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5 ways studying abroad can transform your university experience

Updated: Jun 30


Studying abroad is about more than just earning college credits in a foreign country; it’s a transformative process that can redefine your university experience and inform your life for years to come. From cultural immersion to personal growth and professional opportunities, studying abroad has the power to shape your perspective and future in ways you never imagined.


From 2021-2022 I spent a full year studying abroad: a semester in Ukraine with SRAS (School for Russian and Asian Studies) in 2021, and a semester in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in 2022, which I organized independently. I can say with confidence that these nine months spent abroad had a hugely transformative impact on every aspect of my life.


These are 5 ways you can benefit from study abroad, just like I did:


1.  Explore beyond your textbooks: 


Studying abroad isn't just about textbooks and lectures; it's about immersing yourself in a melting pot of cultures and viewpoints. Interacting with locals, attending cultural events, and exploring the local community provided me with a new understanding of the world. Each interaction, whether in the busy center or a quiet cafe, offered a valuable lesson in cross-cultural communication. You’ll meet people from vastly different walks of life, and you’ll learn how to assimilate into a culture that’s different from your own, gaining an understanding of its customs, traditions, and way of life.


2.  Build resilience through adversity:


As I immersed myself in a foreign culture, I was faced with situations that required me to make decisions independently. From managing my finances to finding my way around a new city, each task contributed to my growth and development. The challenges of navigating daily life in a foreign country forced me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to adapt to unfamiliar situations. I learned that I can rely on myself to figure things out, and that when I make mistakes, I can find a solution. This confidence has served me particularly well upon my return to an academic environment, where I have found myself able to put myself out there far more than I ever could before!


3.  Adapt to new environments: 


As you navigate the intricacies of a foreign culture, you will find yourself on a transformative journey of self-discovery and global awareness. The challenges and rewards of adapting to a new way of life will shape your character and expand your worldview in ways you never thought possible. Embracing the unknown and embracing cultural differences will not only enhance your university experience but also lay the foundation for a future filled with cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.

 

4.  Improve your professional prospects:

 

Employers value the skills and qualities gained from studying abroad - adaptability, cross-cultural communication, and global perspective. These qualities give graduates a competitive edge in the global job market, opening doors to a wide range of career opportunities. Exposure to different cultures and perspectives can develop your empathy, respect, and cultural sensitivity: qualities that are highly valued in today's global workforce. Employers recognize the value of international experience, as it demonstrates a candidate's readiness to work in diverse settings and tackle complex challenges with an open mind.

 

5.  Learn a language:

 

In an increasingly globalized world, proficiency in a second language is becoming more and more important. My ability to speak a second language actually got me a job as a research assistant! Wherever you end up studying, putting in an effort to learn the local language is always noticed and appreciated by the people who live there – and you’ll find that integrating into the local community will lead to experiences that you never would have had otherwise!   

From broadening your academic horizons and immersing yourself in different cultures to fostering personal growth and gaining valuable career advantages, studying abroad has the power to shape you in the most unexpected of ways.

So, if you've ever thought about studying abroad, I urge you to take the leap. Embrace the unknown, step out of your comfort zone, and embark on a journey that will not only transform your university experience but also shape the person you are becoming. Trust me, studying abroad can truly be a life-changing adventure that you'll never forget.


 

 


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