Why Study Abroad?

Things that need to be decided are whether a study abroad program would be beneficial to you and then narrowing down our options to which one is the right fit for you. Funding for your program, travel costs, and other expenses need to be factored into your decision. Most importantly, I believe that you should formulate a career plan that extends over a few years and see where this study abroad fits in. If your motivation is only for a cool trip to some far away land, then maybe you should look at postponing it to a paid vacation time during your future job. To remain valid, studying abroad must remain foremost about academics and development as opposed to sights and sounds. Without the educational aspect, studying abroad ceases to be just that!

Benefits

Academic

The best study abroad programs allow you to earn academic credit and transfer this credit to your home institution. This can count towards electives, a minor, or your major depending on the requirements set in place by your school.

Professional

Study abroad adds a great achievement to your resume. After the great deal of courage it took to decide to go and raise the money to go, you went, and this shows a great deal. You were able to adapt to an extremely different situation than you are used to at home, filled with strangers and weird foods. Also, it should be able to show that you were able to set aside what you thought was “the only way to do it” in your own societal framework, and accept  the practices and customs in other cultures as worthy of respect. This looks really good to employers that have a large or diverse clientele.

Personal

Study abroad programs allow you to travel to places for periods of time that you probably wouldn’t be able to afford for a good while until into your career. These programs provide home-stays or communal housing which eliminates a great deal of the cost associated with traveling: lodging. Also, you should be able to truly enjoy the location and invest considerable amount of time in the various cultural aspects found there.

Common Myth/Misconception #1

It is often touted that students should only participate in study abroad if they are majoring or minoring in a foreign language. This is however, far from the reality of things. Study abroad brings one into contact with cultures different from one’s own. They are therefore a great way to learn about how humans interact or operate without being confined to an unconscious ethnocentricity that may develop in isolation from other societies (Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology).

By experiencing other cultures, we learn how to more quickly and effectively communicate with those and with others, even if we don’t understand the language they use. Global peace and security will not be reinforced with misunderstanding, isolation, and ignorance, but with communication, cooperation, and interaction with other cultures (Communications, Political Science).

When traveling to other countries, students will be required to understand the differences in legal obligations or the universality of certain rights related to them and to the states they encounter. Visas, passports, length of travel, cross-border transit, and currency exchange all reflect the subtle, yet “in your face” role of law that study abroad supplies. Closely related is the ever-changing value of money and a student’s responsibility to be constantly aware of the market rate for his/her home currency, while understanding the sometimes complicated world of bank services fees, credit cards, and international exchange (Finance, Economics, Legal Studies).

Art, art, art. Every person alive is able to create something only he or she can create. Multiply that by how ever many people there and and how many countries they live in and you’ve got a pretty big task photographing, recording, and explaining even the more famous works. Need I say more? (Humanities, Art, History)

Most importantly to note, some study abroad programs don’t even focus on culture, but instead look to science or medicine for their focus. The biological diversity in flora and fauna across the globe is immense. Traveling to another part of the planet is a great investment in research-centric fields. (Biology, Chemistry)

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Traveling and learning abroad with Joshua S

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