to go up. 

The personal benefits of studying abroad

11. Challenge yourself (emotionally and academically) 

Live in another country where they don’t speak the language and simultaneously balance school, adventure, and social life?? CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.  Who doesn’t love a little challenge?  The personal benefits of studying abroad really are whatever you choose to make them. Want to learn a new language? Study it. Want to do something scary? Go skydiving. Whatever path you choose, you will be challenged. But challenge = growth, which is arguably the best single word answer to “why study abroad” you can get. 

12. Master the art of communication 

Have you ever tried haggling with a street vendor in Istanbul? Or tried to explain to a tuk-tuk driver in Thailand where you need to go? If you have, you know how nuanced (and at times infuriating) cross-cultural communication can be. Language barrier or not, it can be a hassle. In an increasingly interconnected world, the importance of understanding totally different cultures is skyrocketing. 

13. All the skills 

We’re thinking beyond the obvious academic benefits of studying abroad. You’ll have a chance to hone in on those plushy soft skills that are equally important! According to a study funded by the US Department of Education International Research Studies Office, students who study abroad show higher levels of abstract reasoning, higher order thinking, integrative learning, and social development. That’s a fancy science way of saying it’s gonna expand your mind, bro. You’ll also learn to be patient, because trying to order food in another language takes a looooot of that. You’ll learn self-discipline, because choosing to finish your homework over hitting up a Slovakian nightclub will push you to your limit. 

10 Reasons Why Every Student Should Study Abroad

After spending her childhood constantly moving, Regina’s natural state of being is feeling lost in a foreign place. She received her Bachelor’s degree from McGill University and now lives in Seattle.

In the months leading up to my freshman year of university, I read a variety of self-help articles and books about ensuring a successful college experience. Like any high-achieving student, I was open to any and all advice to help me make the most of my four years in college.

The common consensus among everything I read was that studying abroad was one of the most enriching and unforgettable experiences that you could have in college; it was not to be missed. A few years later when I studied abroad in Paris, France, I saw firsthand how my own studies abroad shaped and changed me for the better.

When I first broached the subject of studying abroad with my empty-nester parents, my mother’s automatic reply was, “Oh, but you’ll be so far away! Do you really have to go?” While it wasn’t absolutely necessary for me to go on exchange, there were a multitude of reasons why I chose to do so and why I believe every student should too, if presented with the opportunity.

Here are some of the incredible reasons why you should study abroad, based on my experience.

1. You’ll Gain a Better Appreciation for Your Home

Photo credit: Gabriella, Ecuador Study Abroad Semester Alum

One of the biggest takeaways from my own experience studying overseas was the ability to see my home country and school through a new lens. Integrating myself into a foreign school system opened my eyes to new perspectives from classmates from around the world. Hearing their interpretations of various events or figures gave me insight into how my country is perceived and how different people approach various situations. It gave me a chance to reflect on myself and my own ways of thinking and how to improve them.

2. You Can Take a Class You Can’t at Home

Every university has a few classes that are unique to the school or its location. Studying abroad at a foreign institution offers you an opportunity to enroll in classes you otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to take. For me, I capitalized on the occasion to take a modern world history class taught in French.

Since I already had what I thought was a thorough understanding of world history, I thought my main challenge in this course would be learning entirely in French. I was surprised to find that the class material was new to me. Though we were examining the same events that I had studied in my history courses back home, this time, I heard about the events from a European perspective. It was the same story, simply told by a different narrator.

This served as another lesson of the importance of seeing things from others’ points of view.

3. You’ll Learn History Where It Occurred

Photo credit: Shira, Athena Study Abroad Greece Alum

Whether you’re going to Europe, Asia, South America, or anywhere else in the world for your studies, another benefit of going overseas is being able to learn about the history of the location while being there.

During my exchange in Paris, I was fortunate enough to visit the Palace of Fontainebleau and learn about the numerous kings who once resided within those walls. Simply walking the streets of Paris was a lesson in history, with the beautiful Haussmanian architecture that adorns the city. Being in a place that has seen so much taught me more than I ever could have learned from reading a textbook.

4. You’ll Increase Your Adaptability

Even though you don’t realize it, traveling always changes the way you think and makes you more adaptable and flexible. Study abroad amplifies this because you almost always study abroad for a longer span of time than you travel or take a vacation. You learn to navigate a new school, city, country, and social situations.

When I returned to the States at the end of my semester in France, I had a fresh take on problem-solving. I thought I was already open-minded before I left, but going overseas helped me expand my thoughts further. Thanks to my time abroad, I learned to approach problems differently and learn to adapt to new situations as smoothly as possible.

5. You’ll Become More Independent

While most students have already been away from home for a while by the time they study abroad, going overseas is the first time that many find themselves truly alone in a new setting. In that sense, studying abroad forces you to leave your comfort zone and learn to start a new life on your own in a foreign place.

You’ll learn more about yourself, discover new interests, and probably gain a greater appreciation for all the support you family has given you up until now.

6. You’ll Advance Your Future Career

It’s true: having international experience to include on your resume does give you an advantage when it comes time to apply to jobs. Employers value the independence, adaptability, and flexibility that you’ll develop from going overseas.

Studying abroad also gives you the opportunity to meet others from around the globe and grow your network. Depending on what your host institution’s policies are on research and internships, going overseas may also help you get your foot in the door for future work opportunities in your field.

7. You Can Learn Another Language

If you already know the basics of another language or have always wanted to learn, this is your opportunity! There truly is no better way to master a language than to move to a country where it’s the predominant and official language. By immersing yourself in the country, language, and culture, you’ll learn the true language that natives speak.

This was one of the main reasons I chose to go to university in Montreal, Canada, and study abroad in Paris, France.

8. You’ll Experience Living Somewhere Rather than Visiting

Along the same lines, studying abroad offers the perfect opportunity to truly live in another country. You can truly immerse yourself in the culture and customs, much more than you could as a tourist visiting for a week or two. Many programs also offer the option of living with a host family for the duration, which is another fantastic way to authentically experience your host country.

Having the experience of living somewhere foreign helps cultivate empathy. In this day and age of globalization, it’s so important to understand where others come from.

9. You’ll Explore New Places

Photo credit: Rachel, Athena Study Abroad Florence Alum

Another obvious perk of studying abroad is that you get to be somewhere new. If you’ve always wanted to go to Japan, why not study abroad there? Beyond the city where you’ll live for school, you can also venture out a bit further and explore other parts of your host country, or even neighboring nations.

During my exchange in Paris, I took the opportunity to begin traveling solo to nearby countries, like the U.K., Germany, and Spain, among many others. This was a powerful experience for me, as it taught me a lot about enjoying my own company and independence.

10. You’ll Meet New People

If there’s anything I learned from my own time abroad, it’s that the people make the experience. During my semester overseas, I met so many fascinating, lovely people from around the world who changed the way I perceive myself and the world. The friends and memories I made during that time have stayed with me since.

As an unexpected perk, I now have friends to visit in France, Australia, and various parts of the U.S.!

Despite my mother’s initial apprehension in allowing me to study abroad, she ultimately agreed because she knew what a beneficial and life-changing experience it would be for me. Studying abroad shapes who you are and how you view the world; these are just some of the amazing reasons why you should study abroad, but you’re sure to discover your own once you’re abroad. If you have the opportunity to go overseas, seize the chance and don’t look back.

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