Studying for Yourself

At its simplest, Study Abroad students are often in search of a refreshing change of scene. Most students complete their entire education within one country. To study in another country offers you something more – a break from established routine and the challenge of coping with a different environment, not to mention a different language or accent. Many students who have studied abroad see the experience, however beneficial academically or vocationally, principally in terms of personal fulfillment. They feel it brings out new aspects of their personality. They often say that, after studying abroad, they feel more independent or more mature, more confident, more adaptable, more tolerant and more aware of their identity. Provided they haven’t been too much in the sun, there is every reason to take their claims seriously.

New Perspective and Look

Studying abroad also involves learning to see yourself as others see you. By appreciating the differences between one country and another, you come gradually to see your own country in a new light. You begin to realise how much you owe to your own cultural upbringing. This in turn gives you a different perspective on your own education system and enables you to see its strengths and weaknesses more clearly. This can be a revelation and it can be challenging, too.

Studying for fun and profit

When students meet to discuss their experiences of having studied abroad the conversation usually becomes lively and loud enough to disturb the neighbors. What is most keenly remembered is the sense of fun. Whereas study at home can seem earnest and sombre, the added need abroad to overcome new challenges and confront another culture can make it all seem – certainly in retrospect – distinctly entertaining and amusing. As the reminiscences pour forth, even scrapes and misadventures are recounted with fondness and humor.

If this is in part nostalgia, it gains something from the reality of returning home. In today’s mass higher education environment, the student who has studied abroad stands out as someone different, someone willing to try something unusual, to confront the unfamiliar, to take more of a risk. It’s a difference that communicates itself to everyone else, to your friends, fellow students, academic staff. It makes you more interesting to all of them (however loath they are to admit it) and marks you out as someone who can survive away from the herd.