Higher education experts from all over the world talk about what they think are the main benefits of studying abroad, such as getting experience in a global hub and learning a language through immersion in an international experience. They also talk about important things to think about when choosing a place to study.
1. Experience a new culture
Dee Roach, who is the group manager for European marketing at the Navitas Education Group, says that there is no better way to learn about other cultures than to study abroad. “The best way to learn about another culture is to be a part of it, and the only way to do that is to live in that country. When you get a job, you might only be able to go on vacation or visit other countries for two to four weeks per year. Studying abroad is a great way to stay in a country and learn about it for a longer time.
Elizabeth Dalferes, assistant director of admissions and graduate program administration at Tulane Law School, says that if you got your bachelor’s degree close to home, a master’s program can be a great time to study abroad. “Students often get their master’s degree at a foreign school to learn new skills and gain a new cultural perspective.”
2. Meet people from all over the world
If you choose a university for your international studies, it’s likely that there will be a lot of students from the area and from all over the world. If you make the most of this chance, you could have long-lasting friendships with people from many different countries by the time you graduate. This is great for future trips and can also help you build an international professional network. Dalferes says, “Studying abroad is a great way to meet new people and build relationships with peers from all over the world that can be very helpful.”
Professor Kimberly Hutchings, program director of the MSc in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, says that being part of an academic community with people from all over the world can also improve the quality of your learning by giving you access to a wider range of opinions and expertise (LSE).
3. Be truly on your own
For most first-year students, college is a steep learning curve for becoming independent. But studying abroad goes a step further and gives students a chance to really grow as people. Dee Roach says, “When you study abroad, you have to take care of yourself.” You must be able to take care of yourself and handle your own business.”
4. Change your way of thinking
Studying abroad could make you think differently about a lot of things you used to take for granted. Sarah Han of the Korean Council for University Education’s Department of International Cooperation says, “Studying abroad gives you a chance to broaden your perspective and helps you understand and analyze problems and events from a longer-term, global perspective.” She also says, “Long-term experience in other cultures tends to help one think objectively about oneself and one’s home country, tolerate differences, and recognize and appreciate diversity.”
5. Get ready for a job that will take you around the world
Han goes on to explain how this international experience prepares students for their future careers: “Students are more open to new knowledge and expertise when they are abroad, and that knowledge is often easier to apply and adapt to situations that require international interaction. This means that you can expect to be more competitive in this age of globalization.”
The head of advice at the US-UK Fulbright Commission in London, Lauren Welch, agrees that studying abroad is likely to improve your chances of getting a job in the future. “Employers want college graduates who have studied or worked abroad to have international experience. There are now a lot more chances to study and work abroad, or to study and work there afterward.
Dee Roach says, “Anyone who can put on their CV that they studied abroad is in a great position to impress future employers. At the very least, it will give you something to talk about in an interview. But much more importantly, it will show your potential employer that you can stand on your own, that you can fit in with different groups, and that you are resourceful and have initiative.
6. Develop your language skills
Many international students study abroad to improve their language skills, either by studying in a second language or by practicing the local language. More and more courses are being taught in English around the world, especially at the graduate level, and being able to speak English is useful in many fields. But it is a plus to know more than one language.
Sarah Han says that the language skills a student gains while studying abroad will always help the student and their home country, both in the short and long term.
7. Study in an international center for your field
Lauren Welch says that studying abroad is also a great way to spend time in a place that is known around the world as a leader in your field. This could mean that you could learn from well-known experts and guest speakers and maybe get some good work experience. For example, people who want to study finance might be interested in cities like New York, London, or Hong Kong, while people who want to study politics might be interested in universities in major political centers like Washington, DC, or Brussels.
Dee Roach also points out that some countries are known for being the best in a certain area of research and development or education. “Germany is known for its advances in engineering technology, the US for its top business and management programs like Harvard, MIT, and Stanford, Australia for its art, design, and sports, and Canada for its world-famous “co-op programs.”
8. Take more trips
Lastly, studying abroad gives you a chance to see more of the part of the world where you live. “Of course, you won’t just be tied to the school or city where you study. Roach says, “You will also have time and chances to travel within and around that country.” “You can also go from one country to another on holidays and weekends, depending on where you live. Most of the time, this will also save you money on travel because you will have a student discount card.