May 23rd, 2012

College Adventures: The Benefits of Studying Abroad

What are the benefits of studying abroad? When you’re in college, they are numerous.

And this is aside from the fact that —  hello! – you’ll be studying abroad. As in another country! Far from home. Experiencing new cultures and new ways of doing things. Meeting new people. Learning how to get along in a different culture, and so on.

Let us count just a few of the other benefits of studying abroad, according to Mary M. Dwyer, Ph.D., the president of the International Education of Students (IES) in an article published in April 2003 in Transitions Abroad Magazine.

  1. Your self-confidence more than likely will grow considerably. After all, it’s not “easy” to move to a distant country and live and study (and possibly work) in a place not your own. In addition, successfully completing your study program is no mean feat and will result in an increase in your self-confidence.
  2. You’ll grow up. As in mature. Why? Well, as mentioned above, it’s not easy to move to a distant country, etc.  The childish need not apply. Enough said.
  3. Your world view will change and this change more than likely will last you a lifetime. Clichés abound about what the French, the Italians, the Chinese are like. Live in France, Italy or China for even just a semester and you’re sure to realize that those who live in another country are more like you than different.
  4. Don’t be surprised if studying for even just one semester abroad leads to a career working abroad. Many students reported to Dr. Dwyer that their post-college careers in at least some small aspect included either graduate study abroad and/or work in a foreign country.
  5. Your study skills will improve. There’s so much to do, see, experience, and enjoy while studying abroad; your study skills/time management skills will have to improve, otherwise you’ll risk failing the program.
  6. Naturally, your foreign language skills will improve by leaps and bounds. Sure, you could opt for the “easy” study abroad experience and head to Britain. Instead, for perhaps the most worthwhile experience, aim to study in a country where you will be exposed to another language and, in fact, may have to take classes in another language.
  7. Don’t be surprised if your study abroad experience leads to an entirely different career path. Dr. Dwyer reports that 62 percent of students she surveyed between 1950 and 1999 said that the experience influenced the students’ future decisions regarding their careers.
  8. You’ll make friends that will last a lifetime. These friends will be those from the U.S. as well as in the country in which you study.  Many of the students Dr. Dwyer surveyed reported that they stayed in touch with friends regularly over the decades, often visiting each other in their respective home countries. Dr. Dwyer also noted that studying abroad provides long-lasting and life-enhancing benefits to such a degree that all students should examine the option.

*If you’d like to read the article in its entirety, visit and search back issues of the magazine for the April 2003 issue.

Jean Henshaw began offering content writing and other marketing communications/ editorial services in 2008 after years of a successful journalism and public relations career. Her articles have appeared in Internet World, the San Diego Union, the Des Moines Register and many others. She is a senior writer with Pimsleur Approach, leading retailers of language learning courses including Speak Brazilian Portuguese and Speak Japanese.

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