Studying in another country offers an excellent opportunity to boost your personal development. More and more students take advantage of this life-enriching experience, which can change your life forever. Saint Leo University offers many study abroad programs and is a host for lots of students from diverse countries and cultures as well. Here are a couple of compelling advantages of studying abroad.
Enjoying the magnificence of exploring
Different countries celebrate unconventional holidays and host different festivals that expose you to entirely original experiences of their culture. These events introduce you to local architecture, music, dances, and comida (food) that are not as common in the United States. The first advantage of studying abroad is your personal development through enrichment in the new alternatives of exploiting time. Studies show that people with multicultural experience tend to be more creative than individuals without this experience. Moreover, knowing other cultures is an excellent base of knowing yourself. Through exploration, you become self-aware of your beliefs, values, and personal biases. Consequently, you notice your uniqueness. The key is appreciating and respecting the other country's art forms, which makes it easy to unite and relate to others who are different than ourselves. Finally, while some music or food might be discerned not in your taste, there is a strong chance that you will discover a tune or dish that will stay with you for your lifetime.
Making friends from around the world
The network, which has roots not only in the local area, is worth a ton. When studying abroad, you get to know not only people from the country that you chose to study in but also students from all around the globe who also decided to explore this nation. Meeting internationals while studying abroad is beyond valuable since the friendships made can have lifetime value. While studying in the U.S., I have met remarkable students and professors from various continents, including countries like Venezuela, Jamaica, Brazil, Germany, Belarus, Norway, France, Croatia, Spain, Morocco, Egypt, Yemen, and many more.
Furthermore, I have met an American best friend who traveled with me to explore Europe over the summer. Throughout this "vacation on a budget," we were welcomed by friends of hers and mine who gladly gave us a tour around their home area. It would never have happened without the connections made while studying abroad.
Developing your language skills
Studies in another country often carry the benefit of learning another language that will not only improve your communication skills but also upgrade your CV. Even though it seems extremely challenging, learning another language could not be more efficient than through studying in it and spending all the time in the environment connected to particular dialogue. Therefore, in just a week, your brain is already open to this learning task, and you begin to understand more and more without translation. The best thing about this challenge is that there is an army of people who will help you with getting used to another culture. Study abroad students are treated by professors with extreme care and understanding. I began walking around with an English-Polish dictionary and translating every single word. Now, I am in a beginning Spanish class at Saint Leo to develop my third language proficiency. I love it!
Getting to proudly represent your country
As you are curious about the foreign lands of your study abroad adventure, the local residents are just as curious about where you're from. There were times when I had to perform research about my own country to be able to answer very interesting questions of my colleagues concerning Poland. It is an excellent experience to spread awareness of your nationality and to eliminate stereotypes, which are often nothing more than funny. Moreover, I get to share my country's traditions, including traditional dishes. For example,, we do not celebrate Thanksgiving in Poland. So, needless to say, I was pleased to prepare pierogi — Polish dumplings.
Preparing you for the international workplace
Whether you would like to work in a multinational corporation or a small business, the probability that you will interact with another culture is nearly 100 percent. The U.S. is a great country of diversity, and the economic process of globalization increases demand for experienced multicultural individuals. Through technology, the world seems to shrink, and to acknowledge the diverse cultures is crucial. The great source of this awareness is a study abroad opportunity when you are an eyewitness to discovery where the people of different cultures are collaborating and inspiring each other. Thus, cultures with new values are created. However, certain behaviors contain different meaning for other countries. For example:
- Tips in Japan- Service at restaurants and hotels will likely be exceptional in Japan, but tipping isn't done, and it could be seen as degrading.
- The left hand in India- The left hand is thought of as unclean in Indian culture, so always use your right hand to greet someone, exchange money, or pick up merchandise.
- Eating everything from the plate in China - This shows that your host didn't provide enough food or a filling meal. Along with leaving a little, it's fine to burp after eating, which is viewed as a compliment to the chef.
Learning a different way
Educational systems abroad differ from the ones in the U.S. While abroad, you are experiencing new courses and topics, as well as alternative methods of teaching and learning. Consequently, there are fantastic subjects that you would never get to learn about if not for studying abroad. Learning another language not only in the classroom but also on your feet gives a significant advantage in our interconnected world where knowing a second language is becoming a necessity. Those few months of being fully immersed in a foreign culture are equipped in the exclusive opportunity of being eligible for earning Saint Leo course credit.
Are you excited to study abroad yourself? Don't miss any opportunities that you may have to do so. Good luck!
Author bio: Julia Chmielewska is a 2019 alumna and former athlete at Saint Leo University. Throughout her life, she has traveled to over 25 countries. In 2016, she began her study abroad program in the U.S. on a swimming scholarship. The native of Poland was a president's club member, honors award recipient, and graduated as a marketing major in the spring of 2019. Her dream is to amalgamate her future professional career with her adventurous spirit.
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Photo credit: The photographs included in this blog article were provided by Julia Chmielewska and are used with permission.