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With an increasing number of students deciding to spend at least part, if not all, of their university degree in a foreign country, you might be wondering whether this is the right step for your own studies. To help you out, I’ve put together a list of reasons why you might want to step outside of your comfort zone and study abroad, and the real benefits which this can have for your social life, happiness, and even your future career.
1. Expand your worldview
Geography lessons are great and everything, but you will learn so much more about the world through actually living in a different culture and talking to people. It can be easy to be caught up in your own bubble and to not see what is happening all around the world. Living abroad will broaden your horizons, and will automatically ensure that you meet people from a different culture than your own, making you a more worldly, sympathetic and interesting person to be around when you return home.
2. Enjoy travel opportunities
This one is obvious: if you’re abroad already, those countries which used to feel out of reach will suddenly feel so much nearer, just because you’ve already taken the first step of moving outside of your home country. I guarantee that you’ll find yourself taking some incredible trips around your new country, or elsewhere, that you would never have done from home.
3. Boost your language skills
Of course, as a native English speaker, if you move to Amsterdam, New York or Toronto, this might not be so applicable, but moving abroad can also do wonders for your grasp of a foreign language. If you’re immersed in a particular language, you won’t be able to help improving your proficiency at it: something which will put you in an excellent position for an international career in the future. These language skills can, of course, be taught in a classroom, but there’s nothing like practising with a native speaker to really improve your abilities.
4. Boss your job applications and open up graduate opportunities
Putting your study abroad experience on your CV is highly attractive to both future employers and graduate school admissions tutors, as it shows that you are willing to take on challenging opportunities and are independent minded. It shows them too that you are open-minded and care about what is going on in the world outside of your own country. Plus, while you are abroad, you never know what opportunities – travel for work or graduate school – might open up for you: there will be opportunities out there that you never even imagined. Why not go and find out?
5. Learn about a new culture
There is no better way of understanding a different culture than actually living there. Travelling abroad can certainly teach you this – especially if you take time to visit museums and heritage sites – but you will experience the culture of a place in far greater depth if you actually live there. Plus, with a new culture comes delicious new food to taste and this can certainly be a major bonus of living abroad. It would be rude not to try all the food you can, right?
6. Learn about yourself and your own culture
There is nothing like a bit of distance from your own culture to teach you something about it which you will, doubtless, take for granted at the moment. Talking to people from outside your country about what they think of your home can also teach you a lot, and highlight aspects of it which you are blind to at the moment. Whether these are positive things or negative things, you will return to your home with a new, and more balanced perspective than you left with.
7. Become independent and overcome challenges
I’m not going to pretend that moving abroad to study doesn’t come with challenges – it does. Moving far from home to a new country where you don’t know anyone, where you are not fluent in the language and even studying at a university which could well have a very different teaching style than you are used to is bound to present you with challenges, but that is really the point. Overcoming these day-to-day challenges will make into a stronger, more independent individual and give you an immense sense of personal achievement at the end of it. If you’ve managed to study and live abroad independently, what else might you be capable of?
8. Make incredible friends
Moving abroad for studying will also open up avenues for making so many interesting friends that you’d never meet at home. Even if you move abroad for study alone, you won’t leave alone, and in some ways, it is better to go alone, as this allows you to have a completely clean slate for making new friends. Whereas if you move with another person from home, you might be tempted to stay within your comfort zone and only socialise together. Whether you make friends with other international students – and enjoy working through the fun challenges of living abroad together – or residents of your new country, I guarantee you will meet some incredible people during your studies and open up yet more avenues for travel in the future.
9. Challenge yourself to be the best you can be
On a similar note, when you move abroad, no one will have preconceptions about what kind of person you are, and that can be a truly liberating experience. If you’ve always wanted to skydive, start a band, take up bareback horse racing, or whatever else it may be, now is your chance to dive in and become the version of yourself you have always wanted to be: something which is bound to increase your happiness and self-confidence in the process.
10. Find a new home!
Finally, there is a chance that you will fall so in love with your new home that you’ll want to spend more time there in the future, and maybe even settle down there. You never know until you try it.
Bearing all of the above in mind, I hope you can see that studying abroad can bring huge advantages to your social life, career and general happiness. So, what are you waiting for? Draft your application now!