The Perks of Studying Abroad – by Ségolène Guitton

Thinking of studying abroad, but not quite sure if you are ready to take that step forward? If you ask people who have studied abroad most of them will tell you it is a life-changing experience and that if anyone has the opportunity to do so, they should go for it. So for those who are still undecided here are my top reasons as to why you should study abroad and what you can get out of it:

1. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” Neal D. Walsch – That’s right, you will never know what life really has to offer if you don’t step out of your comfort zone and yes, I know how nice and comfy one’s comfort zone can be: it’s safe, you know everybody and where everything is but there is also very little space for experience and by the time you realise that an opportunity like this may not come again.

2. Studying abroad is the best and most effective way to learn a language – You are probably thinking ‘new country, new language’, well instead thinking of it as a problem, think of that language barrier as a positive aspect of your study abroad program ; that’s right! things may be a little hard when you first get there but trust me it will all be worth it when you are able to write down on your CV that you can speak a language other than English and you are able talk your way out of a bad situation because you took the time to learn your hosting county’s language. Trust me, learning a language is hard but by being immersed in a country where that particular language is spoken will make so much difference: you will be exposed to the language all the time, and you will unknowingly pick up few expressions right there and then, this will expand your vocab and by the end of your program, you will be surprised at how much you have actually learned just by being in a country where the language you are studying is spoken.

3. Studying abroad gives you the opportunity to travel further than you thought – okay so you have decided to go study abroad for a semester in Rome, Italy well guess what? Rome and Italy are not the only city and country you will have the opportunity to visit. Italy is a neighbour to France, Switzerland and so many more countries that even though they may sound far away, they are so much closer than you think. Have you been dreaming of that view of Paris from the Eiffel tower or that trip to London? Well now you have the opportunity to experience it for real.

4. Expand your social network – let’s say that in a couple of years you’ve decided that you want to move across the world and start a new life somewhere new, well, at that specific time you will be glad that you studied abroad and made friends from all over the world. Study abroad programs are available all around the globe, that means that the people taking part in your destination’s study abroad programs won’t all be from the same country you will therefore meet people from each four corners of the world and as you live together for the next couple of months, you might end up making friendships that will last a lifetime. These friendships will be useful in the future if you ever needed advice while traveling or help if you end up in a foreign country. For example, as you travel through a new city you might be glad to have a friend from that specific city who can tell you all the great spots around the city that little to no tourist would know.

5. Experience a new education system – studying abroad will give you the opportunity to experience a new education system: it will give you a break from your current academic routine and it will also give you the opportunity to take courses that may not have been offered at your home campus.

6. Study abroad can enhance future employment opportunities – that’s right, when comes the time for you to actually find a job you will be glad that you took part in a study abroad program. Why? Because employers think of the people who have actually taken the step forward to studying in a foreign country to be self-motivated, independent and more able to cope with challenges thus setting you apart from the rest.

7. Ready, Set, Grow – traveling makes you grow as a person, in the sense that you learn to be on your own and more importantly to think on your own. You develop skills that will prove useful both in your personal life and your future career – while traveling abroad you will be exposed to the little challenges of your life that even though may be little, you will learn a great deal from. One thing many people learn while traveling abroad is  learning to navigate yourself, I know it may seem silly but you have no idea how many people in the world who do not know how to use a map. Yes, as of today we are able to access maps with GPS locators which you only have access to with the help of the internet, but using the internet on your phone while traveling abroad is pretty pricey so you will be bound to use an actual map at some point!

8. Change your view of the world – the world as you see it now in the comfort of your cozy little life is so different once you see all the things it has to offer you – by taking a study abroad program you experience the world outside of the classroom: no picture or story will ever amount to the feeling you get standing on top of the Eiffel tower or on the great wall of China. The only way you are going to experience the world the way it is is by actually being there in the moment, seeing it, touching it, experiencing it and taking it all in.

That being said, get out there and experience the world!

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