Like many college students today, I’m one of the many who plans to study abroad within my next four years. Whether you go for a year, a semester or go intern for a summer, every opportunity is a valuable one. For the rest of your career and even your life, you’ll have an indispensable experience to discuss with employers, friends and family. You may have already visited these places or have ideas about what they may be like, but you’ll truly learn to appreciate and understand a new culture once you are 100 percent immersed in their lifestyle. You realize just how increasingly different society may be from your hometown.
You Become More Independent
Being thrown into another country throws you into another lifestyle completely. When you’re halfway across the world and on your own, you’re forced to adapt to a new living situation. This is stressful, but once it’s managed it allows you to have some of the most valuable skills such as understanding how to manage money (especially once you have to learn a different currency!), learning to use metro systems that you may have never used before or understanding how to ask for certain things when experiencing a language barrier. The more you travel, the more independency skills you gain.
The most important factor in studying abroad is that you’re becoming completely independent of anyone else—the only person you’re relying on is yourself, and you’re moving outside of your comfort zone in order to learn more about a new culture.
You Can Learn Another Language
Most of us have taken a language course at some point in our education. For me, I took Spanish all throughout high school and have been continuing it in college. The best way to quickly learn a language is to be completely immersed in it. Although language courses allow you the opportunity to study a language, there is no better way to learn than to have to figure out ways to talk to locals, ask people questions, and even just order food at restaurants. Some of my friends who studied abroad for a semester came back with more knowledge of a language than they had after studying it for many years. If it’s a language that you’ve been studying for a long time or are almost fluent in, it even gives you a chance to practice your skills and make sure that you don’t lose them!
Don’t forget that companies love bilingual employees! If you can say that you speak multiple languages, companies will be extremely impressed by that skill. Effective communication is one of the most valued skills by employers.
It Opens Up More Networking Opportunities for the Future
Some study abroad programs offer the chance to intern or work while abroad. These allow you to form connections with people who work in similar programs in a completely different region of the world. Even through taking classes in your major, you will meet other people, either from the area or who are also studying abroad. This is a good chance to learn what others are studying and possibly explore connections to future job positions! Jobs are much easier to pursue when you have previous connections to the company, which is why networking is so important during college.
If you are interested in learning more about studying abroad, visit Global UCF or attend one of their information sessions this month!