If you’re thinking about applying for the opportunity to study abroad, you might be a little overwhelmed. Fear not, study abroad candidate, because in the long run you will look back on your experiences and realize how much fun you had and what kind of person you became because of your experience.
The first question people ask when learning about a study abroad program is, “Where do/would I want to go?” Well the answer to that question is almost limitless. Hundreds of universities all over the world offer study abroad programs not only for their students to venture off, but also to provide an opportunity for students from other universities and countries to study at their institution. A study abroad program not only offers you the chance to meet students from all over the world and form life long friendships with them, but also allows you to be completely immersed in a culture different from your own. It can really make you put things into perspective for yourself and make you look at the world through a whole new light.
Countless individuals have come back from a study abroad program and realized how much they have changed for the better because of their abroad travels. Think about it: You are placed into a group of students that are in the same position as you are. No one knows each other, so you all have to venture out of your comfort zone and meet new people. People you might not be friends with outside of this program. But the fact is, you build that much more confidence by becoming friends with people you would not normally acquaint yourself with. Studying abroad will help with your confidence and with your ability to branch out of your comfort zone. It also looks good on a résumé because employers love to see that your took the initiative to try something new.
In a study abroad program, there are many chances to figure out what exactly you want to do with yourself. If you’re in the in-between stage of your life that most college kids go through, taking a step back and figuring yourself out is a perfect thing to do when abroad. For example, you could be a finance major studying abroad in Italy, go back to your original school after the semester is over and realize that you want to become and art major. Or studies abroad in Australia one semester, then the next semester change your concentration to Marine Biology. Being abroad makes one realize how much is actually out there, outside of your comfort zone. Many who have studied abroad preach that it is one of the best experiences they have had in their lifetime, and to do it while young because once you enter the work world, opportunities like being abroad will not be as readily available.
University of Minnesota student Max Epshteyn, who studied art for a semester in Italy, stated that, “Being in school, you’re already paying for loans and books and things, so why not spend some more money on a one-of-a-kind experience and travel the world for a semester.” Max did not use just his own money for the trip, however. “I used money from grants, FAFSA, scholarships, even loans from the bank. I had to look around quite a bit to be able to afford the things I wanted to do, but I cant being to explain how amazing of a time it was. Yeah it might add extra debt, but the trip will pay for itself in the long run based on all of the things I learned, and experiences I had while abroad.” His study abroad program in Italy also gave him a chance to see other parts of Europe he would not have been able to see without the study abroad program. “We had weekends off,” he said, “so we could travel to wherever we wanted to. It was also during fall semester too, so we had time off for Thanksgiving. I got to skydive in the French Alps, snowboard in Austria, and ride the trains throughout Europe. I would not have been able to do that without the study abroad opportunity.”
Programs often encourage students to travel throughout and around the location they are studying so they can better understand the culture that is surrounding them, and simply to see places they’ve always dreamed of seeing. They have information readily available for students who want to travel with their classmates on weekends or holidays. Being able to travel throughout where you are studying is another great outlet and chance to see all of the places you have ever dreamed of seeing. And the fact that the programs encourage students to do that, makes studying abroad that much more of a great opportunity and one that should not be passed up.
Lets sum up the benefits that you can experience while involved in a study abroad program:
• The ability to study anywhere desired
• Build your Résumé
• Build worldwide friendships
• Travel within the country or continent studying in
• Better yourself
As you can see, there are many more reasons to study abroad than just stepping out of your comfort zone for a semester. There are so many places that are yours for the choosing, making your study abroad experience truly one of a kind. It’s a great way to broaden your horizons and open your eyes to the rest of the world, it is a great way to build relationships all over the world and with those relationships get a chance to visit other places throughout the world with the connections that you made. A study abroad program would also give you the chance to travel throughout and around the location you choose with travel opportunities on the weekends, and overall is a great way to simply better yourself as a person.