While in my last post I wrote about how my plan to use study abroad as an escape attempt really failed, this time I wanted to write more about the perks and benefits of studying abroad and generally living abroad. Yes, studying abroad didn’t turn out to be as liberating as I expected, but there must have been some reasons why I kept going abroad after that.
From Studying French to Studying Abroad
When I signed up for my first French class in high school, I was excited to learn another language and dazzled by the idea of being able to speak to someone from another country in their native language.
But I was also trying to be realistic. Learning languages are difficult; my siblings didn’t come out of high school fluent in Spanish or German. There were a lot of graduation requirements that I would have to fulfill for my diploma, and if I wanted to go to a good college…well, it would probably be best to just take the required 3 years of foreign language and save space for extra AP classes.
Besides, who am I kidding? I was fourteen years old and didn’t even have a passport! Where did I think I was going anyway?
That girl who was sitting in French 1 without a passport is the same girl that has visited eighteen countries to date…and counting. For anyone who is doubting, I assure you, God definitely has a sense of humor!
Without further ado, here are 18 of the benefits of living abroad and benefits of studying abroad:
Perks & Benefits of Living Abroad
(*I’ll be covering about half today and the other half in the next post.)
- Educational Benefits
- Professional Benefits
- Personal Benefits (see next post)
- Spiritual Benefits (see next post)
- Unconventional Benefits (see next post)
This list of benefits is particularly helpful if your application includes a benefits of studying abroad essay!
This perk is particularly for my peeps who are studying abroad. The benefits of going to study at a different university in another country is that you’ll likely have access to classes that aren’t offered at your school. Take advantage of the opportunity to explore a new subject or take a specialized course (after you confirm with your advisor that the course will count towards your degree).
If you’re in a country where English isn’t the official language, or the only official language, you can benefit from some authentic practice of a foreign language. Being surrounded by native speakers is rare and probably not something you will get in the US. In my experience, being immersed in an environment with your target foreign language really improves your language skills and speeds up the language learning process.
What languages do they speak in Switzerland? What are the labor laws in France? How does a country as small as Andorra have one of the highest GDP per capita?
I answered all of these questions by just living abroad, traveling, and interacting with people from these countries. As long as you keep your eyes open and your ears peeled, you’ll learn random things like this as well. (And the four official languages of Switzerland are French, German, Italian, and Romansh. ?? )
Now this particular perk depends on the policies of your home university. But the grading system and passing requirements of universities abroad differ from one to the other. So usually your home university, grades will only convert as a pass/fail. That means a “pass” would not directly affect your GPA, but simply give you the credits for the course.
So studying abroad allows you to focus more on learning the content and taking in your surroundings instead of “playing the system” to make sure you get the highest grade.
Take advantage of the opportunity to focus more on the knowledge instead of the grade.
If you’re thinking of working and living abroad, this list of benefits has some clear benefits of working abroad.
Besides the knowledge you acquire during your degree, future employers will often be looking for soft skills, like communication skills. If you can manage to communicate with people who a) don’t speak English fluently or b) operate in a different cultural context, your communication skills are probably pretty great.
While in Andorra, I worked mainly with 3 teachers, an Andorran, a Spaniard, and a Russian. Even within the same school system, they all had a different communication styles in how they planned lessons together with me and how they executed those lessons with the students. As the English Teaching Assistant, I had to learn quickly how to change my communication for the different audiences. That type of critical thinking is what employers are looking for, but it’s a skill that’s hard to teach in a training course.
One of my favorite analogies for culture is that it’s like an iceberg. Above the surface are the things that are visible to the eye, like clothing, art, fashion, and language. All of those things you can pick up with an easy google search.
However, the majority of the iceberg’s volume is beneath the surface, and it’s the same with culture. The cultural norms, customs, beliefs, and values are beneath the surface, and those are the aspects that drive everyday life for those people. By living abroad, you will naturally pick up on those aspects (human survival instincts will help with that), and those cultural competencies will be invaluable knowledge to apply to future work with any international companies.
You don’t have to learn yoga in order to be flexible. If you go abroad, you will quickly learn how to adapt, be flexible, and think on your feet. I guarantee you that not everything will go as planned. When your 5 am flight gets cancelled at midnight because of an unforeseen storm and you have to teach school the next day, you will quickly learn how to adapt. Yeah, my trip to Porto was at the mercy of an incoming hurricane, and I had to adapt and find an umbrella. ? That’s one of the ways you go about handling stress abroad–adapt.
As an exchange student, you may be in classes with local students or international students like yourself or both. Either way, any type of group projects or group essays that you’ll have to do will give you relevant experience working with international teams. With more and more companies outsourcing or hiring remote workers, you’ll likely find yourself working with international teammates. This experience will be great for you to leverage when talking about being a team player and being successful on teams with people from many different backgrounds. While I was a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Andorra, I was working with teachers from Spain, Andorra, France, and Russia. Sky’s the limit!
And your experiences studying abroad or working abroad?
What about your experiences living abroad? What have you found to be some of the benefits of studying abroad? Are there any working abroad benefits that I’m missing?
Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will cover the next 10 Perks & Benefits of Living Abroad: Personal, Spiritual, and Unconventional. If you’re unconvinced about living and working abroad or studying abroad, you don’t want to miss this second post!
Stay up to date on future posts? You can subscribe using the form on the sidebar or in the footer.
Feel free to share this post using the links below.