Something happens to us when we set foot in another country. We’re excited but also restless and scared. How all these emotions get clogged into our system all at once is nothing short of extraordinary. Travel does magical things to people. No one gets to see a city or country for the first time and goes home the same person.
This fondness for traveling makes the idea of studying abroad sexy and romantic. You get the best education and you get to see the world as a consequence. How awesome is that? But foreign students all over the world know more than just the vanity. They go for the real benefits of studying abroad, the ones that change your life and how you live it.
The number of students who study abroad is on the rise. In 2013, over 4.1 million students packed their bags, kissed their mom goodbye, and went abroad to study. The UNESCO Institute for Statistics further stated that the number represents 1.8% or nearly two out of every 100 college students globally.
When these students finish their degrees, go home and join the workforce, they offer something unique to the table. Something you can’t find in books. They bring with them a significant change with their way of life.
Do you want to find out what it is like to study abroad? And more importantly, would you like to know how studying abroad can change your life? Here are the positive lifestyle changes that you could expect.
You become more responsible
By this time, you probably already have a few tales about adulthood. You look after yourself, have a job, and pay some bills. Studying abroad will introduce you to more “chores of adulthood.” One of the questions you should ask yourself before studying abroad is how much you trust yourself to make decisions. When you are abroad, you will make a lot of decisions—where to eat, what turn to take, what classes to enroll in, which people to talk to, etc. What happens to you is your responsibility.
You also become more responsible and aware of your personal finances. Suddenly, you earn a degree in budgeting and become a master at saving. When you go home, you will probably bring this newfound sense of responsibility with you. You take control of your life and you take responsibility of the consequences of your actions.
You develop problem solving skills
Problem-solving skills are very important for people studying abroad. Problems will arise, that’s for sure—whether it is about endless school requirements or stubborn stain in your pants. One of the benefits of studying abroad is improving your problem-solving strategies. You strategize to get yourself out of an unpleasant situation instead of complaining or drowning yourself in despair.
The next time you end up in a problematic situation, at work or at home, you don’t shirk and back down. You gather yourself together and figure out a way to turn the odds in your favor.
You’re better with people
No, you can’t do it alone. And you know what else? You don’t have to. There are many reasons why studying abroad will change your life and one of them is diversity. You learn to appreciate people of different color, race and religion. There may be some peculiarities that you will find completely out of your league, but accept them nonetheless. Tolerance is not so hard to get by, after all. Acceptance is a sign of maturity and understanding diversity will be your ticket.
A study by the American Institute for Foreign Study found that 80% of foreign students reported that studying abroad allowed them to adapt better to diverse work environments. You are less likely to have a problem with working with a person of different religion or frames of reference. You will notice a change in your lifestyle as far as dealing with people is concerned: you are more comfortable, calm and significantly happier to be around people.
You welcome a new culture
Learning a new language and appreciating different cultures are among the benefits of studying abroad. By being friends with native speakers and interacting with locals, you reach a certain fluency in a new language. You realize that determination trumps whatever kind of barrier there is, in this case language.
You also open your mind to different cultures. As a foreign student, you will be thrown into a classroom of different mentalities and principles. A sense of shock is understandable, but without even extra effort, you will realize that getting along with people with varied backgrounds isn’t that hard at all. After you have finished your degree, you are expected to have an easier time with different types of people at work or in your own neighborhood. You will be surprised that you have it in you to know about what makes people tick.
You become more confident
A research by the University of Maryland found that 96% of graduates of study abroad programs claimed an increase in self-confidence. Foreign students step out of their comfort zones and into a new world where they have to fend for themselves, interact with different people, embrace a new culture, and solve varying problems. Over time, they increase their confidence as they set goals and vow to conquer all challenges.
Studying abroad lets you know yourself a whole lot better. In most cases, you get to meet the better, stronger version of yourself. As you gain new perspectives, you start to think big. There’s the beauty in studying abroad: after you have decided to jump in, you are compelled to see the entire adventure through. And the good thing is that you know you are going to come out better and stronger. “Ifs” and “buts” no longer worry you because you are now more confident to make things happen.
The benefits of studying abroad go beyond the degree and the recognition. It goes beyond the promotion and greater opportunities waiting for you when you come back home. Studying abroad will change your life in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. The benefits don’t come in packages that you can hold in your hand but in the little surprises of knowing that you can take them on thanks to the lessons you gained from studying far away from home.