Ask several different people what the highlight of their college education was, and the most common answer that you will probably find is “studying abroad”. Going to school, and living in a different country gives you an experience completely unlike any other. The concept of studying abroad is not a novel thing in our culture; universities and high schools have participated in foreign exchange programs for several decades. Unfortunately, despite its prevalence, many students never attempt to take advantage of these opportunities. Traveling is a an often overlooked educational experience that every student should attempt.
Visiting a foreign country and immersing in its culture for even a few days will teach you things that are difficult to learn by themselves. If you truly want to get the most out of your education in the next few years, invest in yourself and travel abroad. The experience will be memorable, and you will never regret the choice.
Experiencing a different culture can give you a different perspective on life. This one sounds cliché, but it is actually true. From meeting new people and witnessing some of their traditions and values, you will see something completely different from your everyday life. What is normal in America may be non-existent abroad, and you will learn why.
Traveling abroad will open your mind. Building upon the point stated before, traveling will give you new perspectives on life and will tear down some of the stereotypes built by years of conditioning in suburbia.
Having to get around without knowing the social norms and language will force you to learn. This doesn’t just apply to language-learning; having to use pseudo-sign-language and broken phrases to communicate with a waiter will make you appreciate the universality of human body language and the common bonds holding different cultures together. This struggle will also teach you something about being independent. Even if you can’t commit to studying a whole a semester abroad but want to just visit Mexico for a week, these types of interactions will greatly benefit your skill of resourcefulness.
Students with some sort of bicultural experience get better grades. The exposure of different cultures lets you expand and open up your mind, which can lead to new ways of thinking about things. As absurd as this sounds, this actually correlates to academic reasoning. Students who travel are more creative thinkers, which is a skill that pays off greatly later on in life.
There is so much to gain when you study abroad. I feel that every student who is lucky enough to be given this opportunity should take it!
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