Participating in a study abroad program is a life-changing experience, and the benefits of experiencing a new culture in a foreign country can positively impact many aspects of your life.
At Remitly, we strongly believe in the benefits of international education and have put together this guide to demonstrate all the ways that a study abroad experience can be beneficial for students. Read on to discover why you should consider studying abroad.
Academic benefits of studying abroad
Studying abroad has definite academic benefits for undergraduate and graduate-level students, including the following:
Learning a new language
Numerous studies have shown language immersion to help develop fluency in a foreign language. While studying abroad, where the official language differs from your native language, you can quickly pick up vocabulary and learn to speak more naturally than you would if you simply studied a new language at home.
International students fluent in multiple languages may also be better at general problem-solving, critical thinking, and pattern recognition. In other words, building your language skills while studying abroad may improve your academic performance.
Accessing more courses
In some cases, your host university may offer courses that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to take at home. You may take classes from world-renowned professors or participate in an internship while you study abroad.
Experiencing new teaching methods and classrooms
The way professors present materials and structure classrooms differs from country to country. During your time abroad, you may have the opportunity to study in an environment that is radically different from what you’re accustomed to.
Not only can a change of scenery change your perspective on your field, but you may also develop new skills that can benefit you once you return to your home country.
Earning a competitive edge for graduate school admissions
If you plan to pursue post-graduate education, studying abroad may give you an edge over other applicants. Those who gain international experience often stand out in today’s globalized world. As a result, you may be more likely to get accepted over other prospective students who have similar grades but haven’t studied abroad.
Study abroad programs can open the doors to new research opportunities. Imagine researching the Italian Renaissance surrounded by the architecture and art in Florence or learning about biodiversity in a country like Costa Rica.
Cultural benefits of studying abroad
Getting exposed to a new culture can pay off in big ways. Here are some of the cultural benefits of studying abroad.
Gaining a new perspective
Being surrounded by new cultures can shift your perspective.
Initially, you can expect to feel some culture shock as you adjust to daily life in your new city or town. Once you settle in, you can observe different cultures by interacting with locals and fellow students, some of whom will likely be from other foreign countries.
By the end of your study abroad program, you may see things differently than you did before and have a deeper appreciation for different cultures.
Developing a better understanding of a new country
While you can learn a lot from reading, watching the news, and interacting with people on social media, nothing compares to actually experiencing other countries firsthand. Time simply spent exploring a country can lead you to make discoveries about life there that you never would have experienced otherwise.
When your study abroad placement ends, you’ll have a deeper understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of where you were. You may find that your experience in another country changes how you think about things like social services, healthcare, and personal rights back home.
Sampling new foods
Some of the cultural benefits of living in your host country are guaranteed to be delicious. A country’s culinary traditions are often deeply intertwined with its history and culture. Tasting what your host country has to offer is all part of the experience of living in a new environment.
While you study abroad, you’ll have the chance to try new food and beverages, and you may return home knowing how to prepare new dishes.
Experiencing new music, pop culture, and art
Other cultures have their own music, movies, television, and art to discover. You may find that you love a style of music you’ve never heard before, get a new celebrity crush, uncover new interests, or find new ways to express your thoughts and feelings through creative activities based on what you experience while abroad.
Traveling beyond your host country
Depending on visa requirements and your schedule, you may travel beyond the location of your study abroad program during your stay. For example, you might spend a weekend in another European, African, Middle Eastern, or Southeast Asian country. Traveling while you study abroad can give you even more new perspectives and experiences.
Learning local history
During your time abroad, the history of your destination country can come to life. You can visit museums and historic sites to learn more about the local history. Ultimately, you may walk away with different viewpoints about global historical events.
Career benefits of studying abroad
When you seek work after graduation, your experience as a study abroad student can be an asset. Here’s how studying abroad can provide professional opportunities.
Gaining international experience
In our global world, international experience is valuable. Completing a study abroad program can give you a more global perspective on your field. Future employers may be more eager to hire you because you have a broader understanding of your industry or areas of interest than other applicants.
Establishing international connections
You’ll meet many people during your study abroad program, from other students to faculty to people in the community, and all these individuals could become part of your professional network. When you’re ready to progress to the next step on your career path, the people you meet abroad may be able to assist you. You may one day find a job working in your destination country.
Building cross-cultural competency
Increasing diversity is a key initiative for many companies, so being a leader requires understanding and working well with people from different backgrounds. Completing a study abroad program can improve cross-cultural competency and communication skills. Your experience shows employers that you can move outside your comfort zone and interact with people who may be very different from you.
Acquiring foreign language skills
Mastering a foreign language while studying abroad could benefit your future career. For example, you may find job descriptions for career opportunities that specify fluency in a second language is necessary or preferred because the company has customers or frequently conducts business in a foreign country.
Personal benefits of studying abroad
When you study abroad, you gain life experience and have a chance to develop new skills and further your personal growth. Read on for some of the personal benefits of study abroad programs.
Developing problem-solving skills
No matter how carefully you plan, the unexpected will happen while you’re studying abroad. You will likely encounter challenges you didn’t anticipate, and each time you do, you’ll gain experience that will further your personal development. Studying abroad can strengthen your problem-solving and decision-making skills to benefit both your personal and professional life later on.
Making lifelong friends
The people you meet are one of the biggest benefits of studying abroad. In and out of your classes, you’ll have a chance to make new friends from your home country, host country, and other places in the world. Even once you return home, you can remain in contact with these individuals and continue to foster strong relationships.
Adjusting quickly to new surroundings
Being flexible and able to function well despite new circumstances and surroundings can help you adjust to changes in jobs and relationships. While studying abroad, you’ll be taken out of your comfort zone and have to learn how to adapt. When challenges arise in the future, you may find it easier to take the steps necessary to ensure a smoother transition.
Acquiring more independence is an important part of college life. As a student in a new country where you may not know many people or anyone at all, you’ll become more self-reliant. Handling things on your own while studying abroad could make you a more capable person once you return home.
Most students never get the opportunity to study abroad, and even those who do have a chance to become international students may hesitate due to fear of the unknown.
Seizing the opportunity to learn in another country and overcoming the new challenges that come from navigating cultural differences and language barriers are achievements that you can feel proud of. As a result, you may become more self-confident after your experience.
Now that you know why you should study abroad, it’s time to explore your options. Learn how to choose a study abroad program and check out our study abroad checklist to get started.
Remitly is on a mission to make international money transfers faster, easier, more transparent, and more affordable. Since 2011, millions of people have used Remitly to send money with peace of mind. Visit the homepage, download our app, or check out our Help Center to get started.