You’ve probably heard it many times before: a friend returns from their time studying abroad only to say, “it was the best time of my life”. The reason why it has become such a cliché is because it is true; each year students head to foreign countries and are introduced to new cultures, friends, landscapes, and academic experiences that will change the way they think about and view the world.
If you’re considering studying abroad and are wondering what you can get from the experience, here are just a few ways studying abroad will help you in the years to come.
Today’s world is a global one, where businesses are trading across borders, governments are in constant communication with one another, and people have the ability to travel anywhere within just a few hours. Knowing how to work within a new and different culture will give you a base of skills to succeed in this globalized world and market place, as you will understand and be aware of the significance of context, and how cultural factors and experiences differ throughout the world.
Gain Language Skills
One of the best things you can do during your time abroad is to engage in a language program in order to begin learning the local language or improve on your current level. This will not only help you to better enjoy your time abroad as you will be able to communicate more effectively with locals, but it will also make you a better candidate for jobs in the future and a more interesting and diverse person in general.
Enter a Foreign Job Market
While you might not graduate from the university you studied abroad at, you could potentially make connections while you’re there in order to work in that country in the future. Most universities both in your home country and abroad have career programs to help you line-up internships and jobs. If there is a place abroad where you would like to live and work, then studying in that country can help you lay the groundwork for your future.
Consider Studying in Countries with Major Job Markets
If you’re looking toward the future, it would be wise when planning your study abroad experience to select your destination based on the local job market and opportunities. Studying in a quickly expanding country like the UAE, China, or Brazil, might give you insights to investments and opportunities for work not available to others.
Correlate Your Destination with Your Major
While studying abroad can often be viewed as a more social than academic affair, it does provide you with the opportunity to learn in a new environment and from new people. So, for example, if you happen to be studying something like Engineering System Management, then it might be wise to choose to study at a school that is well respected in the field. This will open the doors to work with esteemed professors who could play a role in helping your future prospects—i.e. by writing letters of recommendation for jobs, graduate school etc.
Wherever and whatever you decide to study abroad, the opportunity is one that should not be passed-up.
Christopher Hastings is an adjunct professor, and travel writer. Chris has had the opportunity to study in the UAE and in Spain, and found both experiences enlightening and tries to encourage others where he can to take the plunge. Chris lives in Reading.