Why Studying Abroad Might be a Worthwhile Experience
Your best friend has returned from Spain, and all she talks about is Spanish culture and cuisine. Your interest piques when the two of you bump into a Spanish professor, and they converse in fluent Spanish while you wait for the conversation to end. Just when you have heard enough about Spain, your friend suggests studying abroad in England for a semester as you are a Victorian literature major. A good idea, but you want to graduate on time. Even with those concerns, traveling abroad has so many benefits.
The advantages of traveling abroad are numerous. For one, students expose themselves to a wide array of experiences and viewpoints. Learning about other people’s lives teaches acceptance of other cultures and respect for their viewpoints. Those wanting to learn another language can become fluent when becoming immersed in the culture. More than anything else, the experience looks great on a resume, and bilingualism can improve employment opportunities both abroad and on American shores. Because the student is exposed to new and varied experiences, the student becomes creative as a result of having to independently problem-solve. More importantly, when leaving the country, the student makes life-long friendships and creates wonderful memories.
Before studying abroad, prospective travelers should prepare themselves in a few ways. For one, students might experience culture shock after being exposed to different foods and situations, so be prepared to confront homesickness. Depending on the country, some might have preconceived notions of Americans, and at the same time, students traveling abroad might also stereotype the country and its people. Humility is also a valuable tool that students should pack because going into another environment requires viewing the issue from another vantage point. Prepare by spending the months preceding the trip researching the country and its inhabitants. Engage in the community, as students only have three or four months to experience the culture of that country, so soak up the experience.
Fortunately, students can study abroad in programs worldwide to learn a language or to have a culturally enriched experience.
Where to go
- Stamford American International School, Hong Kong (China): Stamford, one of the international schools in Hong Kong, is great for high school students participating in the STEM program as it has a similar program to American high schools.
- Bond University, Gold Coast (Australia): This university is surrounded by nightlife, reminiscent of what an American college student might experience.
- Keio University, Tokyo (Japan): For those studying environmental science, this university is a great opportunity because of “Ecology Week” in June when professors, staff, and faculty discuss environmental issues.
- American College Dublin (Ireland): This school was ranked seventh in the world for study abroad programs.
While studying abroad, students can learn about new cultures while they are free of life’s responsibilities. Students take away from the experience valuable life skills that can be applied in the workplace. More importantly, students take away from the experience wonderful memories and make great, long-lasting friendships as a result of their travels.