College often speaks as the time where you figure out who you are. You leave the comforts of your hometown where you’ve been learning with the same people since kindergarten and go start your own journey. You say farewell to the life you’ve only ever known and continue to make your life your own. After so many applications and processes you get to your college; the college that you put all of your efforts into attending. While your college campus may seem like a whole new world, you still are stuck in what many call “the American bubble.” While there are many reasons to study abroad, I will be highlighting three: improve your social skills, it’s a resume builder and you learn things that are unreachable in a classroom setting.
Developing social skills is a crucial asset when applying for jobs. Most people in America can communicate using English, hand signals or a mix between the two to get their point across. When you immerse yourself in a country where another language is spoken and develop the skills to communicate, you are golden. Each country has its own informal set of rules: shake hands when you meet, kiss each other on the cheek, women have to be covered, etc. By being surrounded in a place wildly unfamiliar from your own sense of normal, you are forced to be more attentive and learn new ways to act so no one around you is offended or confused. Studying in another country allows you to be put in an uncomfortable social setting with your fellow peers and a teacher to help guide you. It’s safe and more reassuring rather than traveling completely on your own.
Your resume can take you places. It can be the window to your life for whoever you give it to. Employers want well rounded and unique individuals to represent their company. Studying abroad is a useful tool to build up your resume and represent all of the skills and connections you may have gained. Seeing that you are comfortable with travel, studying with distractions, developing social skills and adjusting fairly quickly are all great assets for any company. You can also put down what school you studied at in order to make your education section look a little more well rounded and developed.
You can learn math and history in the classroom. It’s simple and is basically what happens during your entire education. When you travel abroad you don’t get to just learn, but also see and experience it first hand. Go to Greece and see the ruins in order to better understand how important the gods were to the ancient Greeks. Visit urban China in order to understand how developed they are and contrast it with a visit to rural China; you’ll be amazed by the mountains and crops planted to sustain the country. We can only see half of the beauty in each picture taken and each story told. By studying abroad, you can actually be placed in the actual setting and be able to take in not only the foreign understanding but also how the people living their actually experience life.
Studying abroad as an undergraduate is a great experience for every person who gets the chance. If money is an issue then plan ahead: contact your financial aid advisors, apply to scholarships, and save up your money. Fundraise until you are able to expand your knowledge across oceans. This is a great way to get a vacation and credits all at the same time and can cost not nearly as much as an actual vacation would. Go discover the world that’s waiting for you.
Katelyn LaScola is 19 years old and attends James Madison University. She is double majoring in Writing, rhetoric and technical communication as well as media arts and design. Between running her own blog and studying constantly she makes time for her friends and family as much as possible. She likes to stay busy and will not be seen without her planner in hand. She hopes to help end the stigma around mental health and encourage others to become leaders wherever they may be.