Study Abroad Program: Yes or No?
There’s a game that children play in order to discover if someone loves them or not. It’s also used by youngsters when they need to take an important decision, if they are in doubt. Do you know the “Will-they-won’t-they” game?
It consists of taking a daisy from the grass. You should know that every daisy has a different number of petals and this is the secret of the game. You pull off one petal at a time, saying “Will I…?” at the first one, then “Won’t I…?” while pulling off the second one, until the last petal is removed and you find out the result of your query.
You can try to use this to find out what a study abroad program is, and if it fits you or not. Otherwise, we can help you by providing you with some of the key concepts about what a study abroad program is and why it will benefit you. But…
Why are you asking yourself if a study abroad program fits you?
We probably know the answer!
You have just met your best friends coming back from a year abroad experience in United Kingdom and Spain. They seem relaxed, happy and full of life. They are telling you about all the amazing adventures they had. They are enthusiastic. Their eyes are wet while they narrate their experiences. Their smiles express the joy they still feel, which pours out through their words. Their stories are giving you goosebumps and you notice they have the same sensation. They are telling you that their lives have changed, they feel they’ve grown up within a few months and their mindset has changed. They feel reborn.
Mark Twain, a famous American author, said:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
- Do you feel ready to “Explore. Dream. Discover”?
- Have you ever dreamed to travel abroad?
- Have you ever thought about spending a year abroad, far from your “safe harbour”?
- Do you feel ready to “throw off the bowlines”?
Taking the decision of studying abroad forces you to reply to these questions, which touch your deepest fear: will I be able to spend a year far from where I live and what I am?
A study abroad program is all this. It is leaving the known to discover the unknown. Let’s take a step backwards and see what a study abroad program is.
What is a study abroad program?
I have been asked this question thousands of times since people discovered I spent a year of my life abroad. I can tell you that it seems like such an easy question to answer, but it is actually so hard to reply and define what it is.
These three words together – study abroad program - imply a real and unlimited world. It is impossible to wrap up the meaning of this expression in few words. But what is a study abroad program?
- It’s more than traveling and sightseeing.
- It’s growing up, changing mindset, thinking in new ways.
- It’s meeting new people, connecting with foreign people, living new adventures.
- It’s making yours a foreign culture and sharing your culture and traditions.
- It’s becoming a citizen of the world and discovering yourself to your deepest inner self…
- It’s experiencing life!
You would not regret it, and that’s a promise! – I experienced myself studying abroad and there is no better way to say that it changed my life. I came back as a new me. It is for sure one of the most exciting and life-changing experiences of life! After that, nothing will be the same again.
The 5+1 Wh questions to define a study abroad program
1. What is it?
It is a period of time that a learner spends abroad for experiential education. It can last 3, 6, 9 or 12 months. During this period, you have the chance to attend a foreign university, known as the “receiving university”, which offers you the same services and classes of your home university. At the same time, you also get the chance to do an internship in the receiving country in order to increase your experience and skills in your area.
2. Who can apply for a study abroad program?
You can apply for a study abroad program whether you are an undergraduate student or a postgraduate student. If you would like to have a fresh, new look at your subject matter, if you would like to experience different ways of teaching and learning, if you would like to grow academically and personally, a study abroad program is right for you.
3. When can you apply for it?
Each university has a different deadline for applying to a study abroad program. You should check on their website and keep yourself updated.. For sure, you will find no better moment in life to leave your “safe harbour”, as Mark Twain said, because you are young and you are building your life step by step.
4. Where is the best place to apply for?
There is not a right answer to this question. Your choice depends on what you are studying and on your goals. For example, if you want to improve your English language skills, because you think that it is a core requirement for a future job, what city could be better than London? London is one of the greatest cities in the world, because it is the heart of luxury shops, business enterprises, starred universities and colleges, famous restaurants… It is full of life! This is only one example, as like I mentioned before, your choice depends on what you want.
5. How can you apply?
Every university has its own process. What I can say to you is: be ready to explain what is pushing you to undertake this experience and how motivated you are. And, I am sure, you can’t wait to demonstrate it.
Last, but not least question is…
6. Why will it benefit your whole life?
If you ask this question to all the people that experienced a study abroad program, you will get different answers, because there are multiple benefits and everybody will have their own. Let’s try to put them together.
You will expand your worldview
This means that your mindset will change, you will be open to new perspectives, traditions and lifestyle, because you will be interacting with different cultures, which will affect your life. You will add value to your own perspectives. These will become global.
Now that you know what a study abroad program is all about, you need to ask yourself: will this impact on your future career? Of course, it will. Having a worldwide view will give you advantages in a job environment, because you will be able to deal with foreign colleagues or customers since you will understand their needs better than any other person.
You will learn or improve a new language
This is directly related to the previous paragraph. Learning or improving a new language will provide you with the necessary skills to communicate with all types of people. You will improve your communication skills, which does not only include speaking a foreign language, but also feeling confident with gestures and ways of approaching of a different culture. You will be able to have a normal conversation with someone that does not share your language and culture.
Is this affecting your career? Of course, it is. Working in an international environment means dealing with people that do not share your language and culture everyday. You will be one step further, because your attitude will be international.
You will gain experience for your resume
The study abroad program will make you gain confidence, because you will live independently for the first time in your life – maybe. You will learn how to rely on yourself in every single situation, from doing the shopping to asking information in the local language. These experiences will develop your self-confidence and open up a new world perspective. This means you will develop leadership skills, which are considered of great value from employers.
You will establish lifelong friendships
Let’s say this is the most romantic advantage of studying abroad. People think that it is difficult to make friends in a foreign country because of the language barrier. Actually, it is easier than what you might think. You will meet people from all over the world, who are studying, working or taking a gap year. They are probably in your same situation. You start to share your experience, word after word, and you feel like they become your brothers and sisters. I always say that I have parts of my heart all over Europe, because I met so many lovely people, who are now living in Europe and I can’t wait to see them again every year because they have been a very important part of my experience.
To sum it up: what is a study abroad program?
It is a “must have” experience that no one should miss and everybody should try! You will gain so many personal, academic and professional skills that you will never regret having chosen it, and you will carry all these benefits with you for life, trust me!
What else can I tell you? Leave the known and discover the unknown, it is really worth it. Let us know! We are waiting for your stories. Let us dream again through your adventures.