What do you do if your child comes home from college with a study abroad brochure in hand, gushing about wanting to live in another country? Before writing it off as childish whim, take this opportunity to discover just how rewarding and beneficial studying abroad can be. Your child may actually be doing something very mature, and that foreign experience could enhance his or her life academically, socially, culturally, personally and professionally.
Studying Abroad Yields Academic Benefits
Students who study abroad continue to earn credits towards their degree while overseas. They may even get the opportunity to take a class that is not offered at their home campus, one that is wholly unique to that country, and is perhaps more rewarding than anything they would have otherwise experienced. Plus, while they are overseas, students discover learning in a new way, as the higher education systems of other countries differ greatly from those of the United States, meaning they get a more well-rounded education that better prepares them for this increasingly global world.
Academic inspiration is known to set in. The experiences students have while studying abroad often ignites their interest in academic pursuits, and they return home with an added vigor toward their coursework. Not only does studying abroad break the monotony of regular university, it also equips your student with the real-life, hands-on skills that no classroom can match. Plus, it gives you a great opportunity to travel overseas and visit.
Additionally, learning in a classroom in which the subject is taught in a foreign language is an indispensable benefit for students who wish to master that particular language, so any foreign language majors should be practically required to study in a country where that language is spoken. It is well-known that students gain foreign language proficiency best when in an environment where the language must be used. It even worked for Bart Simpson.
Studying Abroad Provides Social and Cultural Benefits
When your child studies abroad, he or she will make lifetime friendships with fellow American classmates as well as with native students. The memories and friendships made could last forever, and could open your child up to a global network of job prospects and connections. If your student leaves your house shy, it is entirely plausible that he or she will return from studying abroad much less so. Living and studying overseas fosters a sense of teamwork in students, as the group they travel with gets tighter as they experience the challenges of a multicultural situation together. And on the other end, students also learn to depend on themselves, as well as how to ask questions and be proactive, and provide and solicit help.
The cultural benefits of studying abroad are more obvious. Spending extended time in a foreign country tends to open students' eyes wider when they look at the world. They may be more reflective about their own culture and what that culture has instilled in them. Students are likely to have increased respect for other cultures and appreciate the differences between cultures, and this openness to different approaches makes them better problem solvers and team players.
Studying Abroad Produces Personal Benefits
Personal benefits of studying abroad abound. Students increase their self-confidence when they live and study in a foreign country. They also increase their independence and maturity. In this ever-changing world it is important to have the ability to adapt, an ability that studying abroad can give your child.
Students often return home from studying abroad ready to change the world, which is important, as they will be the future leaders of this country. The self-reliance and global sensitivity students gain from studying abroad can help them in their personal and professional pursuits.
Travel is always an enriching experience, one that not everybody seizes or has the opportunity to embark on. Your student will not only travel to a destination country, but will gain the opportunity to set out on some interesting side trips during the time overseas. The adventure and life experience that studying abroad will afford your student are priceless.
Studying Abroad Enables Professional Benefits
Studying abroad can help your child gain a competitive edge when it comes time to start a career. Employers often seek employees with the ability to speak other languages or understand other cultures. Studying abroad is imperative for students who wish to enter international business, and employers look for the skills study abroad students have, such as communication, analytical abilities, teamwork and flexibility. Not to mention that almost everyone who applies for a job these days has a college education. In order to stand out, your child needs to offer something different, and studying abroad achieves that.
It cannot be stated enough that ours is a very global economy, and employers and the government alike hold study abroad experiences in high esteem. According to U.S. Senate Resolution 308, 2006 was the "Year of Study Abroad." The U.S. Senate put forth Resolution 308, outlining 13 reasons why students should study abroad. The Senate's view is that the nation needs more students studying abroad in order for our country to compete in the global economy. Thus, the benefits of studying abroad have even become national issues.
So if your child brings home some study abroad brochures, sit down and review them before forming an opinion. It may just help your child become a better student, a better job prospect and a better human being.