What is Study Abroad?
If you’re reading this, you probably have an idea that you know what you think actually is or might be the easily defined or maybe not-so-typical definition of study abroad.
Or maybe you don’t.
That’s why I’m here to help pinpoint exactly what study abroad is – and what it can be for you.
Study abroad is the act of a student pursuing educational opportunities in a country other than one’s own. This can include primary, secondary, and post-secondary students. There are study abroad programs for high school students, too, and I’m working on getting an interview up that focuses on this topic.
Ok – let’s break it all down.
Live and learn… but not at home, is basically…what it means.
Study abroad programs usually are run through universities and give students the opportunity to live and study in a foreign country. You are able to take academic classes or become fluent in another language (or two) in a completely different part of the world.
I can tell you from my own experience that it’s one of the best, most rewarding, and most life-enriching adventures you will ever have. The time you spend as an international student allows you to take in every single aspect of a foreign culture and actually live it.
Don’t even think of saying no to such a sensational opportunity…don’t you dare!
Depending on your personal and educational goals, and often your finances (although this really doesn’t have to be a factor since there are so many financial aid options out there), you can study abroad for a semester, a month, an academic year, a few years, or just a summer. Whatever you choose, you can earn college credit toward your degree during this time. And, for most, it won’t extend the amount of time for your graduation.
The world is getting smaller every day making it more important than ever for you to be able to navigate and communicate across cultures. Foreign study gives you the tools to do this.
Customize Your Program
There are so many different types of study abroad opportunities that you really can tailor your experience to fit your own specific requirements.
Doesn’t matter how many responsibilities you have at home, school, or work, there will be be a program that’s right for you. You can receive academic credit in classroom courses at your host university or get a taste of the real thing through hands-on experiential learning (how does marine conservation in the Mediterranean sound?). 🐟🐠🐡
You can perfect your foreign language skills, do research, gain on-the-job expertise with an internship, or enjoy service learning through volunteering. Or maybe you’d like to combine a couple of these options. Whatever your preference, the choice is yours.
To get the ball rolling, talk with an advisor in your school’s study abroad office. This is the person who can help you zero in on the type of program that’s best for you so that you can explore the world on your terms.
View Study Abroad as a Smart Investment
Initially, you might think of study abroad as a way to travel to another country, maybe someplace on your bucket list that you’ve always wanted to visit. You will stand at iconic landmarks, have an up-close look at unique landscapes and wildlife, bravely eat exotic foods, participate in quirky customs, and take some pretty amazing pictures.
All in all, you could say study abroad is an extraordinary learning experience you would never have in a classroom.
When you travel abroad, you are investing your time, your money, your courage, and your academic efforts in one amazing trip. It may be the only time in your life where you will be exposed to new ideas, new people, and new ways of living all in one awe-inspiring package.
Of course, like anything else, you need to be on board 100 percent to reap the greatest benefit; but what you put into your international adventure, I guarantee you’ll get back tenfold in personal growth, happiness, global understanding, and professional expertise. Embrace every bit of this once-in-a-lifetime experience and it will be the smartest, most worthwhile investment of your life!
When you choose to study abroad, you are doing more than introducing yourself to a new culture. International study opens new doors that you may never have come in contact with had you stayed home.
And guess who you’ll meet when you open those doors – YOU!
Studying abroad is a way to get to know who you are, to discover what you really believe and what you actually think of the world. It pushes you to learn because you find yourself in a place where you can’t take things for granted.
It teaches you to be empathetic and accepting of world views and life experiences that are different from your own.
When you’re in a foreign country trying to get a handle on everything that’s going on around you, the people you meet become more than friends; they are your life lines, ready to teach you and help you any way they can. And you will get a great feeling by being able to do the same with them. The kind of trust and friendship that fosters is irreplaceable.
So, back to the original question – what is study abroad? If it were a college course, I’d call it “Introduction to Yourself.”
The experience will teach you to go beyond your usual boundaries and challenge yourself, probably more than ever before. You’ll take big leaps and think in new ways. What’s so great about this is that you’ll actually love doing it.
Naturally, each student will “grow” at a different pace so it will be a little different for you than the next guy (or gal). But for EVERYONE, there’s nothing that will ever compare.
You and I both would have a hard time finding people who regret their international experience. It’s one of the best, most interesting (and most fun) ways to promote personal growth in your life and is something that study abroad alumni around the globe agree wholeheartedly should not be missed.
I’m still trying to find someone to have on the podcast who regrets their experience, and there simply isn’t anyone who regrets studying abroad.
So Now You Know What Study Abroad Is
It’s Everything. It’s Anything. It’s…
Second side note: As of this writing, 82 percent of our listeners reside in the United States, which means 18 percent don’t (go world!) 📄📄
Third side note: Try starting a podcast, they’re fun. After we stopped recording in my very first interview, Dilyn Reisterer and I talked about how there aren’t enough female podcasters, but ironically the vast majority of students that study abroad are, in fact girls. 📄📄📄*
Oh, I almost forgot; don’t forget to take notes while class is in session 😊.
It’s pretty obvious by now that study abroad is wa-y-y-y more than going to another country to take some classes and see the sights. It’s late nights, missed flights, excursions, and impromptu adventures all wrapped into one. Quite literally, the time of your life.
You’ll try different foods, meet different people, and come home a more well rounded individual. 🌯🌶🥓🍓🥒🥞🍭
You need to look at it as the best opportunity you’ll ever have to immerse yourself in a new environment and learn in ways you never would be able to at home. So don’t be scared. And don’t make excuses why you can’t go. Don’t let this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity slip trough your fingers. It may never come your way again…Ever!
Now that I’ve helped you to understand what study abroad is, I hope you are inspired to start making plans for your own personal adventure.
*We couldn’t figure out why, either. And honestly, I’m still trying to figure it out. There needs to be more market research done in this area, no joke.