In an increasingly globalized world, there is no doubt gaining an international education and global perspective is a high value asset for students. It can be difficult at times to see the tangible benefits of studying abroad, especially for shorter programmes that are little better than trumped up sight seeing trips with slight educational overtones. This is further exacerbated by high costs and geopolitical issues, especially over the last few years and in the wake of covid. When students participate in a good program there are numerous benefits students will enjoy in their personal lives, in school, and professionally. In this post I want to go over some of the benefits that students can gain from studying abroad, whatever their age and wherever they go. Now I might be a bit biased because I did several study abroad trips through school and even did my Master’s overseas, but studying abroad is one of the biggest and easiest advantages for students to seize in an increasingly competitive job and university candidacy market.
Insights into foreign universities and majors
One of the hardest parts about planning for university, is figuring out what you’re going to study in the first place, let alone where you’re going to go. There are so many options in terms of majors and schools, with massive financial consequences for making the wrong decision, from student loan debt to being stuck in a field that you don’t enjoy or doesn’t pay dividends on your initial investment. Going on a study tour before university is a great way to offset some of these risks. By visiting a country before you enter university you can learn about the universities in that country as well as popular majors and truly good study tours will include opportunities to interact with local students giving students a firsthand look at what they can expect from university life. At BlueSky, we endeavour to give every student the opportunity to meet with students from the area of study they’re interested in so they can make the crucial decision of their major with confidence.
Building resilience and self-reliance
Leaving home for the first time can be a big shock for students, especially if they have no experience living outside their parents home. Study abroad gives students the opportunity to live abroad and develop more independent life skills, and parents can be at ease knowing that on most study abroad trips 24 hour support is only a phone call away. Ordering at restaurants, asking directions and just living every day life in a foreign country is going to be a massive boost to students’ self-confidence and resilience.
Building an understanding of foreign culture – and business
Perhaps the most immediate benefit of studying abroad is gaining an appreciation for and understanding of foreign cultures, and importantly, with that knowledge of how business in that country is conducted. Gaining a deeper understanding of a culture through first hand experience is going to provide invaluable insight in the future. Many study abroad programs now include business elements such as company tours, talks, and internships, further solidifying these benefits. Students will also be exposed to new ideas and ways of doing things that they can incorporate into their own lives giving them a host of advantages over their peers.
Building a global network
This one follows from the previous point, but is one that not a lot of people think of when they think about why students should study abroad, and that is the opportunity to start building a network of global connections before even leaving school. It’s an age old adage in business that networks are the key to success. While visiting other countries students will have the opportunity to make friends who will not only broaden their perspectives but also create networks that can be invaluable professionally and boost future employability wherever students go. Good study abroad programmes will give students multiple opportunities to interact with students, not only during the program but also during online pre and post learning online sessions where students will be able to cement and continue to develop these relationships.
Higher employability and better admissions to universities and grad schools
It’s no doubt that today students are facing far fiercer competition for university positions and jobs than they ever have in the past, from home and abroad. Many universities today have acceptance rates below 10% and competition for jobs at major companies is even worse. Having gone on study tours or having studied abroad make an excellent addition to any student’s resume and help them to stand out in a crowded field. You don’t have to take my word for it, job agencies consistently emphasize the importance of international travel and global perspective for candidates.
Improved language and communication skills
Lastly, let’s not forget perhaps the biggest benefit of studying abroad, improving your language skills. Ask anyone learning a foreign language and they will tell you they learned a lot more a lot faster by immersing themselves in the language and culture than they ever did in a classroom. Not to say that there isn’t value in studying a language at home but students will learn a lot faster and gain a deeper understanding of the language than they ever could in the classroom at home. Communicating does more than just improve a student’s ability to speak that language, taking students out of their element and exposing them to a host of new cultures, customs and experiences is going not only improve their ability to communicate in that country’s particular language but make them an all around better communicator, in any language.
I hope this helps illustrate some of the key benefits of study abroad and sparks some interest in offering these kinds of opportunities to your students. Personally, I wouldn’t trade the experiences I had studying internationally for anything in the world, and given the opportunity and the right program, your students will love it too. At BlueSky Education we build our programs around helping students develop real world skills that they can use in all aspects of their lives. Every aspect of the program is focused on real, active learning and full cultural immersion so that whether students go for just a few days to a few months, you know that they’re getting the most out of their study abroad experience possible. Whether you choose BlueSky or another international study tour provider I hope you give your students the chance to build new memories and skills that will last a lifetime.
Author Bio: Ryan is an international educator with over ten years global teaching experience, designing and implementing programmes for multiple schools across the APAC region.