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The Benefits of Studying Abroad

Many American undergraduate students have never left the United States and never will. Travelling abroad is seen as a luxury, not as necessary. However, in todays day and age a worldview not bound by borders in necessary. A student who is aware and has experienced the world outside of the United States is at a great advantage. A study abroad experience gives all of that and more to a student.

The majority of American students do not study abroad despite the many benefits. Joyce Lau from the International Herald Tribune reports that, “Many American students say they would like to go over seas… but only 1% of U. S. students study abroad during any academic year.” However, Unesco reports that there are 3.4 million students on the move each year all over the world, and that number is expected to grow. So, why aren’t more American students studying abroad and taking advantage of the experiences many benefits?

Studying abroad more often then not is an eye opening experience. Most students go through a period of personal exploration and growth while abroad. The Institute for the International Education of Students reported from a survey that, “When asked about personal growth, 97 percent [of students] said studying abroad served as a catalyst for increased maturity, 96 percent reported increased self-confidence, 89 percent said that it enabled them to tolerate ambiguity, and 95 percent stated that it has had a lasting impact on their world view.” Being completely immersed in a new culture can be incredibly intimidating, but in the end it opens the students’ eyes to a whole new way of thinking and living.

Cultural immersion is a fast and efficient way to teach students that there is a larger world out there. It shows students that there are many different types of people and there are many different cultures. Learning about people and cultures different from oneself creates a global awareness in a student. If a student can prove he or she isn’t ignorant about other people and cultures due to real life experience, it is and invaluable trait for their future.

A study abroad experience can also often reshape the career path of a student. Students with an international experience often take a more reflective approach to the role they are going to play in the world. The study abroad experience gives a student new skills that distinguish him or her from other students entering the work field.

Diversity Abroad, a leading international organization that provides study abroad experiences, claims there are four major impacts career wise for students who study abroad. These four impacts include: A willingness and readiness to adapt to new environments, an ability to look at a project or situation from different perspectives, an understanding of diverse cultures, and self-confidence with an ability to take risks. Studying abroad prepares a student for a successful future in his or her career path.

Studying abroad is expensive. Higher education is expensive. This is the unfortunate truth in the world of education. Many students don’t end up studying abroad because they cannot afford it. However, studying abroad is possible on a budget. The individual students just has to decided if the benefits of the experience will outweigh the hit to his or her bank account. The benefits of studying abroad are costly but if a student takes the time to search for a scholarship, grant, or loan the cost is manageable.

A student who studies abroad is more prepared for life after undergraduate school. The study abroad student has already experienced taking risks, problem solving, interacting with new cultures, working under pressure, and successfully navigating the unknown. The student has gone through an important period of personal growth and an accelerated period of learning. While study abroad can seem like a daunting concept in the beginning, it’s benefits and future advantages outweigh the cost and other personal disadvantages every time. If a student is considering whether or not to study abroad the benefits show, the best response is to do it.


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