4 Benefits of Study Abroad
Weekends on the beach with waves, snorkeling, fresh fruit, and gallo pinto in Costa Rica.
Visiting the Brandenburg Gate, taking pictures with every Berlin bear you come
across, touring art museums, and paying tribute to Holocaust victims at various memorials and concentration camps in Germany.
Colombia presents horseback riding through the countryside before hiking up beautiful mountains. Then, getting around Medellín on a suspended metrocable before taking a bus to the colorful town of Guatape and hiking up El Peñón.
The above descriptions are not only ideal vacation adventures, but they are also excursions I experienced during various study (and work) abroad in experiences in college and law school. (In college I studied abroad; In law school I worked abroad.) Debating whether or not you should study abroad? Here are four benefits to participating in a study abroad program.
1) Language Immersion
Hands down, the #1 way to learn, or perfect, a foreign language is to immerse
yourself totally in the desired language. I had been taking Spanish classes since the age of 13, and I could carry a basic conversation. However, after only 1 month of living with a host family in Costa Rica, I began to speak fluent Spanish! Your growth (especially if you have already taken precursor language classes) will
be exponential once you immerse yourself in the language. Some study abroad programs even offer the opportunity to take language classes while you are in the country. If increased language fluency is what you are seeking, I highly suggest living with a host family.
2) Travel and see the world (most times at the same price as, or even less than,
paying tuition at home)!
As a low-income student, there is no way I would have been exposed to so many
adventures, sight-seeing experiences, food, and cultures had it not been for my study abroad experiences. Study abroad companies act as travel agents for students,
as they coordinate with the local school, plan fun weekend trips for participants, and act as a liaison for any concerns (safety, emergencies, etc.) while in the country. Depending on the study abroad company you use, the cost of study
abroad may be the same (or even cheaper) than tuition at your local university. In fact, because I was on a full academic scholarship, I received a heftier-than-normal refund check the semester I studied abroad. (The final cost I had to pay to the study abroad company (which included the foreign university’s tuition, as well as my lodging and meals) turned out to be less than the cost of living at my home university.)
3) Boost your resume.
Make the “Education” section of your resume standout by listing a foreign university. It subliminally communicates to a future employer or grad-school application reader that you have advanced critical thinking and analytical skills. Because trust me, it definitely takes some critical thinking skills to, for instance, find your way home after getting lost on the public transportation system of a big city in a foreign country, or grocery shop when everything in the store is written in German. On a serious note,
studying abroad is a clever way to hint that you know how to navigate unfamiliar situations and work with diverse cultures and groups of people. It shows an advanced level of personal development that cannot be gained from a textbook.
This may apply more so to graduate and professional students, but study, or work, abroad to refine your research. There is nothing like getting the information you need by interviewing the people on the ground, checking out local libraries and resources, and just simply working in-field.
Needless to say, studying (and working) abroad was one of the highlights of my college and law school days. I hope you get to experience the joys of engaging in a study abroad experience. Happy traveling while you study!
Angel Everett, Esq.
Founder/CEO, Harvard and Hardship LLC