Studying abroad is such an eye-opening experience. If you are wondering “why should I study abroad?” I've covered all the reasons to study abroad in this article. So whether you want to study abroad to learn new language skills, or for a gap year before entering the job market, I hope I inspire you to take the leap of faith and go for it!
Why Study Abroad?
It’s Good For Solo Travellers
Studying abroad is great for solos. It’s a good way of seeing the world and meeting others at the same time. Having worked and studied abroad, I met some great people both from the countries that I spent time in and also others working and studying there too. You have an instant bond with others doing the same because you’re sharing a similar experience.
What does studying abroad mean? Studying abroad means choosing to study for a period of time in another country whether that's for a semester or a year abroad. You can either do this through a university or find a placement through an organisation.
A study abroad experience or a work placement is ideal for any age. You don’t have to be young and in your twenties to do it. I spent a month in Mongolia on a journalism placement during my thirties and ended up meeting the Turkish Ambassador and a Tibetan Monk! It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. You can read about my Mongolian experience here
A Cultural Experience
One of the main reasons for studying abroad is for the cultural experience. As an international student, you may get placed with a family in your host country (unless you live with other international students). For me, living with a Mongolian family for a month was such an experience. There were times when the language barrier was a challenge and cultural differences were apparent with miscommunication but one thing is for sure, it was definitely an eye-opener.
Learning about the culture was one of the reasons why I studied abroad. During my placement, I learnt to cook with them, went on road trips with them and spent the weekends with their family. They certainly took me under their wing and wanted to know as much about my British culture as I did about theirs.
Meet Other Nationalities and Learn From Them
Another reason to study abroad is to meet and learn from other nationalities. And I’m not just referring to the locals within the country but also the other students or volunteers. If you're with your university or an organisation such as International Internships Seoul, the company arranging your placement should be able to put you in touch with other students.
But if you are the only one there, you can meet new people by joining Facebook groups such as ‘Expats in France’ or ‘Expats in Greece’ for example and meet up with others living there whether permanently or just for a short while. The platform Meet Up is also a great way to meet others (hence the name). You can join others for yoga classes, hiking and other activities that you’re interested in.
See How Other Countries Work
Business etiquette differs all around the world and studying or working abroad provides you with an international experience. Giving you an insight into the business culture of a country, especially seeing the role of women in the workplace. One big difference is the significance of time and professionalism.
Things may be punctual and start on time in your home country but in others, time takes on a different meaning, especially in countries with a more laid-back attitude. Either way, it’s an eye-opener and gives you a better understanding of business around the world which is an advantage if you chose to work abroad or overseas in the future.
Good For Future Employers
Plus an internship is a great way to test the water in a new career. You can see if it’s really for you before entering the job market. International education also looks good on your CV especially if there is a lack of job opportunities at the time that you take your placement. It shows initiative, courage and adaptability too.
You Can Travel On Your Day Off
Especially if you decide to study in Europe. Within just an hour you can be in a brand new country with completely different cultures and different cuisine. Depending on the length of your placement you could even extend your trip and spend an extra week or month at the end to travel around the country. If you have longer you could see neighbouring countries on a longer trip experiencing the region with overland travel.
Broadens Your Pallet
It’ll broaden your pallet. Never tried Thai food? Study in Thailand and it’ll expand your love of cuisine as you get introduced to lemongrass and peanuts in noodle dishes. Trying the food is always a reason for travel but if you’re studying somewhere you can really immerse yourself in the local food and learn how to cook a few dishes too. Exploring local markets is definitely an experience.
A Life-Changing Experience
You never know what opportunities it will lead to and who you will meet. Maybe you’ll meet a best friend, your partner for life or a future travel buddy, or even someone who will get you higher on the global career ladder. They say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know so the more contacts you have the better.
Disadvantages of Studying Abroad
So, why study overseas? There are many advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad and plenty of choices for the perfect place to study overseas. I've covered the benefits of studying abroad and why studying abroad is good above.
One of the disadvantages of studying abroad is feeling lonely and homesick. This article will help you deal with homesickness abroad. If you’re unsure if you will feel lonely, choose somewhere that has a lot of students going there.
There are a variety of destination choices for studying abroad too. I’ve met many travellers who have chosen to study overseas, especially in Dublin, Ireland. Their reasons for studying overseas were to meet other international students and receive an overseas education. But if you want to intern somewhere more exotic, how about a teaching placement in Thailand or Vietnam? You can find programs all over the world.
Choosing the right destination may be a bit overwhelming with so many places out there. Below I've covered the most student-friendly countries to visit.
The Best Countries For International Students
Canada remains one of the most student-friendly countries globally. The reason that Canada is so popular is that each year it attracts thousands of learners from different parts of the world. You’ll find people from different nations who visit Canada. The country is stunning and exploring it will take weeks or even months as the distances are vast.
See stunning lakes and breathtaking mountains and immerse yourself in French Canadian culture. Jasper, Banff and Vancouver Island are some of the most popular places to visit here. Plus there is plenty of adventure too such as kayaking or hiking within Algonquin Park or skiing in the world-renowned Whistler resort. It’s definitely one for the adventurous student.
For those longing for beautiful cities and architecture and the chance to really explore a country, Italy is a good choice. The country has a whopping number of places to visit and might blow your mind with the outstanding beauty of landscapes and historical spots. You can literally spend weeks or months there and always have a new city or area to see.
What makes Italy one of the most student-friendly countries? The hospitality of the locals for starters. Italians are very welcoming with a good sense of humour and the country provides a comfortable environment for everyone including students from different countries.
Not to mention, many Italian universities have foreign students, so you will definitely find others who speak English to explore the country and your chosen city with. Not to mention, Rome, Milan, Florence, Venice, and Verona are among some of the most popular cities in the world (another of the reasons of studying abroad). Plus, where else can you enjoy good pasta and ice cream?
Poland also attracts many students who choose this European country to reside in and study. Mainly because this country has budget-friendly prices for both tuition fees and accommodation. Secondly, nowhere is too far and you can visit many places with your newfound friends.
Warsaw has a lot of history that you can discover within its museums, and Krakow has so much to do from ghostly night tours to day walking tours and visits to salt mines. You can also go skiing in Zakopane in the winter months or climbing and hiking in the summer. There’s even an amusement park here called Energylandia where you can have a respite from studying and have some fun instead. Poland is a great budget choice for students.
The United Kingdom
The British educational system is one of the most well-known in both Europe and the Americas making London a popular choice for international students. The capital is multi-cultural but you don’t have to limit yourself to London as other popular cities here are Manchester and Edinburgh too. Many come here to learn English and master their skills in other courses.
The good news is that there will be no language barrier between you and other students making it easy to meet others here. England offers tons of attractions for young people including summer festivals, concerts with world-famous celebrities, and plenty of other events. There’s good nightlife with traditional British pubs and clubs and plenty of cafes too. And you’re only a short hop away from Europe.
The USA is one of the most popular countries to study in as students come to experience American college life. It is a way to experience a different learning style with a different structure and also an academic year. There are events and societies that you may not see in your home country and overall it will be a fulfilling experience that will enrich your learning experience but university in America is not all ‘Glee’ so be prepared to put yourself out of your comfort zone to gain the most of your time there.
Although these are some of the best student-friendly countries to visit, there are plenty of others too. Choose from the USA, Spain, Switzerland, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Netherlands and Austria amongst others. Find a complete list here
I hope that I've shown you in this article why studying abroad is good. I have met many women on placements in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire where there are other students that you can team up with. Just make sure to choose wisely. Consider why you want to study abroad then research what to expect before you go and you’ll have an experience of a lifetime.
If you are thinking of working abroad or a study abroad program, Global Work & Travel helps you to organise work abroad placements around the world. Choose from working holidays, internships or au pairing. Their placements include all the support you need for a life-changing adventure. Find out more here…