How Studying Abroad Can Help Your Life & Career
Ever have that moment when you’re having so much fun it doesn’t seem real. Your chest feels like you’re breathing clearly for the first time. Your stomach is bubbling and you can’t stop smiling even if you wanted to. I experienced that for the first time walking down the street in Edinburgh, Scotland.
For those starting college for the first time or who’ve been there for years, consider studying abroad.
In my third year of college, I was finally able to keep my GPA above 3.0. It took me awhile to get used to college so my grades were low for a while. Once I raised my GPA, I started getting letters from the Study Abroad Department, letting me know I was eligible to study abroad. I’d put those letters aside because I assumed I wasn’t the kind of person who could study overseas. I mean, I didn’t have a ton of money. My grades were okay but not great. So, I ignored those letter.
Then, one semester I decided to go for. Don’t know what changed. I applied and got accepted into Kingston University in England.
Turns out, studying abroad didn’t cost as much as I expected. Tuition and housing were the same amounts I was paying for my home school. I worked an administrative assistant job over the summer to get spending money.
At the end of August in 2007, I was on my way to London to study English for a semester.
Since I lived in England, I could travel to other countries, which I did. I was surprised how little it cost. If you booked a flight early enough, the ticket could cost like $20. You won’t be flying on the best plane but it’ll get you to where you want to go. Train tickets weren’t that expensive, either. We stayed in hostels which were about 5-10 euros a bed.
How can studying abroad help your career?
I remember being terrified as my parents saw me off at the airport. If I could’ve backed out then, I would have. That wasn’t the last time I faced my fears. My host school gave study abroad students the opportunity to sign up for weekend tours to other countries. I signed up for 3 without knowing anyone in the group. I forced myself to do a lot of things that terrified me. Now, I’m more likely to take risks, to step out of my comfort zone.
“You must go on an adventure to find out where you truly belong.” Sue Fitzmaurice
When you feel like you don’t fit in, sometimes it’s best to find a different environment. I gained confidence while being abroad because I ran into a group of people that accepted me for me. I realized there was nothing wrong with me. This mindset carried over when I returned home.
Broaden Your Mind
If you’re around the same kind of people, the same kind of environment, all your life, you tend to have a narrow view of things.
“When you study abroad you will find incredible new foods, customs, traditions, and social atmospheres. You will find that you have a better understanding and appreciation for the nation’s people and history.” (International Student)
Honestly, studying abroad may not be fun at first. When I lived in England, just going to the grocery store was a chore. I didn’t recognize most of the food. I was paying for everything in pounds which was a pain. It took me a while to find food I enjoyed. I found the most amazing vegetable soup. Can’t find it here. I miss that soup.
Enhance Your People Skills
When you live abroad, you’ll interact with different kinds of people. You become more comfortable around people who aren’t like you.
“Learning how to interact with people from other countries and cultures equips future leaders in all sectors to address urgent issues — from curing diseases and finding energy solutions, to fighting terrorism and hunger — shared across borders.” (Every Student Should Study Abroad)
All my family was across the ocean. Calling them was expensive. Study abroad students were all put in a program at our host school, mostly so we won’t be totally alone. The program didn’t baby us though. If things got difficult, I had to figure it out myself. Up until that point, I’d always lived on campus. In England, I lived several miles away from school. I paid rent every month and commuted to class, all for the first time. Studying abroad prepared me to move away from home after I graduated college.
Ever think about studying abroad? Where would you want to go?