10 Reasons Why You Should Study Abroad (Even If You’re Not Sure You Want To)

Posted on Jul 27, 2015 | 3 comments

10 Reasons Why You Should Study Abroad (Even If You’re Not Sure You Want To)

I had always planned to study abroad. When I was still in middle school, I mapped out where and exactly how long I wanted to travel the world. The only thing that I didn’t account for was reality kicking in. Fast forward to my sophomore year of college: I didn’t get accepted into my first-choice location, none of my friends were going, I had just gotten into a steady relationship, and I didn’t have any money saved up. I was filled with so many doubts, but I still knew that if I didn’t go, I would always regret it. Here are 10 reasons why you too should study abroad, even if you’re not sure you want to.


1. Experience a new culture.

It’s completely different to visit a country on vacation than it is to live there for an extended period of time. Sure, you’ll still explore all the tourist attractions; but while a culture is defined by it’s famous landmarks, I would argue that it’s defined even more by the little things. How do people take their coffee (if they even drink coffee)? Do their days end earlier or later? How do they drive? Do they prefer handshakes or kisses? Understanding these cultural differences early on will help you in future international business negotiations, regardless of whether you work abroad in the future or stay in your home country.


2. Learn a new language.

I cannot stress how invaluable it is to be in the country that speaks the language that you’re trying to learn. I learned more Spanish in my four months spent in Madrid, Spain than in four years of high school language classes. You’ll be amazed at what you’re able to remember when your ability to eat dinner relies on your ability to order it in a foreign language! Also, keep in mind that rapid technological advancements are shrinking the world every day. Employers are more likely to hire someone who can speak more than one language.


3. Easy, cheap travel.

Wherever you choose to go will have amazing travel opportunities to the areas surrounding it. It’s so much cheaper to travel to Rome when you’re studying in Berlin than it is to get there when you’re home in the United States. You’ll save thousands of dollars on travel expenses just by choosing to study abroad in the first place.


4. Meet new people.

When you study abroad every person that you come in contact with is a potential new friend. You’ll find that if you just take the initiative to start a conversation with someone new (especially in a foreign tongue) they’ll usually be pretty welcoming. This also has to do with the social norms of the city you’re studying in. I spend a lot of time in New York City, where people are notoriously closed-off and prefer to keep to themselves when around strangers. However, in most European countries it’s much more common to interact with strangers as if they were your closest friends. Take advantage of that! Another incentive to meet new people while studying abroad is to make professional contacts for the future. If you’re thinking about working in a different country once you’ve graduated college, think of your time studying abroad as the start of your international networking journey!


5. Explore your heritage.

Does your family have roots in Ireland? Is your grandfather from Shanghai? As first reported by Mashable, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2020 more than 50% of all U.S. consumers will be classified as multicultural. Still, I’d argue that most multicultural U.S. citizens have not actually been to the countries their family members hail from. Use your study abroad experience as an opportunity to live somewhere where you’ll have access to your family’s heritage. Since living in Spain for four months, I’m now capable of relating to my mother and grandmother on a level that I’ve never been able to comprehend before. You’ll also probably have a lot of epiphanies about yourself and maybe even see some of your own natural tendencies in your heritage culture.


6. New food!

I have no problem admitting that I ate more than my fair share of food in every country that I visited. What’s the point of saying no?! I said yes to fresh baguettes and Nutella crepes in Paris, paella and jamón serrano in Madrid, and fish and chips in London. You can learn so much about a culture from their food! It was my favorite way to immerse myself in their day-to-day life.


7. Learn about yourself.

The most valuable thing that I brought back from my time abroad was not any souvenir or photograph (though I have some pretty priceless pictures) but rather a greater understanding of myself. The way in which you handle your study abroad experience may surprise you. You’ll learn what you truly value in life, what you can and cannot live without. You may even gain a greater appreciation for where you grew up and your loved ones. Above all, studying abroad will give you a chance to build confidence in your ability to flourish in unfamiliar situations that require a great deal of independence.


8. Defy stereotypes.

When studying abroad, it’s not uncommon to be seen by locals as the spokesperson for your home country. To a certain extent, your opinions represent the opinions of your home country and influence how locals perceive your country. Take this opportunity to defy some of the negative or misleading stereotypes that foreigners have about your country. Help spread awareness about the realities of living there, and take the time to discuss the misconceptions that are pushed in popular culture. Remember this works both ways: before you arrive, identify the pre-existing stereotypes about the country you’re studying in, and make an effort to discover whether or not they are actually based in fact while you’re there.


9. Increase employment prospects.

Study abroad experience can do wonders for your résumé/CV. Employers are often fascinated by your experience abroad, so it’s a great point to emphasize during interviews. Your foreign language proficiency is much higher than those who’ve never practiced speaking outside of the classroom, and your understanding of foreign cultures demonstrates international awareness and tolerance. This is a huge plus point for large companies that have multiple offices spanning multiple countries. If you want, you could also get an internship during your time abroad to start adding real life experience to your global résumé/CV. (Passport Career offers a whole database for global internships!)


10. When will you ever have the opportunity to do this again?!

Just do it.



Passport Career provides detailed career and cultural information and extensive resources for finding a job, internship, or alternative career opportunity in over 80 countries. If your organization, company, embassy, university/college, library or other institution would like access to our country portfolios (15,000+ pages of expert content for 80+ countries and 250+ cities) to share with your employees, their spouses/partners, students and others managing a national or international career transition, please contact us regarding a free, live, online demo and details on how to obtain a license to access Passport Career.


Kayla Neal, Marketing and Social Media Manager


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