In the 20 short years I have been on this Earth, I have made countless mistakes. I could write a book series triple the length of Harry Potter on all of my mistakes, with at least half of those books dedicated to those awful middle school years. Yet, every once in a while, I make a good decision and studying abroad is the best decision I have ever made. Writing this from my cozy dorm in France while drinking my very cheap but delicious wine, I cannot imagine ever doubting my decision to study abroad or having to convince myself, but I did, many times. I hope that this list helps to convince others of the many reasons to study abroad in college.
1. The opportunity to experience a foreign culture.
When you study abroad, you immerse yourself in another culture. This is probably one of the most important out of all the reasons to study abroad. Before leaving America, I thought I knew what to except in France from years of French classes, but France still surprises me every day. You will not just be learning about the food, holidays, and history; you will be living their history and holidays and eating their food. You might experience protests that can shut down a city and cancel classes for weeks in a row, or an enrolling process for the university that had to have been created when we thought the Earth was flat. From studying abroad, you gain an understanding of the culture that cannot be taught in books.
2. The surefire way to make lifelong friendships.
When I arrived in France I had no idea I would be making lifelong friends or how easy it is to make friends. The first few weeks of studying abroad are like kindergarten; no one knows what to do, no one understands anything, but making friends is as simple as breathing and naps are essential. Not every person you meet will become a lifelong friend, but chances are you will leave with a new best friend.
3. You will develop as a person on so many different levels.
There is a quote by Mary Anne Radmacher that says, “I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” For me, the other side of the world was France. For the first time in my life I was completely responsible for myself. Whether I lived or died was in my hands so I had to grow and become a person capable of taking care of themselves. I learned how to cook for myself, plan trips that include multiple countries, keep myself safe when I am alone in foreign cities, make my own doctor’s appointments, and many more things you learn when you’re on your own in a foreign country.
4. The improvement of your additional language-speaking skills.
Especially if you’re majoring or minoring in a language, this is one of the most important reasons to study abroad. Stop reading this and go to our international department immediately. The easiest and most fun way to master a language is studying abroad. After a school year in France, no, I am not fluent, but my language skills and my understanding of the language have improved dramatically and with some more time, I believe I can become fluent. I have learned language is not just knowing the words but it’s also understanding the culture that created those words. For those with no additional language skills, you can still study abroad! There are many different programs tailored to students who only speak English. In addition, from traveling, you will pick up so many words from different languages, it is as if you have learned a second language. I arrived as a French major but I can order my food in Spanish and I can ask for directions in Portuguese. As you travel and meet people from other countries it’s impossible not to learn words and phrases from different languages.
5. The ability to travel to many different places within a short period of time and for less of a cost.
When else will you have four months or more to travel to different countries? Every weekend is a new opportunity to travel. Also, different countries have different school breaks. For example in France, the first semester you have a week off in October and the second semester, you get a two-week spring break. My study abroad program is very hands off so all traveling I did was planned by my friends and I, but for others who don’t want to plan their own trips, there are many study abroad programs with trips included.
Additional Reasons To Travel Abroad
Other reasons to study abroad that I didn’t mention include the fact that it enhances your resume and employment opportunities, expands your worldview, and grants you worldly life experience in a year or semester.
Do your research and pick a program and country that suit your needs. If you’re considering studying abroad, do it. You won’t regret it.
What are some other reasons to study abroad? Comment below and share this article with friends!
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Nia Scott is a junior at ESU majoring in English and French. She hopes to find a career that allows her to write and travel. Nia spends her time traveling, planning future travels, and reading about faraway places. She is a huge fan of '90s music and believes batman is the best superhero.