Why Do You Want to Study Abroad?

by Published

Hopefully you did your summer reading, because here’s a quick pop quiz!

You should pack your suitcase instead of just your backpack for the next school term, and study abroad because...

  1. A. You’ll experience personal growth
  2. B. You’ll make once-in-a-lifetime memories
  3. C. Your resume will get a professional boost
  4. D. All of the above

Not sure? Don't worry — you’ll find the answer at the end of this article!

Why Do You Want to Study Abroad?

Getting the most of a semester abroad, ultimately, depends on one main question: why do you want to study abroad? Reasons for academic globetrotting are different for all individuals, and it’s important to tailor your travels to best fit your need. At the same time, it’s good to make the experience well-rounded, and include a little bit of everything that is good.

Study abroad experiences are the perfect mixture of reckless fun and necessary responsibility; it’s like a shot of maturity and character development, but gained through all sorts of shenanigans and lazy Sunday picnics along the river. The best thing about studying abroad is that education doesn’t end in the classroom. In fact, it’s in the streets and on weekend field trips that most of the learning is going to take place. It’s also about making new BFF’s and learning new slang. It’s about seeing the world and learning how to buy bus tickets from corner stands, and figuring out the lunch menu logograms.

So, when asking yourself why is studying abroad important, focus on more than just academic success (although don’t forget to attend classes and form study groups). Think about the mentalities and lessons you’d like to bring back home, and don’t let report cards rule your experience abroad. Sign up for extracurricular activities and get out as much as possible.

The world is your classroom, and it’s full of great resources.

Here’s a few reasons why study abroad is important:

You can see the sights.

Let’s be honest: one of the reasons you decided to study abroad in China was because you really want to see the Great Wall of China. I mean, who goes to study abroad in Paris and doesn’t go to the top of the Eiffel Tower? If you’re going to spend 30+ hours flying to study in Melbourne, you might as make the journey for that instagram-worthy pic of Uluru.

young man walking up the steps of ancient temple with backpack and camera
You’re not going to study abroad and miss out on (insert major landmark here). That’s just silly.

One of the obvious perks of studying abroad is to go abroad and to see all that your host country has to offer. Another pro of studying abroad is discovering that your favorite sights from abroad are probably not going to be the pyramids of Egypt or the Christ the Redeemer statue. Rather, your favorite place abroad is going to be the bustling souk or an isolated beach outside of Rio’s city limits. There’s a special air of nostalgia in the evening sunlight reflecting off Tuscany’s terracotta shingles, and the solidarity of the place just adds to the magic. Naturally, national monuments are great for photo ops, but it’s the back alleys and hidden cafes that you’ll miss most once the semester is up.

You can learn the language.

It’s one thing to ace grammar tests and another to successfully order the sandwich toppings that you want. While textbooks are great at laying out sentence structure and organizing vocabulary into thematic groups, there’s a limit to how much memorized dialogues will help you get around.

Whether you’re babysitting your adorable(y obnoxious) host brother or making friends with the baker at the pâtisserie down the street, chances are, at first, you’re not going to understand a single word coming out of their mouth. Don’t panic or curse the last three years of French class; this is normal.

group studying together with notebooks, red folder, laptop, and iced coffee
Yes, you are actually there to study (a little…).

Between dialects, slang, intonation differences, and conversation speed, the street version of your host country’s language might resemble Klingon more than the language it’s supposed to be. However, after a few weeks of tentative pronunciation, embarrassing mistakes, and puzzled looks, you’re going to become a true omniglot (and if not, there’s always the possibility to sign up for some extra language classes abroad!).

Language immersion and pure necessity will have you speaking like a pro in no time. Even better: you’re going to sound like a native, not like those recordings from classroom tapes. In fact, you’ll probably be able to bring back a few cool words to Frau Schwartz back home. Capisci?!

You will re-meet yourself.

There is good chance that the coolest person you’re going to meet while studying abroad will be yourself. However, that person is going to look so glamorous and be so interesting and radiate such charismatic charm that you’re going to have a hard time recognizing them. Actually, you might need someone to point them out at first.

Somewhere between crossing off the luggage check-list and memorizing your class schedule, you lost a few layers of doubt, misconception, fear, and insecurity. At some point between host family dinners and that first date with a local, you gained confidence, opened your mind, and picked up new lingo. By the time your semester (or year) abroad is up, you’ll have gained more than just a tan; you’ll be a fearless jet-setter who knows international trends, knows what kind of coffee to order for breakfast, and which bus to hail down in the middle of rush hour.

woman in striped longsleeve shirt with arms outstretched facing the sunlight on a balcony
Hello, you, have you met the new-more-confident-and-independent you?

Maybe you discovered new hobbies abroad (badminton? batik? bachata?) or you adopted new responsibilities; whatever the specifics, the New-and-Improved-You ain’t got nothin’ on that timid soul left behind. There are few better character development opportunities in the world than stepping into a completely foreign situation and calling it home.

You can dance in the rain (after dancing all night).

For many people, stepping out of familiar territory and studying abroad comes with life’s first YOLO moment. There’s the realization that the world is really big, and you are really small, and your little presence could never fill up every corner, no matter how much it tries. This discovery brings about many types of new behaviors: losing fear of failure, not caring what bypassers think, letting curiosity get the best of you, saying oui, bien sûr! to everything.

Back home, you were already watching the latest release on Netflix, fuzzy socks on feet and hot cocoa in hand, by 11 p.m. Abroad, the night doesn’t even begin before midnight. There are never enough hours in the day to see the sights, taste the tastes, and feel the feels. And, somehow, there’s so much excitement and thirst in your body, that there’s no room for tiredness.

Knowing that time abroad is limited (or is it?), the idea of turning down any fun (or just crazy) offers seems ludicrous. The best part about this is that this carpe diem mentality becomes ingrained in your brain, and the mindset to take advantage of every day stays long after you get back on the plane home.

polaroids clothespinned to framed hung on a wall
You make once-in-a-lifetime memories abroad. Is there really any reason you shouldn’t study abroad?

You can take over the world.

Deciding to study abroad is the first step to taking the world by storm. In a day and age where the professional market is more and more a global network, experience with various cultures, languages, and educational institutions is a necessity to standing out in the crowd.

No matter how awesome your art portfolio or volunteer experiences are, placing these skills in an international context expands your field of connections and opportunities for professional placements. Whether you took up a part-time hospitality internship while studying in Greece  or you helped out at an orphanage while spending a semester in Sri Lanka, the work ethic you picked up abroad becomes vital in character growth and résumé shine. Most people can say that they took extracurricular art classes in high school, but how many people can brag that they studied sculpture in Peru? Both college admission offices and job companies are going to be impressed by that extra sparkle from international experience.

It also goes without saying that, by studying abroad, you’re going to meet a whole lot of people that can hook you up. Both classroom friends and teachers are great sources of sending your resume/CV abroad. It sure doesn’t hurt to expand the playing field, especially when talking about college or work opportunities.

So, why do YOU want to study abroad?

Remember that your specific goals aside, the time spent abroad should be one of growth and laughter. And, more importantly, the lessons learned abroad should continue long after the return flight home.

Study abroad is important, as it is the first step to opening your eyes to the many possibilities in the world—and within yourself. So, make it a goal to turn your study abroad experience into the best chapter of your life. Fill it with characters and scenarios that will shape you into the person you’ve always known you could be.

ANSWER: Why do you want to study abroad? You should pack your suitcase instead of just your backpack for the next school term, and study abroad because...

  1. A. You’ll experience personal growth
  2. B. You’ll make once-in-a-lifetime memories
  3. C. Your resume will get a professional boost
  4. D. All of the above (...duh.)

Now that you have answers for your advantages of studying abroad essay...

It's high-time you find a program that matches your study abroad goals — that way you can truly enjoy the benefits of study abroad. Check out GoAbroad's list of top rated programs of 2016, or get other study abroad ideas from our handy list below (Note: review stats accurate at time of writing).

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