1. Experience a new culture:
Studying abroad is one of the best ways I can think of to immerse yourself in a new culture, whether it be living with a local family, trying local cuisine or celebrating national holidays. When studying abroad, there is no shortage of cultural exchange opportunities! Studying abroad gave me a love for for a new unique culture, while deepening my appreciation for my own.
2. Meet people from all over the world:
While studying abroad, you are sure to make new friends from all over the world. In my classes, I had students from the U.S., Australia, Morocco and China sitting next to me. When I attended the language exchanges that my host university provided, I befriend people from Spain, Italy and Germany. Each of these relationships enriched me with unique stories, experiences and advice. Best of all, with all of these new friendships with people from all over the world, I have an excuse to visit a lot more countries!
3. Language Immersion:
If you are learning or have ever wanted to learn another language, studying abroad in a country that speaks that language is an amazing way to learn! As a Spanish major, I studied abroad in Spain, taking my courses in Spanish and living with a host family that did not speak a word of English. Living in Spain really pushed me to use my Spanish on a daily basis, and my skill and comfort level in the language grew exponentially.
4. Personal Growth:
Studying abroad will help you grow as a person in more ways than you can imagine. Whether it be learning to be okay with being uncomfortable, developing independence or discovering new interests, my semester abroad has without a doubt shaped who I am today. And while there are immediate growths that I have observed in myself, I know that my study abroad experience will continue to shape me for years to come.
5. Professional Development:
Not only does studying abroad aid in personal development, but with professional development as well. Studies have found that study abroad students are twice as likely to find employment post graduation when compared to same aged peers who did not study abroad. Furthermore, studying abroad allows you to expand your network internationally and acquire skills that can be leveraged in the workplace.
6. Intercultural Development:
In an increasingly more connected, diverse society, it is more important that ever to be culturally competent. Studying abroad helps students to become more culturally competent by allowing them to better understand the experiences and values of people different from themselves, and allows them to question their own biases.
7. Experience Global Education:
Each country approaches education and instructional methods differently, and studying abroad offers a great insight into global education. Getting used to a completely different grading scale and classroom etiquette in Spain was a little challenging at first, but being able to come back and explain the differences between American and Spanish education to my friends and teachers was a great experience, especially being an education major.
8. Opportunity to overcome challenges:
Studying abroad was one of the best things I’ve ever done, but also one of the most challenging. Culture shock is real. There will be times where you feel as though your foreign language skills aren’t enough. There may be a pandemic that cuts your program in half. Throughout your study abroad experience, challenges will inevitably come up; however, each of these obstacles helped me to learn efficient ways to cope and showed me how to face adversity.
9. Travel and Adventure:
For many students, myself included, studying abroad may be the first time they leave the country, invoking a passion for adventure and love for travel. While in Spain, I had the opportunity to plan trips to Portugal, Paris, London, Morocco, Ireland and Amsterdam. Even on the weekends when I wasn’t traveling around Europe, waking up in a beautiful city with hundreds of things to explore made every day an adventure.
10. Life-Changing Experience:
Not a day goes by where I don’t think about my time studying abroad and all of the amazing memories I made there. Each day I find myself applying one of the various skills I acquired when studying abroad. I regularly catch up with friends made while studying abroad, or FaceTime with my host family to update them on my life in the States. I look back fondly on my travels from my semester abroad while dreaming of where my next adventure will take me. I encourage others to get out and experience the world, wanting others to be changed the way I was. In virtually all aspects of my life, it is evident that my semester abroad changed me — for the better — and that is something I will forever be grateful for.
Amanda Hall is a CEA Alumni Ambassador who studied abroad in Granada, Spain, during the Spring 2020 semester. She is currently a student at Illinois State University.
Amanda Hall is the Spring 2020 Alumni Ambassador in Granada, Spain, and is currently studying at Illinois State University.