Many college students across the United States have been lucky enough to study in a different country. We’re sure most will agree that it was a life-changing experience—even if they didn’t know just how life-changing it would be at the time! The benefits of studying abroad are wide-ranging. Young adults get the opportunity to learn more about the world around them while gaining valuable life skills. Often, these skills end up being more useful than a lot of what they can learn in the classroom.
Like many things in life, study abroad programs come in all shapes and sizes. They vary from multiple-week courses to semester-long programs. No matter what you choose to do, this is an experience you will remember forever. If you’re on the fence about whether or not it’s something you should do, check out this guide to learn how studying abroad can help you in the long run.
Learning More About the World With Let’s Roam
One of the benefits of studying abroad is getting the opportunity to explore a completely new environment. You don’t want to miss (or forget) a thing, right? We didn’t think so! Check out one of our scavenger hunts to really get to know your new home! Located in cities around the world, our fun hunts help you explore while uncovering culture and history. You’ll be challenged at each local gem with trivia and creative photo ops—can you get all the points? Download our scavenger hunt app, round up your friends, and set out on an adventure today!
The Advantages of Studying Abroad
One of the best things about going overseas is that, for the most part, you get out of it what you put into it.
If you want to practice foreign language skills, it’s easy to head to the local market or bar and chat with native speakers. Want to learn more about the history of a place? Visit the city museum! You can dive into the experience head first even if the program itself isn’t exactly what you thought it would be (which often happens). The simple truth is that you can turn the experience into something so much bigger. Look around you, and reap all the benefits that come with leaving your comfort zone.
Below, you will find a list of advantages associated with studying abroad.
Disclaimer: I’m a huge advocate of international education in all forms. During college, I studied in Salzburg and Leipzig and did short-term internships in Bangkok and Hong Kong. I also completed my master’s degree as a mature student in Prague. The skills and memories I gained from these experiences have helped me immensely in life as I have maneuvered my way through corporate life and my own current full-time digital nomad lifestyle. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to do this at such a young age thanks to everything studying abroad taught me.
You can develop your language skills.
Regardless of whether you’re majoring in a language or simply really looking forward to picking up some basic conversational skills, having foreign language skills can be a tremendous asset throughout your life.
Once you begin picking up skills in one language, you’ll find it much easier to recognize those same words within a similar language family. For example, if you start learning basic Spanish, there’s a chance you’ll be able to read a few words in Italian or Portuguese. This can be extremely helpful in restaurants when you’re trying to decipher a menu.
You also never know when and where those skills will come in handy in the future. If you study French, you can not only travel around France but also West Africa, North Africa, and some of the Indian Ocean islands, such as Mauritius, Seychelles, and Reunion.
Studying abroad also helps you communicate better in your native language. You’ll learn how to talk more clearly and concisely so that non-native speakers can understand. Being able to express yourself can be a huge asset in your professional and personal life, so this skill set is certainly not one that should be taken lightly.
You gain more self-confidence.
If you’ve never traveled very far or been away from home for long, the idea of studying abroad can be daunting. However, you’re actually pretty likely to find yourself settling into your new environment quickly. If you go into it with the right mindset, you can easily meet people and make friends. You’ll start feeling a bit more comfortable making your way around a location and potentially even begin helping your fellow classmates adjust to different aspects of the study abroad experience.
These little accomplishments can have a much bigger impact on you than you realize. People always talk about how empowering travel can be. We really can’t stress enough how true this statement actually is. Traveling shows you just what you are capable of. This can have a tremendous impact on your overall self-confidence. It’s particularly beneficial if you experience any type of anxiety or shyness.
You get out of your comfort zone.
Spending a semester in a new country will at times be exhausting, confusing, exhilarating, and downright scary. You may find yourself eating foods with names you can barely pronounce. The subway maps and train schedules may bewilder you. Worse, it’ll be hard to avoid the embarrassment of making a cultural faux pas. This feeling of being way out of your comfort zone may not seem like a good thing at first. But trust us—it’s just the thing you need as you coast toward adulthood.
When you’re out of your comfort zone, you tend to look at things with a new perspective and point of reference. Your brain starts moving in a million directions as you try to figure out exactly what is going on. You may feel a little uneasy. But this will likely subside as you become better able to process your new situation. By the end of it, you will have picked up a set of information that will help you analyze new situations like this in the future. You will begin to feel comfortable more quickly in new environments and around people. This is an incredible skill to have in the future!
You have the chance to learn about different cultures.
The world is an amazing place, partly thanks to the billions of people we have in it! Different languages, ethnicities, values, and histories make every culture and country unique. For many people, these new cultures are fascinating to learn more about. There’s no better way to do this than by spending a lot of time in one place!
By default, going to school in a foreign country is a great way to learn about another culture. You get a special view into the daily lives of your classmates, teachers, and neighbors.
Your international experience can take you to new places.
When you start to collect international experiences, you begin to think of even more places you can go explore. The confidence you gain helps you travel further and even more off the beaten track. These experiences begin to snowball into bigger and better things until you suddenly look back and can’t believe all of the cool things you’ve been able to do!
You develop a better understanding of the world.
When you’re fully immersed in another culture, inevitably, your understanding of the world will begin to shift. You may have always thought that things were black and white. But you’ll suddenly see the world turning gray.
The experience can be a little disarming as your worldview changes, but this is a very important part of developing a broader global perspective. It’ll be way more interesting than your previous one. Your values may begin to shift as the world starts to look a little different day to day. When you go back to your home country, you’ll look at things with a fresh perspective. You may start wondering why things are the way they are at home and what you can do to make things better.
You can create a wider professional network.
When you study abroad, you not only make new friends from different parts of the world, but you can also make new professional contacts who can come in handy after graduation. For better or worse, these contacts can help you create a wide professional network. You’ll get more help securing interesting internships, employment opportunities, or fellowships with amazing career benefits.
This kind of professional and educational experience can help you stand out amongst your competitors. Future employers will understand the impact that foreign travel has on your communication skills, problem-solving skills, and adaptability. Possessing competency in this way will really help you in your future career opportunities. If you’re successful at one of them, who knows where life can lead you?
You can save a ton of money.
Traveling and saving money generally don’t go hand in hand. However, studying abroad can actually help you build up your bank balance. Many countries offer student visas that allow you to work a certain amount of hours per week. The money you earn goes toward paying for your day-to-day living expenses. Considering that many places in the world have a much lower cost of living than the United States, this may mean that you get out of paying the much higher rents in the US.
The savings get even better when you’re looking at graduate schools. Many countries in Europe offer free education to both local and international students. You simply need to pay an administrative fee, which is roughly $300 per semester. This means that you could get a full master’s degree for what you would pay for a couple of credit hours in the US.
You could make lifelong friends.
Yes, studying with other international students gives you the chance to learn more about other countries. But you also have the chance to make some lifelong friends. The type of bonding you do when you’re traveling in a foreign country or studying internationally is very different than what you would have at home. When you’re in different countries struggling with new languages together, each person can show what skills and aptitudes they bring to the table. You’re likely to find yourself relying on another person more and sooner than normal. This makes the bonds stronger than they would have been if you had met in your home country.
If you don’t believe me, just remember that I’m still friends with someone I shared a room with in Salzburg close to 20 years ago! We not only maneuvered our way around Germany, Austria, Italy, and Hungary together, but we also maneuvered our way through marriages, careers, and adulthood. And, this was long before the days social media made it easy to keep in touch!
You get to try new cuisines straight from the source.
Many of us probably already know nothing quite compares with Pad Thai made fresh from a street cart in Bangkok or a Margherita pizza coming out of the oven in Rome. But it’s hard to imagine just how incredibly good it is when you’re eating foods in their countries of origin until you do it. When you take the plunge, don’t miss the chance to try foods you’ve never even heard of before. If you really love the cuisine, you can even sign up for cooking classes and take those new skills back home with you!
Being able to try cuisines in their “birthplace” also goes much deeper than the food simply tasting amazing. Food can also tell you about the history of a place, particularly if it was once a colony of another country or if it saw big waves of immigration from around the world. This is often showcased in the ingredients used and the way food is prepared. While that may not sound super interesting, I promise it’s really cool!
Your host family can become like a second family to you.
Depending on their program, many college students have the option of living with a host family. Many of these families have lived abroad themselves and enjoy traveling. Host families open their homes to young adults who are looking for a way to expand their horizons, and they genuinely want to help you feel comfortable in your new environment. This sounds like a pretty great setup when you’re just finding your feet in your host country, doesn’t it?
Sometimes, before you know it, these host families can soon begin to feel like a second set of parents and siblings. Not only do you get an added element of safety, but they can help soothe your anxiety and share your frustrations. They can teach you a lot about the country’s way of life, culture, beliefs, and values. This is a completely different experience than living in a dorm or apartment with other college students. You will have the opportunity to meet people you wouldn’t have had the chance to meet otherwise. You may not get into crazy shenanigans or have late-night pub stories to tell, but you’ll have emotional support and other rich, formative experiences you won’t forget!
It’s amazing for personal growth.
We can’t emphasize enough how much travel can help you grow. You learn new skills you would probably never have developed otherwise. You also gain confidence in yourself and where you see your life going. While we admit you don’t necessarily need to spend a semester in Europe or attend a summer program in Asia to achieve this type of personal growth, it almost seems like traveling abroad makes the process much faster.
It truly is a life-changing experience.
I know, I know—I’ve said this before. But it really IS a life-changing experience. When you look back at this time period, you’ll be able to see the impact it had on you in virtually every aspect of life. While this seems like a pretty bold statement, it’s definitely true.
For example, I studied abroad in Salzburg. Besides my university town, this was the first place I lived where I could walk or take a bus everywhere. As the icing on the cake, I could walk to the train station and go to cities like Munich, Prague, Budapest, and beyond. I felt like I had struck gold and traveled somewhere new every weekend. My confidence skyrocketed as my problem-solving skills increased. I was no longer a scared girl from rural Ohio. Instead, I was a bold 19-year-old woman who was ready to take on the world with nothing more than my backpack and a passport!
When I got back to my tiny college town, I felt trapped. It was like my wings were clipped. I immediately knew I wanted a different life than what was “normal.” I wanted to explore the world and remove as many of the barriers as I could. I made decisions based on this. Some were good, some were bad, but I learned from every single one of them. Luckily, I was able to build a life and career that allows me to travel full-time. I likely never would have done this if studying abroad didn’t give me a taste of the different types of lifestyles out there.
So, Are You Ready to Roam?
Well, there you have it! Maybe we’ve sold you on it, maybe not. But we hope this list of the biggest benefits of studying abroad has at least inspired you to head over to your university’s study abroad office to see what your options are! Some opportunities only come around once in a great while. If you want to shake things up, now is the time. Safe travels!
If you’d like to learn more about traveling both in the US and abroad, make sure to head over to the Let’s Roam Explorer blog. Here, you’ll find hundreds of articles covering everything from must-see destinations to general travel tips. All our blog articles are written by our very own team of in-house travel experts who have been around the world and back, so they’re packed full of interesting tips and tricks that will make planning your next adventure a breeze!
Frequently Asked Questions
The biggest benefits of studying abroad are the lifelong skills you gain. Problem-solving skills, communication skills, and increased confidence are just a few of the benefits!
People benefit from studying abroad in many different ways! It can help them professionally, academically, and in terms of personal development. But those are just a few of the benefits of studying abroad.
Studying abroad is a great idea, and there are many advantages to doing it. You can improve your language skills, meet new people, try new food, and even save money while living in a new country!
One of the biggest ways that studying abroad helps you grow is by helping you develop confidence and problem-solving skills. This will benefit you in every single aspect of your life in the future.
The costs of studying abroad can vary widely. Sometimes, it’s tied to your school tuition. Others may need to pay out of pocket for it. You’ll need to shop around to find a program that works for you!