(BPT) - Many students study abroad each year for only a few months, or even weeks. But the experiences and lessons learned go on to impact them well past that brief time, and the benefits of their travels don’t stop once they return home. Studying abroad isn’t just a chance to explore foreign cities, but a time to grow, learn and expand your connections globally.
Here are a few ways a study abroad experience can change your life:
* It can increase your employability.
Employers are in tune with the benefits of studying abroad, research by Global HR News found. About 75 percent cited study abroad as important when evaluating the resume of a job candidate for an entry-level position.
When Victoria Koutris returned from her semester studying abroad in Sydney, where she interned with the Sydney Rabbitohs Rugby Club, she scored an internship with the Boston Bruins followed by another with IMG. Now graduated from University of Massachusetts Amherst, she is an assistant account executive at the sports marketing and media agency, Optimum Sports, in New York City.
*It can open up opportunities to work abroad.
Thinking about working abroad after college? The same survey found that 80 percent of human resources executives think study abroad is important when considering a candidate for an overseas job placement.
“I enjoyed my time abroad so much that I decided to travel some more and I am now a certified English-as-a-foreign-language teacher in Chiang Mai, Thailand,” says Eli Molin, who spent a semester in Florence, Italy. Auburn University graduate, Carlos Olivieri, completed an internship with the Great Wall Club while he studied abroad in Beijing. The same company has since hired him as a full-time international marketing manager.
* It just might change your worldview.
One of the most valuable lessons one can learn from studying abroad is that there’s a whole world to explore beyond the United States. Once you’ve seen it and lived in it, the rest of the world becomes a lot more tangible. The vast contrasts between home and your study abroad city will strike you as you take in the streets filled with diversity, the air with hundreds of different languages and the walls with art and posters advertising events like Diwali and celebrations of Australia Day.
“The study abroad experience opened up an entirely new world to me, literally, and showed me that there is so much more to life beyond my small town,” says Gareth Leonard, a study abroad alum from SUNY Fredonia in Fredonia, Calif., who spent a semester in London. “Since then, I have lived in Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Guatemala, building relationships, learning Spanish, and adapting to my surroundings.”
* It allows you to explore your individuality and personal development.
Away from the constraints and expectations of home, you’re free not only to explore the world around you but also yourself.
Missouri School of Journalism student Allison Goldberg studied in London. She now knows she can travel even with a serious disease. “Other than having less space in my carry-on bag, my diabetes has not in any way, shape, or form hindered my experience abroad,” Goldberg says.
* Studying abroad can also improve your storytelling abilities.
You’ll have more than enough raw material to work with and being able to illustrate your point with a real life story makes for interesting conversation, and also better answers during an interview. Some students go on to write blogs about their experiences abroad, which is a great way to reflect and also to share your writing skills with the world.
* It expands your global network.
Even if you don’t return to live or work there, the city where you studied abroad will always feel like a home away from home. Once your experience is over, keeping in touch with friends you make on the other side of the world couldn’t be easier thanks to social media. You’ll bump into plenty of others looking to expand their own global networks and that includes locals, people who work abroad, intern abroad, or are simply travelling through. These new connections can also increase your opportunities to travel to new areas you otherwise might not have considered venturing to. It’s also a lot of fun to invite your international friends to stay with you in your hometown so they can see where you live.
If you’re thinking about studying abroad, there’s no better time than now. Learn more at www.capa.org/faqs.