College is a time to have all kinds of new experiences and learn new things, and if there’s one experience that does all of the above, it’s studying abroad.
Administrators and professors across the nation push study abroad as a way to broaden your horizons and expand your résumé, but many students feel that it is too pricey–and too scary–to actually do. Plus, by the time students have enough credits to actually go to Brazil or France or Morocco, they feel completely embedded in campus life at their own university and don’t want to leave for a semester.
Taking the plunge and studying abroad can be a daunting task to take on, but the end results are more than worth it. If you’re on the fence about studying abroad, check out these five reasons why you should pack your bags and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime.
Experience new cultures
College can seem like a culture shock for many students. If you’re from the city and go to school in a rural area or if you’re a country mouse headed to the big city, there’s a lot to learn just by going to a four-year American university. But going to a foreign country is a completely new experience.
Studying abroad will allow you to immerse yourself in an entirely new culture and learn about their customs, daily habits, religion, food, language, and more. You’ll gain so much more than you ever could by reading a book.
If you study in Europe, you’ll also have the opportunity to travel to other countries nearby. Unlike the United States, travelling to a foreign country in Europe is sometimes only a few hours away.
And while you’ll be able to travel and go on vacations after college, you’ll likely never again be able to spend four to nine months in a foreign country, living like a local.
Make friends and connections across the globe
Networking is a huge part of college and can help you get an internship or start your career. Spending a semester abroad will give you the opportunity to make connections with people from all around the world. If you study in Spain, you’ll not only meet people from Spain, but you’ll also meet other students studying abroad from places like Japan, South Africa, Egypt, and Mexico. You never know what sort of opportunities can come from your connections and meeting people from all of these countries can only bring new opportunity.
Make your résumé stand out
When most students graduate from college, they’ll be able to list one university under their education, but if you study abroad, you’ll be able to list two or more. Your résumé will look so much more impressive if you’re able to list Paderborn University in Germany or Victoria University in Australia, as well as your American university.
If you’re an education major, your university might also offer student teaching abroad, which will enhance your education and résumé even further.
Learn a new language
Learning a new language is hard. For a lot of people, spending three days a week for four semesters drilling French vocabulary or Italian conjugation into their heads still isn’t enough to fully grasp a language. Many students leave their foreign language courses still unable to fluently speak anything besides English.
Studying abroad can change that. If you’re in a country that doesn’t speak English as its first language, you don’t have a choice but to learn a second language. Crash courses at the beginning of the semester can give you the foundation you need to to get by, but simply going to the store or taking public transportation in a non-English speaking country can be a learning experience and can give you the opportunity to pick up a second language.
Become more independent
College is all about learning how to be an independent adult and what is more independent than going to a foreign country by yourself? It’s amazing how much you’ll learn to rely on yourself when you can’t go home to do your laundry or pick up the phone to call your mom. Spending several months by yourself will teach you how to travel by yourself, but it will also teach you to become more self-sufficient, advocate for yourself, and make new friends.