[Photo by: Taylor Scott/Instagram]
Many students have doubts as to whether or not they should study abroad. Maybe they are too afraid to go out on their own, or maybe it might feel like it’s way too much work. Which is sad, because not many students in the world are given this awesome opportunity. The ability to study abroad is an amazing blessing and one of the most incredible experiences a college student can have. Here are 10 reasons why studying abroad changes everything about you as a person for the better.
Seeing the world with your own eyes
[Pictured: The view from the top of the eiffel tower at night]
There’s nothing quite like being able to experience something yourself. We often read or hear about faraway places in books and on television, but rarely have the chance to grasp what that place really might be like. Traveling and seeing the world for yourself is an incredible opportunity that is sure to be unforgettable no matter where you decide to go.
Experience a new culture firsthand
[Pictured: A free hotel breakfast I ate in Paris]
Choosing to study abroad means opening yourself up to all types of new cultures and perspectives. At first, you may experience a little culture shock, but learning about new food, customs and social settings is a great way to expand your horizons.
Learn a new language
[Pictured: Reading a French newspaper while eating lunch]
Despite what all those years of elementary Spanish may have taught you, there is no better way to learn a new language then to immerse yourself in it. Forcing yourself to constantly speak a new language in order to buy food, take the bus or even do your laundry will take you leaps and bounds above what you could learn in a classroom.
Boost your self-confidence and independence
[Pictured: Playing covers outside of an All Time Low concert at the Bataclan, Paris]
Being in an entirely new and unfamiliar place really tests your ability to adapt to different situations. The problems that arise with living alone, managing your own money and traveling will prepare you for life in ways that you can only learn on your own. Things happen in life that your parents and teachers can never prepare you for, and the only way to learn how to deal with these things is to handle them your own way.
Expand your worldview
[Pictured: The garden at the Würzburg Residence, Germany]
Sometimes we tend to get caught up with the little bubbles we live in, and we are unaware of the bigger picture going on in the world around us. Learning about the world, its history and its differing perspectives is an important part of growing into a more mature person. As cliché as it sounds, opening yourself up to global events and history helps you become a more worldly person.
Learn more about yourself
[Pictured: Big Ben, London]
A big part of living on your own is learning more about yourself. It’s important in life to know what things you are good at and what things you need to work on in the future. What are your strengths and weaknesses, and how are you going to use those to your advantage? Self-awareness is the most important step in making yourself into a better person.
Make friends from around the world
[Pictured: Two of my friends on our trip to the northern coast of France]
Having the opportunity to meet people from all around the world is incredibly special. Learning about entirely new cultures and worldviews while being able to share your own perspective is a unique experience. It will open your mind to opinions and ways of thinking that you had never considered before, and will help you become better at thinking outside of the box in your daily life. Having international friends is also a great excuse to continue to travel and visit new places.
Enhance your educational and career opportunities
[Pictured: The market at the Place des Lices, Rennes]
Having the experience of studying abroad on your resume is very appealing to graduate school admissions officers and future employers. Strong communication skills and intercultural awareness help you stand out among the crowd. It shows you are independent and capable of solving problems on your own, and that you could be an asset to their school or business. In an increasingly globalized society, you will be among the top candidates for any job you choose to apply to.
Live outside of your comfort zone
[Pictured: My friend Chris and I on top of the Tower of Brittany]
Most of us like to avoid being in uncomfortable situations at all costs, but studying abroad opens your eyes to how often opportunity is disguised as bad luck. Being able to make the best of a bad situation is a skill that one can only learn through trial-and-error, so don’t be afraid to try new things or do something you were afraid of doing before. Having the courage to work your way through awkward or uncomfortable experiences is an important part of how we grow and mature as individuals.
You will have a whole new appreciation for home
[Pictured: My family and I]
Being away from home really shows you how your home is different from everyone else’s in the world. Experiencing a new culture will help highlight aspects about your own that didn’t stand out as boldly as before. Hearing others’ opinions on your own culture might also help you think in ways that you hadn’t before. You will discover the things you love about your home and culture that you are proud of, and maybe a couple things that you prefer about other cultures over your own. Learning about these things helps you realize how despite all of our differences, we are all human beings, and we all have so much in common. Studying abroad truly is an incredible and life-changing experience I would encourage everyone to do.
Taylor is a graduate of Kent State University with a degree in French literature, culture and translation, as well as a part-time employee in the Alternative Press merchandise department. He took a hiatus from AP to study abroad for a semester in Rennes, France, and plans on applying to graduate school upon returning. Check him out on social media at @taylorscott216.