Reasons Why You Should Study Abroad
Studying abroad is an opportunity that many students believe they don’t have access to, whether it be funding, course work, graduation, or a multitude of other reasons that you could come up with. Upon first mention study abroad sounds daunting, it sounds like thousands of dollars, a wasted semester, course work that wont transfer back, or a semester off, all of which are misconceptions. Study abroad opens doors to future jobs, international connections, new friends and the opportunity of a lifetime.
Studying abroad has grown in popularity over the past 10 years and more and more students are taking advantage of the study abroad programs their university offers.
A recent study conducted by IES Abroad, a national study abroad program, showed that 44 percent of students who studied abroad got a job while still enrolled in college courses. Another study conducted by University of California, Merced found that 97 percent of students who studied abroad found employment within 12 months of graduation, and 25 percent had higher starting salaries.
The benefits of studying abroad are not only found in job readiness, but are shown in the skills that many students who study abroad exhibit. According to AIM Overseas, students who study abroad have increased communication skills, global understanding, adaptability, and increased self-confidence. Studying abroad allows students to gain skills that a majority of people do not have.
If you were to ask a study abroad student how they felt about their time abroad, I can almost promise you the majority of what they’ll say will be positive. With my own time abroad in Prague, Czech Republic I learned lessons that I could’ve never learned at home, I learned how to function in a country where English wasn’t spoken, I learned how to communicate with people from a culture I wasn’t used to, and most importantly I learned more about myself and my abilities.
Study abroad comes with a variety of fears unrelated to college, like what happens if my luggage gets lost? My dad is not Liam Neeson, so what happens if I get taken? What do I do when that creepy 30-year-old Italian hits on me at the club? What if someone pickpockets me?
So here are (some) of the answers to those questions that keep you up at night.
- What if my luggage gets lost?
- Realizing that my luggage had been left in Paris upon arrival in Prague felt like a punch to the throat. I thought, “of course. of course the worst has happened. I’ve been traveling for 30 hours straight and I have no clean underwear or socks.” So here’s the truth; people in other countries like to wear cute clothes and undergarments too- go find an H&M, buy a 10 pack of underwear, a pair of pants and two shirts and go explore this new place. Everything is fine. It is just clothing.
Q. My dad is not Liam Neeson, so what happens if I get taken?
- Nobody’s dad is Liam Neeson, and while human trafficking is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed, if you’re smart and aware of your surroundings, your dad wont have to try to cross the world and single handedly take down a bunch of scum-bags. Stay aware, don’t walk home alone at night, and don’t get into a cab with some random guy who seems trust worthy. BE SMART, and you’ll be fine.
Q. What do I do when that creepy 30-year-old Italian man hits on me?
- Smile politely, talk to him a little (maybe he’s not actually creepy and really nice, and if not) tell him to leave you alone and walk away, and when you see him later on while you’re waiting in the bathroom line (which yes, will happen) turn to your girlfriend and be SO enthralled in that conversation that you “don’t even see him.”
Q. What if someone pickpockets me?
- We’ve all heard the horror stories of people getting pickpocketed on trains and subways and losing all of their money. I had this happen to me my first night out in Prague, I brought way too much money and I lost around $100, so learn from my mistake. First off, don’t carry all of your money with you, and don’t carry all three of your credit cards either. Carry enough cash for that night and maybe bring a credit card with you. Stay aware and keep your purse close with one hand on it at all times.
Studying abroad is scary, but it doesn’t have to break the bank, there are scholarships, grants, and you can find programs that allow you to use financial aid.
There are a variety of programs that will work with you so your classes transfer back to your home university. There are a variety of programs that even offer internships, language courses, and community involvement opportunities; all of which look great on a resume.
All of that being said, I encourage you to look into the study abroad options that your university offers. I encourage you to go have an adventure, learn a new language, make new friends, and to do it while you can, before you graduate, miss the opportunity and “real life” takes over. Take a dive into the unknown, I promise you wont regret it.