The idea of studying abroad has probably crossed your mind once or twice, especially if are at that stage when you need to make a decision of where to study or whenever you should just go for it and apply for a study abroad semester.
As someone with personal experience in spending a semester abroad with the Erasmus program, I can tell you that it is more than worth it. Studying abroad has given me so much that there is no question wherever I would do it again.
But I know that sometimes just hearing someone speak about how awesome their time studying abroad was is not enough to make a decision. So to make it easier for you to decide, here are the top 7 reasons why you should study abroad for at least one semester!
1. You get to challenge yourself
I don’t think I even have to tell you how much of a challenge it is to embark on a solo adventure and live independently in a foreign country. Everything about it screams going out of the comfort zone.
From a possible language barrier to an absolutely new and unfamiliar culture and environment. Your mind is bound to have a massive overthinking and freak session if you are more of a reserved person. But that’s the magic of study abroad experience.
“You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”Roy T. Bennett.
Instead of being in your own safe bubble, you get to step out of it and push yourself a bit more out of your comfort zone. Experiences such as this help you grow as an individual and ultimately teach you more about yourself than you could ever wish for.
Of course it’s not going to be an easy process but it’s definitely going to be worth it in the end.
2. Experience a new culture
Chances are that by studying abroad you will be immersing yourself into a new and unfamiliar culture that you didn’t know much about prior to your study abroad semester. Think unfamiliar or maybe even a bit strange traditions, different historical background, new celebrations and rituals.
By studying abroad you give yourself a unique opportunity to understand better the life of another culture and its people. It is easy to have a singular view of what it’s like in some countries but you only really experience and start understanding it once you expose yourself to their daily life.
One of the beautiful and rewarding outcomes of study abroad is actually being able to connect with that foreign culture and maybe even see that you aren’t as different as you thought you are. Or even better – what you thought was strange or usual suddenly becomes familiar, dear to you at the end of your stay.
3. Make life-long connections and friends
I’m just going to say this: you will meet lots of people. I know that there is a hidden fear every time someone decides to go to study abroad – that they won’t be able to make any friends and they will be alone.
I can honestly say that it’s not going to happen. You will probably be sharing an apartment with someone, you will have your classmates, you will meet people in main events and you will definitely encounter all types of people while wandering around the streets of your new temporary home.
And it will be wonderful. You will get to interact with people from all around the world because there are probably hundreds of other exchange or international students who will be having the exact same experience as you.
Sometimes you even make friends and meet people with whom you continue to have contact even after you go back to your home country. The only thing you need to do is open up yourself to these opportunities.
I think it’s impossible not to meet or not to interact with anyone while studying abroad, I really do. So if the thought of ending up alone is scaring you away from filling that study abroad application, make a list of all reasons why it is not rational thought and just go for it.
Now, this is one of the most obvious ones. Study abroad gives you the perfect opportunity to travel.
If you are applying for Erasmus or any other study exchange program, they give you monthly scholarships and even reimburse you for your airfare (for bilateral agreements) which is an amazing opportunity for anyone who wants to travel abroad but just doesn’t have the financial means for it.
You get to explore the whole country on your weekends or free days (usually with a student discount as well!) and you could even manage to squeeze in a few short visit to neighbouring countries as well.
Usually, the student board of international and exchange students organize various trips and getaways that are relatively cheap, so there is just no excuse for you why you couldn’t travel more while living abroad.
5. Test your language skills
If you aren’t a native English speaker, then this will be a perfect opportunity for you to put your English skills to test. Heck, you could even test your other foreign language skills like Spanish, French, German or any other depending on which country you are going to.
If anything, you can even test your abilities while trying to communicate with a person who just doesn’t speak any language that you know. This is what I had to learn to do during my study abroad in Budapest, Hungary. Hungarian is not the easiest language to decode, let me tell you that.
Learning a foreign language at school and university or even by yourself at home is cool and all but you can’t really know how well you can use that language if you don’t get to practice it every single day.
6. Career opportunities
Your study abroad record might even impress your future employer. You would be surprised how well-perceived studying abroad might be in the eyes of corporate business and employers.
But that’s not all. Many study abroad students actually end up loving their host country or city so much that they, later on, decide to come back for internships or even relocate themselves to work there too.
The beauty of study abroad is that opens up doors of opportunities for you. Before you might have only considered having a career or working in your home country but after the experience, you might be having other ideas as well.
For example, I’ve never thought that I would ever want to go and live for a while in Hungary prior to my exchange. Not that there is anything wrong with the country, it’s just never was on my radar, you know.
So now that I experienced what it’s like to live in Budapest, I found myself thinking about possibly going back in future and maybe living there for a year or so just because I loved the city and the people there so much.
7. Gain a broader perspective on the world
The biggest take away is just getting a new perspective on things. Once you go and live somewhere else, even if temporarily, you start noticing little things that ultimately challenge your old views and pre-established opinions.
You would be surprised how many exchange students come back home with an entirely different perspective on the world or even their own country. For one, you begin to understand what maybe there is no wrong or right way of doing a certain activity, there is just different.
You also start noticing and getting realizations about your own country by experiencing life abroad. For example, I had to spend a semester abroad in Budapest to realize that people here in Lithuania aren’t always very polite. Or that our political situation is not as horrible as Lithuanians tend to think.
I could go on for hours about how rewarding and insanely amazing studying abroad could be and all there 7 reasons listed here are definitely not all of them, quite far from it actually.
The best thing you can do is just go for it and experience it on your own.
If you are someone who already had their study abroad experience (full international or only a semester long), we would love to hear from you. Who knows, maybe your experience would be that stepping stone for someone who is still unsure if they should apply.