Choosing to study abroad can feel a lot like jumping into a lake – it could be cool and refreshing or unpleasantly cold. It takes some courage to venture into unknown territories, but just like a dip in the lake, study abroad can awaken your senses and make you feel invigorated.
If you’re not sure whether to take the plunge, read on to learn how study abroad could help you.
1. Expand your horizons
One of the top reasons people study abroad is so they can be immersed in another culture. You can read about the different types of food, recreational activities and customs, but there is no substitute for experiencing these qualities yourself.
2. Learn a new language
Studying abroad is helpful when you’re trying to become fluent in a particular language. When you push yourself to speak the language day after day, you’ll eventually be able to do it without much thought. And locals are usually happy to help you understand the subtleties of their language
3. Develop resourcefulness
Even if you know a lot about where you’re going, you’ll still need to figure things out when you get there. Whether you’re mastering the carros públicos (share taxis) in the Dominican Republic or navigating the cycling superhighway in Denmark, these experiences will make you more savvy and resourceful in future travel scenarios.
4. Professional development
Studying abroad can help you develop skills that could give you an edge over your competition in the job market. Not only does knowing a second language make you an appealing candidate to employers, but study abroad experience shows that you’re able to adapt to new situations and that you are a well-rounded person.
Go while you can
If you have an opportunity to spend time abroad, you should go. There are multiple reasons why it can be difficult to go abroad later in life – family commitments, a lack of free time or financial constraints, for example. Many people find that traveling abroad is easiest in college, when you’re relatively free of obligations.
Make the most of it
Once you’ve decided to study abroad, there are several things you should do to get the most out of your experience. Before you leave, search for study abroad scholarships that can help you cover tuition and possibly even spending costs. You also should invest in international health insurance and visit your doctor before heading overseas. Ask about any special medical concerns in the area you’re traveling to.
After you arrive, don’t shy away from making friends and forming relationships with people outside of your study abroad program. Making local friends can help your language skills improve more quickly and it can also give you access to events and hangouts that only a local person would know about. Depending on what part of the world you’re in, you should also take the opportunity to travel to neighboring countries while you’re there.
Studying abroad is one of the most rewarding, unique and valuable journeys you are likely to have in your life. Take full advantage of this rich opportunity by jumping into the experience feet first.