Deciding to leave your home country and study abroad is a big step. Many prospective students wonder what the benefit of leaving the comforts of home is to move abroad and study at an international university.
But, students who have study abroad experience make it loud and clear—they love the experience specifically because of everything it offers them that staying in their native country cannot. So, why not consider traveling the world and earning a degree while you’re at it? We’ve compiled a list of the top ten reasons why your international experience will be one of the best, most memorable experiences of your life.
1. Gain Independence
Although any university experience offers the opportunity to grow personally and professionally, oftentimes students miss out on recognizing their full potential by choosing the closest university to home. Therefore, there may be a period where it is particularly difficult for post-graduates to adjust to life outside of academia.
However, with the additional challenge of navigating a foreign country, as an international student you will pick up crucial ‘’adulting’’ skills. It is common to have to find housing, learn a language, navigate a new city, or budget with a foreign currency while living abroad.
When you move back home, you will be grateful to have learned how to pay bills, communicate with people from all walks of life, and take care of your own living arrangements.
You will be ready to put yourself in the driver’s seat to face life’s challenges, making you more confident and assured.
2. Immerse Yourself into a New Culture
In an increasingly globalized world, cross-cultural communication is becoming a vital skill, and individuals who possess it are in high demand. But, because it cannot be taught efficiently through a text book, it requires real-life experience to gain fluency in this communication style.
Therefore, it is more important than ever to have the opportunity to explore other cultures in-depth. Studying abroad is guaranteed to immerse you in a new culture’s politics, culture, and language, making it easier for you to understand different world views, while also giving you the skills to express your own.
Naturally, the international classroom experience will show you new perspectives and opinions on topics that appear in everyday life. However, in addition to getting an encompassing view of the culture values, you’ll also meet other students from all over the globe, granting you the opportunity to start constructing a much broader understanding of the world.
3. Stand out to Employers
We’ve written about it before, employers appreciate applicants who have studied abroad. With an international experience on your resume, you’ll come to the interview with more maturity, confidence, and practical skills with real-life anecdotes to back it up.
Communication skills aside, studying abroad enhances critical thinking and problem-solving skills that employers desire. Especially if you’re applying for an entry-level position after graduation, you will be only one resume amongst many that recruiters must sort through. Why not make yours stand out?
Study abroad experience is one of those factors that grabs employers’ attention. Moving abroad to study in an international program shows dedication and commitment that make you the ideal candidate for any job.
4. Broaden your Knowledge
Studying abroad can be a tremendous opportunity for students in countries whose higher education institutions don’t match their advanced skills or ambitions.
But, even if your home country has premiere universities, studying abroad can open new paths to pursue your passions. You could study at universities with leading researchers in your field of interest, access to historic libraries and local archives, or cutting-edge art scenes, which could all contribute to a better understanding of the subject matter you are studying.
You can also pursue your studies in an international location where you can also follow your interests, while deepening your knowledge of them, and discovering new ones along the way. For instance, if you like to scuba dive and would like to enhance your skills or get certifications, consider a destination close to popular diving spots. Living within commuting distance to a wide-range of activities will make your university years more meaningful.
5. Discover Yourself
At some point in everybody’s life, you have to at least wonder what makes you the person you are.
When you move abroad to study, you will be given the chance to see the world, and especially your native country, in a whole new light. Many international students report that this has had a big impact on their development as a person for the rest of their lives.
Many of the thoughts, concepts and ideas you take for granted as “normal” are in reality a part of your national identity. You will be surprised to find that other students from countries all over the world have had vastly different upbringings and experiences. However, these realizations, along with all the new friendships it helps create, are one of the most meaningful aspects of studying abroad.
If you would like to truly find yourself, studying abroad will show you other ways of life, while also forcing you to make more conscious decisions about how you live your own. You might also call into consideration personal space, what friendship means to you, your views on political systems, and what a meaningful life can look like.
6. Travel the World
The first time you do something new, it can seem really scary.
For many international students, their studies offer them their first opportunity to leave their home country. Those students get a bit of a guiding hand from the university, as they expand their borders and learn how to live in a new country independently.
Studying abroad imparts valuable travel skills that you can use anywhere in the world: navigating international airports, identifying the best local restaurants, learning how to find your way around an unfamiliar city, knowing when to be concious of cultural norms, or figuring out the public transportation.
Although you’ll become an expert at living in your study-abroad city, you’ll learn transferable skills along the way that will open up the world to you.
Not sure if you can afford studying abroad and traveling? Download our scholarship guide to help fund your studies! The less you spend on school the more places you can see!
7. Expand your Network, Make Friends from Around the World
As an international student, you automatically become a member of a large network of other international students at your university. Oftentimes, universities also host special events for their international students in order to grant everyone the opportunity to make a new group of friends in their new country.
Therefore, when you study abroad it’s easy to make friends from every continent. You’re all in the same boat—excited, maybe a little nervous, and ready to make new friends with whom you can explore your new country. While most of you may return to your home countries at the end of studies, international students tend to stay in touch long after their studies have concluded.
The other good news is that, with friends scattered around the world, you will never run out of travel ideas or opportunities. However, with a friend living at your travel destination, you get the added benefit of having a personal tour guide and maybe even free accommodation.
8. Learn a New Language
Therefore, studying at an international university typically offers opportunities for international students to learn their new host country’s native language. Whether it’s Japanese, German, Italian, or Swedish, why not follow up on your New Year’s resolution and learn a new language?
Depending on the length of your stay, you may or may not reach native fluency. However, one thing that’s for sure is that your hosts will appreciate your effort. A little effort goes a long way towards immersion.
You also have the benefit of taking courses taught by skilled native teachers. You can also join a language exchange club or make an effort to converse with local acquaintances and friends in their language, which will speed up your language learning and open you up to more international opportunities.
9. Find Hidden Gems
Maybe your Instagram feed is looking a little uninspired, or maybe you're just an adventurous spirit and want to explore.
Of course, the guide books will point you to all the "must-sees" in every city. But behind those, there are plenty of worthwhile things to experience which are typically reserved for the locals.
So, as you learn to navigate your new city like a local, you’ll begin to discover all the best parks, restaurants, bars, cafes, and shopping spots that make for unforgettable experiences.
You’ll also find out where the locals vacation: charming seaside resorts, restaurants overlooking waterfalls, camping sites near picturesque lakes, mountain cabins, castle ruins, with plenty of gems that have never made the guide books.
10. Enjoy Coming Home
After returning from study abroad and overcoming some reverse culture-shock, you’ll take in your home country with new eyes and have a deeper appreciation of what it really means to be home.
The mundane things that you walk past every day at home might start to hold more value for you, and the elements of your culture that you longed for when you studied abroad can become very meaningful to you upon your return.
You’ll also return with a new found confidence to try new things and explore new places. Suddenly, you will be approaching your homeland with a traveler’s mindset.