19 October 2009 03:18 PM

Top 10 Reasons College Students Should Study Abroad

by Dr. Rick

I'm a travel nut.  I firmly believe that travel will expand our minds, help us understand other cultures as well as our own, and give us experiences that simply cannot be found at home.  Throughout my long career I've encouraged students to travel as much as they can -- as students, as adults, professionally, and personally.  I strongly support the increasing numbers of colleges and universities that promote, and even mandate, study time abroad.  I've written about the beneficial effects of travel on language-learning in “The Importance of Language (Part 1)” and “The Importance of Language (Part 2).”  http://www.drrickblog.com/post/2008/10/14/The-Importance-of-Language-(Part-1).aspx and http://www.drrickblog.com/post/2008/10/16/The-Importance-of-Language-(Part-2).aspx


Today we hear from guest blogger Michelle Fabio, who shares ideas about study abroad.  Not surprisingly, she's an advocate for many of the same reasons I am.  Get the travel bug, and watch how lifelong learning takes on universal meaning.  Quite literally!


Welcome, Michelle.


Top 10 Reasons College Students Should Study Abroad

If you're on the fence about whether you should apply to a study abroad program, it's time to get off the fence and jump into the application process. Why?

Quite simply, studying abroad is one of the most rewarding, enriching, exciting opportunities available to college and graduate students--and here are the top 10 reasons why you should study abroad:

  1. Learn and/or practice a language.
    It's no secret that learning a language requires lots of practice and that full immersion is the fastest way to become fluent in a language. Whether you're looking to put your second language into use or learn a new one, studying abroad offers a great chance for language practice in its natural environment.

  2. Immerse yourself in a different culture.
    The United States is a diverse country to be sure, but what would be like to live on a different continent where not only the language is different but also the basic culture, foods, clothing, perhaps even predominant religious beliefs? Studying abroad can help you find out and become more understanding and accepting of various cultures.

  3. Earn educational credits.
    The vast majority of study abroad programs offer the opportunity for you to earn college or graduate school credits; in fact, it is essential that you look for programs through which you can gain credits. Not only will you be still working toward your degree, you will also remain eligible for financial aid. You may also be able to take courses that wouldn't be available at home.

  4. Learn new things about yourself and your country.
    Living and learning in a new culture can make you realize that you had skills, talents, and personal traits you never even knew you had as you learn to adapt and solve problems in your new setting surrounded by new people.

  5. Use your study abroad location as a travel starting point.
    If you like to travel, your study abroad experience can provide you a great starting point for day trips and longer visits to new places over breaks from school. And if you don't particularly enjoy traveling alone, chances are good that you'll be able to find a travel partner as study abroad students often enjoy traveling as well.

  6. Make international friends.
    Study abroad programs attract students from all over the world; you will have a good opportunity to make lifetime friendships as you all will be in similar situations--far from home and living in a foreign land. Even better, the Internet now makes it very easy to keep up with your international friends no matter where you all end up after the program.

  7. Make international contacts for future networking.
    In the same vein as the above reason, studying abroad provides a great opportunity for you to make contacts in the professional realm for after you graduate from school, especially if you are interested in working in that country. And even if you eventually look for a job in your home country, employers will love your international experiences as global relationships gain increasing importance.

  8. Gain a broader, more worldly perspective.
    There's nothing that quite matches the experience of being on the outside looking in; by studying abroad, you'll get a different perspective on your own country's values and beliefs by seeing them through the eyes of others who didn't grow up in the same culture.

  9. Assert your independence.
    You're probably already living a fairly independent lifestyle anyway if you're considering studying abroad, but this is just one more step on the road to adulthood. You'll be far away from family and friends and really, truly making in on your own. Be proud!

  10. Relax a bit.
    Most study abroad programs are known for their more relaxed atmospheres than American university settings, so you can use your study abroad time to take a break from regular life--and still earn credits in the meantime to boot. Even if you find yourself in a rigorous program, you'll still be out of the same old-same old routine; changing it up will probably make you more energized to return to your home school.

Guest post by freelance writer Michelle Fabio, About.com Guide to Law School, who also writes about how to choose the best online master degree program for you.






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