This is probably going to be a really soppy post. Spending a year of your life on the other side of the world, so far removed from your family, friends and general support network teaches you a thing or two about life – and you get attached (so, so attached) to people, things and places in your new location. It’s an amazing experience and one that I feel has definitely changed and probably shaped me as a person. I’ve definitely matured since last July, I’ve endured a lot, suffered through a lot, achieved a lot, and generally become happier and more confident in myself. Which are great reasons to go and study abroad, if you ask me. (Ok not the suffering part but still.) And they’re not just the only reasons either, there are so, so many, that it was hard to choose, but I’ve compiled a list of 10 of the best reasons why you should study abroad.
10: It looks good on your CV.
Employers are always looking for interesting people to hire, and having something on your resume that not a lot of other people have can maybe push your application into the much more preferable spot of ‘To Be Considered’ than the ‘Pile of Rejection’. I’m not saying studying abroad will definitely guarantee you a job, but it will certainly help, especially if the business or company you want to work for is looking to expand in the country you went abroad to…
9: You can do something new every day.
Ok, so you can do this in your home country too (and you should!!!), but it isn’t nearly as novel or exciting. Abroad though, everything is new and exciting and there is so much to do. So you know, you should go out and do it. The experiences are amazing.
8: Cultural Appreciation
The best way to learn about any culture is to live it. Be completely surrounded by it. You learn the hows and the whys and the ins and the outs so much faster than by reading a book, or talking to people. Plus it helps you appreciate your own culture too – and being culturally rounded helps with the increased employability thing.
7: The Opportunities.
Not only is your host country new and exciting to you, but you are also new and exciting to your host country – and sometimes this opens up a whole new range of opportunities to you that just weren’t available back home. You’re fresh blood and a fresh face to people, and some of these new opportunities could maybe land you a career in the future. Which is super handy.
6: Self Discovery
Personally, I’ve probably learned more about myself in the last year than the seven years before that combined – it’s crazy. But being pulled away from your comfort zone and how you react to and overcome things will teach you more about how you tick than any amount of time at school. Being abroad has shown me that I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was, I’m a lot more capable, and that dreams are always worth fighting for. It’s also given me a lot more courage.
5: Develop new Skill Sets
Like a new language – super useful. (Or building on language knowledge – but the point still stands.) Orh ow to cope in situations that you’d usually get someone close to you to help with. When your support network is only available through skype and a time difference, and they’re not there to hold your hand when the going gets really, really tough… You have to learn how to deal with situations yourself. But the skill sets that you learn on your year abroad will set you up for life. I’ve done apartment searching under time pressure in a different language still dealing with jet lag on the other side of the world – with that behind me, finding accommodation back in the UK where I actually understand everything that’s being said to me, and the furthest I have to travel is maybe an hour or two has been a breeze. It seems hella scary at first but…
4. It makes you Fearless.
Not in the sense that I’m going to go and play in traffic and not think of consequences – more in the sense that I’ve been pulled out of my shell so violently by being abroad and actually having to do things by myself, that the shyness that used to follow me around like the crocodile in the short ‘In-between‘ has taken a trip elsewhere. Hopefully for good. It’s a liberating feeling, the freedom and the confidence that comes with figuring out how things work in a different country. It’s changed my perspective on the way I see things that have to be done. Before going abroad, I used to be very anxious about having to do new things by myself, I was scared of places like the post office, or the bank, (or school), and I used to psych myself out of going and doing things that I needed to do. Now though, now I could quite happily complete an entire list of Important Things and not break too much of a sweat.
3: The People
By far my most favourite reason to study abroad. People are amazing. They’re exciting and brilliant and innovative and wonderful and it took me going to South Korea to realise that. Sure there are people that you’re going to run into who you don’t click with, it’s the same in every country, but being abroad widens your friendship circle by continents. I’ve met some truly amazing people in Korea, friends for life and amazing, useful contacts. Not just Korean natives but other expats, study abroad students, people of note and even a couple of people I’ve had ‘minor’ fangirl moments over. I definitely think the company you keep changes your experience drastically. (I’ve been with both people I didn’t get on with, and people I adore, and the months spent with the people I adore were ridiculous levels of better than those spent with the people I didn’t click with.) International friends are great for learning about new things, and also really quite handy for places to stay if you want to travel – and trust me you will.
2: It’ll Open your Mind
I like to think that even before I travelled to the other side of the world, I was a pretty open minded person. But then experiencing a culture so different (and similar) to my own really made me see that yes, before I was generally a widely accepting person and that I wasn’t really narrow minded, but I didn’t really understand how the world worked. I thought I did, but I’d only experienced one very tiny island of it, and even though England is very multicultural, we’re still very British. Going to Korea showed me other way to think and see things – appreciate things more and get caught up in the little things less. I think in a way, it’s also made me become more selfless, seeing how other countries deal with social issues and how other people react to that
But the number one reason you should study abroad is 1: It’s completely unforgettable.
You’ll be talking about it for years to come. That time you did X in country Y. That time something super cool happened that even though it happened 10 or 15 years ago, you still can’t quite believe it did. All the people that you met (and hopefully will keep in touch with) and all the experiences that you had. They shape you as a person and even though this now sounds super super preachy and sappy and soppy, studying abroad for a year will really change your life.
And hey, if this didn’t help you make up your mind if you’re still undecided, think of the photo opportunities and instagram moments 😉