International Studies: Taking Education to Exciting Places
The New Global Classroom
So, you’re thinking about studying abroad! Studying in another country can be an exciting learning opportunity.
Most colleges and universities offer diverse study abroad programs, and many now encourage students to take a course or semester abroad.
And it’s not just colleges and universities that offer international programs, it’s also become big business. Students may opt for a study abroad course program designed by one of a number of well-respected independent study abroad agencies.
The most notable benefits to studying abroad: you’ll grow as a person and learn about another culture.
Americans Studying Abroad
The number of Americans studying in foreign countries is continuing to rise. More and more students recognize the importance of studying abroad in our globally-inter-dependent world.
According to many figures, close to 200,000 students venture abroad each year. And most even earn credit for the experience!
While many students still seek traditional European locales, such as United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and France, a growing number of students are opting for non-traditional destinations, including South America, Central America, and even the safer countries in the Mideast.
Once upon a time, studying abroad was reserved exclusively for students who could afford to get themselves there. But now colleges and universities have fashioned international programs that are accessible to every student, with scholarship and grant programs designed to get everyone overseas.
International Students in America
Just as American students often choose to study in other countries, thousands of international students choose to study in America.
However, there has been a slight decline in international students studying in America in recent years. There are many unfortunate reasons for the decline, including difficulties in obtaining visas, a rise in tuition costs, and common perceptions that international students are not welcomed in the United States.
Graduate international students in particular are frequent travelers to America. Our country has some of the most respected research universities in the world, and they serve as a gathering ground for international scholars, many of whom are here on fellowships and grants.
Choosing a Quality Study Abroad Program
There are so many countries and study abroad programs from which to choose. How do you decide which one is right for you? When looking for a study abroad program, make the following considerations, and choose carefully:
- Academic Needs/Personal Objectives: It’s important to find a program that matches your academic needs as well as personal reasons for wanting to study abroad. What do you expect to gain from the experience? Will the program meet those needs for you?
- Program Sponsors: Who runs the program? Is the program owned and operated by the college or university that you attend or another institution? Or will you travel independently of any college or university?
- Finances: Will your financial aid package cover costs associated with studying abroad? Is there a study abroad scholarship or grant available? Have you researched the currency exchange rate? How do you plan to keep track of your expenses?
- Housing: What will be your living arrangements? In what type of area will you live? Is it safe? Will you have a roommate?
Benefits of Studying Abroad
If you ask anyone who has studied abroad, they’re sure to tell you that you’ll come back home a different person, which is one of the many benefits of taking your education to another country.
Studies have shown that studying abroad will definitely enhance your personal growth as an individual. Results support that the majotrity of students return home with increased maturity and self-confidence. Some students also report being able to tolerate ambiguity better after being exposed to another culture.
There is a general consensus that students who participate in a study abroad program have smoother multicultural interactions for the rest of their lives, which can benefit people in many personal areas of their life. Career benefits are almost certain as well. Many people develop much-needed skills of empathic communication, greater exposure to other directions for career pursuit, and a greater understanding of the world at large.
In addition, you’ll have the chance to make long-lasting friendships. Many students remain in contact for years with friends who study abroad with them and the families and individuals they encounter in their travels.
When you choose to study abroad, you will also learn a great deal about another culture through immersion in it, allowing you to gain respect for another country’s people, customs, economic system and political system.
Through taking advantage of living and learning in a foreign country, you will become well versed in the culture and can learn much more than pictures and stories in a textbook can provide. Studying abroad will bring another culture to life for you in a way that no other experience can replicate.