Study abroad and say bon voyage
By Harriet Siegrist
In essence, studying abroad can seem daunting and sound scary, but in reality it may be one of the most beneficial experiences, especially for college students. The opportunity to live in a foreign country grants you the chance to learn different cultures and lifestyles, and possibly see other countries if you travel while abroad. There are plenty of reasons to hop on the airplane and get a new stamp (or stamps!) on your passport, whether it be for three weeks or three months. Keep reading to learn about more benefits to studying abroad.
- New food
Every place has traditional foods and drinks and you will get many chances to eat dishes that you don’t get in the U.S. Whether it’s drinking a Guinness in Ireland or eating a macaroon in France, there’s bound to be something you’ll want to try while you’re away.
Education is vastly different depending on where you travel to. Going abroad is an opportunity to experience alternate styles of learning. You’ll broaden your knowledge and gain perspective. The classroom is a great place to familiarize yourself with the customs and get to know your new country.
Receiving the chance to learn another language is an opportunity you should never turn down. Although not all programs will require you to know the country’s main language, one of the greatest ways to become fluent is to expose yourself to the language. For example, living in a Spanish speaking country will vastly improve your Spanish speaking skills.
- Learn a new culture
The distinct cultures and traditions of different countries are fascinating. Exposing yourself to somewhere new forces you to learn and adapt to incredible new customs, traditions, and social interactions. It takes time to adjust to a new place and you may experience culture shock, but in the end the difficulties you experience will be worth the stories and memories you bring home.
- Career opportunities
After returning home you’ll bring back new perspectives on life, potentially language skills, new education, and hopefully a larger willingness to learn and grow. All of these great things will help you stand out to a future employer and set you apart from other applicants. Many employers have admitted that study abroad alums have a better chance of being hired, and the same goes for graduate schools, accepting more students who have studied abroad.
Even if you decide that you would rather move back to the country after you graduate, having lived there for some time and experiencing a new education system may become valuable in finding a job in the U.S.
- Find new interests
Being in the Midwest means you more than likely haven’t been able to experience everything you would like to, like surfing or hiking in the mountains. When you leave for another country you’ll find new activities and interests. Who knows, maybe you have an undiscovered talent for windsurfing, but you can’t find out without going somewhere that offers such a thing. Besides trying activities, countries have different forms of entertainment. Nothing beats the excitement of an international fútbol match or seeing a live salsa performance in Madrid.
- Personal development
If this is your first time being away from home for an extended period of time, remember this is an opportunity to grow, learn about yourself, exit your comfort zone and become more independent. You get the chance to explore the world and your curiosity about everything you encounter. Sometimes it is overwhelming to be in a new place, especially if you try out a solo trip, but testing your independence and adapting to situations will empower you and help with problem solving. You may get lost but what you find may be even greater than what you were looking for.
- Crossing off experiences on your bucket list
So you want to see the Amazon rainforest, visit the Eiffel tower, and kiss the Blarney Stone? Unless you take the leap and hop on the airplane, you won’t be crossing off those experiences from your bucket list anytime soon. But if you study abroad, you may be following your dreams before you even graduate college. Now doesn’t sound that more appealing than only seeing photos online?
- Life experiences and memories
This could be your only opportunity to travel for a long period of time. Eventually you’ll have a career, maybe a family, and other things that’ll hold you back. You don’t want your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pass before you even get to grab at it.
The time is now for you to travel the world, learn from it, and grow. Studying abroad is an experience that is unlike anything else. It is unique and every student should try it if they are able to. Visit the CEL office or email Abigail.Behrens@loras.edu for more information on your future trip.