As a college student, have you considered studying abroad? You might have thought that it wasn’t right for you for any number of reasons, but it’s worth reconsidering. A study abroad can be not just a great addition to your resume but a life-changing experience that builds your independence, resilience, and knowledge of the world and of people. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its challenges, but they are all things that you can overcome.
Language differences are often the first thing that comes to mind when people think about studying abroad. It’s worth noting that classes and programs aimed at international students are usually conducted in English. However, even when instruction is in English, you may feel daunted by the thought of getting by in a place where you aren’t fluent. You can always just opt to study in an English-speaking country.
Of course, if you want to immerse yourself entirely in another language, including in your classes, that may be an option as well. It can be exhausting to spend much of your day trying to converse in a second language, but it’s also a rich and rewarding experience that will greatly enhance your skills in that language.
Take advantage of all the tools at your disposal there are language learning apps you can download to have on hand, but you also have an entire educational system at your disposal. Your professors and classmates might be able to help you get through the language barrier easier than you think. All you must do is ask.
Cost is the next barrier for many. However, you can use student loans to study abroad, and the cost might be comparable. Your school may even have an agreement with a foreign university that allows you to pay home tuition. It is a good idea to have a backup source of funding, however.
If you’re ready to manage your own budget, and you should be if you’re going to live abroad, this would be a good time to consider getting a credit card. There are several credit cards for students, but you should do your research to make sure that you get one that’s right for you.
Culture shock is the word for what happens as you encounter and adapt to a new culture. Even if you aren’t familiar with the phrase, you may have anticipated it if you feel anxious when you think about how you’ll fit in and get by in a place where so many things are different. Culture shock can throw you into a circle of sadness and bring up difficult emotions, including anger, anxiety, and a strong sense of homesickness. It’s not all bad news, though.
These emotions will come and go, but there are also many wonderful experiences, and as you get used to your new environment, you will gradually find it less disorienting. It’s exhilarating the first time you realize that something you initially found strange and confusing is second nature to you now. In fact, it’s likely you’ll experience some form of reverse culture shock to a certain degree when you go back home.
One thing you shouldn’t do in response to this phenomenon is flee to the safety of other students from your home country. Of course, you’ll make friends with other Americans, and sometimes, you just need the comfort of hanging out with them. But to get the most out of your experience and, ultimately, to adjust, you need to throw yourself into more uncomfortable and unfamiliar situations in your host country as well.
There are a number of benefits to studying abroad. You’ll become a better problem-solver and more self-reliant. You’ll learn to think on your feet. You may improve your skills in another language, and you’ll become more culturally and globally aware. All of these are excellent qualities to take into any career that you decide to pursue, and they are also skills that will serve you well for the rest of your life as well.
You might even decide to pursue a career that allows you to continue living abroad. This could involve working for a global company with worldwide branches, joining the foreign service, or working in education or development, among other possibilities.