Somewhere within almost all of us–whether it is outward and apparent or buried deep inside behind a veil of “I can’t” and “I won’t” statements–is the desire to explore. This feeling of “wanderlust” can only truly be satisfied through adventure and exploration in the first-person. Documentaries and travel books are great, but few things can top the feeling of setting foot in another country not only for fun or for the novelty, but to learn. To immerse yourself in a new culture and gain a real understanding of who the people around you are, how they’re different than you and perhaps most importantly, how you’re the same.
But it’s not always easy to travel the world and satisfy your wondrous, explorational sense of self when you spent the better part of your week in class, doing homework assignments, at an internship or working at a part-time job. Traveling as a full-time college student is, to put it bluntly, almost impossible save for summer breaks (if you get one).
That is the exact reason that you should take full advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. There’s a good chance your university has a study abroad program somewhere within its walls that will allow for you to take classes at an international university, typically at the same tuition cost.
Not only does studying abroad allow you to learn and engage with new cultures, it requires it. Lessons taught in America aren’t taught the same manner globally. Opening yourself to classes in Australia, England, France or Brazil effectively opens yourself to new and exciting cultural climates and teaching styles and helps to further your global perspective.
Marketing taught from a Chilean perspective might not be the same take on standard marketing methods and practices in America. The purpose of you sitting in class day in and day out is, of course, to learn. You’re there to soak in the knowledge of those who have walked the walk and now are granted the responsibility of talking the talk. So what if you opened your mind to a large collection of others who have done the same but with vastly different experiences? Not only will you be expanding your own horizons, you’ll be bringing back experiences and knowledge with you when you return to the states.
I had the personal privilege of attending a prestigious international institute from 2nd through 4th and 8th through 11th grade while growing up in Egypt. To this day, I can attribute my global viewpoints and multi-cultural background to my time spent studying and learning through my time abroad there.
Not to downplay the importance of a first-rate education, studying abroad gives students the opportunity to see the world while they learn. I’ve already covered the benefits of having what is called a “global perspective” in a previous post. Spending a semester overseas provides you an opportunity to gain an inside look at other cultures and how they work in real-time and real-life. Seeing other cultures first-hand–particularly if you’ve been mostly sedentary until this point in your life– is an unbeatable, life-changing experience that ensures you emerge a better and more educated person.
Past the immersive cultural and educational benefits, studying abroad also looks fantastic on a resume. When potential employers see that you stepped outside of your own comfort zone in the name of education it reflects well upon you and says a lot about your personality and willingness to learn.
Don’t want your travels to end when your college career comes to a close and your professional career kicks off? Check out my post about careers that are conducive to travel.