Studying abroad can be one of the most attractive ways to get an education, but only a handful of individuals actually participate. Of all students enrolled in higher education institutions in the United States, only 1.5 percent ever study abroad, according to the Trends in U.S. Study Abroad of the NAFSA. The study also states that expenses and the fear of leaving home are the two primary reasons students do not study internationally.
We can easily receive an education without leaving the comfort of our homes. Studying abroad, however, allows provides an education you won’t find in the textbooks. It pushes you to learn new cultures, see new places, practice different languages and even teaches you different aspects about your major. Learning about new people and creating friendships with individuals you may not have much in common with helps you create extraordinary people skills that may help you later in life.
Adapting to life in a new country can be difficult. Overcoming those difficulties, can help you become stronger and more independent. Being a newcomer in a vastly different world makes you grow as a person and truly find out who you are. Students who study abroad can learn to feel comfortable and adventurous in new settings as they explore both the culture and surroundings.
“Leaving the country to learn more about my major and myself was by far the best experience of my life,” said Sheldon Gruender, an MU sophomore.
He studied abroad in Italy this past summer. Gruender said he learned more about life in general in those six weeks than anytime in his life. He studied Italian for one year before he left for Italy.
“Learning some of their language really helped me meet people and just get around, it’s really hard to get anything done when you can’t speak their language,” Gruender said. “Plus they really appreciate the fact that you try to speak their language, instead of just trying to make them speak yours.”
Building lifelong friendships across the world is a great way to make strong connections for your career.
“Professionally, studying abroad helps make international contacts, gain internship experience, build your resume and gain proficiency in a second language,” said Matt Pourney, CAFNR director of study abroad.
It’s no secret that networking is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door for any occupation. Getting a new perspective on culture and showing a willingness to learn is attractive to future employers, according to the Study Abroad Guide of the International Student. It shows that you had the strength of character to leave familiar settings and meet new people and explore new places, while getting a solid education. This may be the deciding factor for an employer while choosing who or who not to hire.
Overall, studying abroad can be a beneficial experience for the right person. It pushes you to become the person you want to be. Most of us have an image of ourselves as who we want to be, but we don’t always take the steps to become that person. Studying in a foreign country and learning how to adapt to other environments could be one of your best life experiences, and the first step to becoming the person that you want the world to see.