This is a guest post from StudyAbroad.com – the Internet’s leading source of information for students seeking a study abroad program. Find your study abroad program at StudyAbroad.com, and visit them on Facebook and Twitter.
By Nathan Nault
I always tell people that studying abroad provides students with the ultimate opportunity to experience the world. Travel, see new places, meet people from all over the world, experience new cultures and take some awesome classes. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
While the benefits of studying abroad are many, here are five that stand out from the rest:
It’s safe to say this is one of the main reasons students go abroad. Most U.S. college students haven’t been outside of the States for an extended period of time (other than vacation with their parents). Studying abroad affords you the opportunity to see the world on a budget. Places like Rome, London, Barcelona and Munich are all just a short plane ride apart. It’s quick, convenient and cheap as well. Leaving the comfort of the U.S. is not something all are able to do, especially as you begin to settle down – but as a 21 year old there is no better time.
Travel shows employers that you’re able to adapt to new situations and that you likely enjoy a little adventure in your life. It also tells employers you might be open to traveling in your job, which not everyone is willing or able to do.
As the global economy becomes more diversified, learning and becoming proficient in a foreign language is increasingly more important when it comes to finding a job after graduation. From a business standpoint, the ability to communicate with foreign clients or partners in their language will help establish a relationship that might not be possible speaking English alone. From a personal standpoint, there’s nothing better than being able to live in a foreign city, order food in restaurants, or just simply have a conversation without having to use the dictionary app on your iPhone. Studying abroad gives you the opportunity to pick up on some of the cultural nuances that a Rosetta Stone CD does not.
Learning a new language, or at least having been exposed to a foreign language, shows employers you have the ability to interact on a global level. This is key when interviewing with international companies.
At this point, studying abroad is still one of the few ways to set yourself apart from the rest of the job seeking crowd. You’ll develop perseverance, diligence, the ability adapt to unfamiliar environments, resourcefulness, critical thinking, time management, the ability to be remain calm in uncomfortable situations, open-mindedness, flexibility, effective communication and observation skills, the ability to deal with stress and respect for others opinions. These skills are the cornerstone of any good resume.
Employers understand that studying abroad is a unique way to build a resume. Your time abroad will allow you several anecdotes to share during an interview so that you can illustrate how you developed perseverance, diligence, time management and so on.
Personal Growth & Philosophy
It is truly an eye-opening experience, and as such, you’ll probably have re-examine or developed new values, priorities and views about yourself, your home (including the U.S.) and the world in general. It’s not that you don’t like where you’re from or who you associate with, it’s that you’ve been enlightened in a way that that causes you to question what you otherwise might not have, analyze how you used to live in the past and critically think about what you want to do in the future. You’ll probably find yourself thinking more philosophically as well. These are characteristics you can share in a job interview as you explain why and how you know you want the job.
While you certainly grow and develop a philosophical outlook during your college years, studying abroad takes it to the next level. Employers will appreciate you’ve taken the time to mature while abroad and determine your values, priorities and views about yourself and life. To an employer, this often means a more grounded, and productive employee.
Develop a Culturally Relative Viewpoint
This doesn’t necessarily mean you agree or adopt another countries culture and practices. It means you have the ability to understand those cultures and practices and use that understanding to analyze other situations whether it is at work, school or life in general. While studying abroad, you develop a unique set of cross-cultural skills that can be applied to all sorts of different places and situations. You are more adaptable, open minded, and perceptive. Again, while you may not agree with certain cultural differences you understand how to adapt to and accommodate them. And believe it or not, understanding other cultures enhances your own.
The ability to understand and accept viewpoints other than your own, either culturally, socially, ethically, professionally or otherwise; shows employers you are open-minded and are likely a strong team player.
Studying abroad is an invaluable experience. The most important thing to recognize is that while you are studying abroad, most of what you learn, most of the benefits, most of your personal development occurs outside of the classroom. Immersing yourself in a different culture, learning a foreign language, seeing the world, and facing new personal challenges everyday – that’s the true value of studying abroad, and it’s something that can’t be experienced on a U.S. college campus. Develop your marketability, develop your international skill set, and most importantly, develop yourself and your mindset.
What are you waiting for? Find a study abroad program and start the adventure of a lifetime!