5 Ways Studying Abroad Can Help Your Career
We’ve all lusted after the glossy covers of travel brochures, admired the gorgeous posters in travel agency windows, and scrolled through photo after photo of far off places while browsing online. Unfortunately, travel costs money and if you’re a penniless university student going abroad can seem far out of reach. Studying abroad is a great alternative to simply traveling to the other side of the globe and, even better, you can find plenty of scholarships to fund an overseas adventure! While studying in Taiwan, Switzerland, or Argentina can offer a wealth of learning opportunities, it also provides you with experience that will impact your professional life once your university days are behind you. Not sure if studying abroad is really worth the investment? Check out these 5 ways taking your studies to another part of the world can help you later on in your career:
1. Language experience
You can sit in a classroom at your home university and conjugate verbs all you want, but it will never be a replacement for the real life language experience you’ll gain while studying overseas. I’m not saying classes at a university abroad are necessarily any better, but the time you spend outside the classroom using the target language will increase tenfold. It’s no secret that being bilingual can help your career, and a year, or even a semester, abroad will give your language skills a serious boost. Sometimes the one thing that can put you ahead of your peers linguistically is being immersed in an environment where you’re forced to speak a foreign language all day, every day.
2. Management experience
One of the problems many freshmen face when entering university is struggling to manage time. Studying abroad is a great way to learn not only how to effectively allot your time, but to juggle multiple tasks successfully. Living overseas for the first time is a study in overwhelming situations. You’ll be learning how to navigate a new city, adjust to a different culture, and function with the limits of a language you are only just picking up. It’s sink or swim, folks, but the great thing about studying abroad is that you tend to have more support to help you get it right. Look at this way: studying abroad is the parachute to your freefall of living overseas. It helps you ease into the process so that when you move to another country for a job post-university you’ll be able to manage life and work with much more ease.
3. Life experience
Studying abroad can offer you a type of life experience you’ll never find at home. You learn how to be independent and refine your decision making skills. Nothing teaches you to think on your feet quite like spending several months in a new country. Living abroad as a student with limited funds will force you to evaluate each situation and determine the financial costs, time constraints, and experience gained. Without even realizing it, you’ll become a pro at making decisions that maximize gain with minimum risk. This type of life experience can’t be taught in a classroom, it has to be learned out in the big, wide world!
Want to check your skill level before heading overseas for study? Take a free placement test to see how your level measures up!
4. Interest experience
This may seem like a strange thing to say, but studying abroad can be an amazing way to discover new interests and skills. It’s important to have a good work-life balance and studying overseas is an excellent gateway to uncovering new hobbies you never thought you’d enjoy. Try your hand at kickboxing while visiting Thailand, or experiment with your fledgling cooking skills while living in Italy. Putting yourself out there and being fearless about trying new things is all a part of the study abroad experience and will come more naturally when you make the decision to work overseas later on.
5. Job experience
Heading overseas for a semester of study can open your mind in ways you never imagined. Suddenly, taking a job in Oman after graduating won’t seem so scary after spending a semester in Lebanon. You’ll be much more willing to consider jobs that don’t necessarily fall within your scope of experience. After all, travel makes you a quick learner and picking up new skills on the job isn’t nearly as daunting once you’ve been to a foreign country or two. If you take on an odd job or two during your study abroad time, whether it be bartending or teaching English, you’ll also pick up invaluable skills that you can apply to the post-university job hunt.
Did you study abroad? How do you feel it helped you career-wise? What lessons did you learn that you applied to living overseas later? Share your experiences with us!