Studying abroad and being immersed in a completely foreign culture has changed the way I see the world. I am more open to trying new things, I feel confident in unknown situations, I have seen incredible places, and much more. All of my experiences abroad will help me in life after graduating. I have seven reasons why you should study abroad and how it will be the best decision you ever make!
1. Learn a language. I’m sure you have heard it before-that the best way to learn a language is to be immersed in the culture. But it is 100% true! Just walking through the grocery store, ordering at a café, or talking to people on the bus is tremendously improving my language skills. Having multiple languages will also look great on a resume and give you an edge over other candidates.
2. Travel. No matter what continent you study on, you will be able to travel around and see places and meet people that you would never normally experience. Europe has cheap flights and discounted train tickets for students making it simple to take off on a couple weekends and discover and learn from your surroundings. CEA even provides excursions and trips to places around the area you live.
3. Learn about a new culture. Cultural surface behaviors such as appearances, body language, eating habits, and celebrations are easy to pick up on. But when you are fully immersed in a culture for a period of time you get to know how the people in this culture perceive the world, what they believe, and their values that influence their life. You will gain knowledge of where people from other cultures are coming from, learn to communicate cross-culturally, and become more culturally aware.
4. Make worldwide friends and connections. Studying abroad this semester, I have meet people from all over Europe as well as all over the world. Being abroad is the perfect opportunity to network, meet new people, and if you are lucky- make a lifelong friend.
5. Discover yourself. Most people who spend a semester studying abroad return home with new outlooks of themselves and their culture. Studying abroad often makes you open your eyes and reevaluate your own beliefs and values. You may feel more strongly and passionately about your beliefs, or you may choose to accept new ways of thinking.
6. Learn outside the classroom. It can be scary finding yourself in a completely different cultural context, but it can also be exhilarating. You will find yourself overcoming obstacles, interpreting and solving problems, and discovering strengths and skills you never knew you had. You will be confronted with unfamiliar situations and learn to effectively handle and adjust.
7. Improve your chances for employment. Even with our world becoming more globalized, only about four percent of U.S. college students study abroad. By having this experience you set yourself apart from other applicants and show employers that you are independent, motivated, and able to handle different situations and challenges.
The experiences you have abroad will be with you and help you throughout your life and career.
Chelsea Heil is the Spring 2013 CEA MOJO in the French Riviera
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