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Value of Studying Abroad
It’s hard to get through a semester at uni without meeting that one person who never stops talking about their semester studying abroad. And yes, sometimes you just want to tell them to please stop talking about the time they went to Oktoberfest in Munich or Spring Break in Cancun. Whether you like it or not however, you’d probably be the same if you went on exchange yourself—it’s hard to stop talking about the value of studying abroad. Studying abroad really is an invaluable opportunity like no other, whether you’re dying to experience college party life in the US or craving a culinary adventure through Europe.
So here I’m going to give you ten reasons why I think anyone would benefit from taking a semester abroad, whether you’re a party animal, a straight A student, or anywhere in between.
1. Broaden your horizons
It really goes without saying that travelling is one of the best ways to gain new perspectives and a greater understanding of the world. Whilst Australia is a multicultural society, and we are lucky enough to be able to meet people from all corners of the world, life here is still very different from life anywhere else.
2. Build your confidence
One of the biggest challenges of studying abroad is making it through the first phase: shock. The day you arrive, all sorts of thoughts may be running through your head, like: “What am I doing here and why am I here all alone?!?” Going to meet new people in an unfamiliar place and getting through that first phase of culture shock can be challenging, but overcoming it is extremely rewarding and self-assuring.
3. Boost your resumé
It’s no secret that living and studying abroad is a really valuable experience that builds young minds into confident, worldly individuals. Whether you can boost your resumé with extra-curricular experiences from your exchange university, or even just add the exchange semester to your list of educational experience, prospective employers will often regard you higher for it.
4. Make new friends
Yes, Australians are everywhere. Even if you choose the most exotic location on your university’s list of exchange destinations there’s a 99% chance (roughly) that you’ll meet another Aussie exploring the other side of the world. Nonetheless, you’re bound to make a bunch of new friends from all over the globe.
5. Experience a different style of education
One of the greatest ways to improve your study skills and ability to get through tricky semesters at uni is learning how to respond to different teaching and learning styles in another country. Whether it be engaging in heated class debates in the US or the more formal lecture style of classes in France, you’re bound to find yourself adapting to a new kind of learning and benefiting greatly from it.
6. Immerse yourself in a different culture
Even countries that we feel we know well through pop culture or the internet have very different lifestyles to Australia. Whether you go somewhere familiar or not familiar at all, there are always different customs, traditions, arts, and history to immerse yourself in.
7. (Don’t) break the bank
There aren’t many countries in the world that offer their students the kinds of loans that Australians can receive to go on student exchange. Some would even say that it would be silly for anyone to forego the amazing opportunity provided by the government’s OS-HELP loan. Even without it, managing your finances abroad is a great way to learn how not to break the bank.
8. Master a foreign language
If you choose to go somewhere where English (or any other native language you may have) is not the first language, you’re bound to come back in impeccable command of a new one. It’s well known that immersion is the best way to learn a new language!
9. Find new hobbies!
Of course exchange isn’t all about the university experience, but also about all the different adventures you’ll have alongside it. You might find yourself learning how to snowboard after seeing snow for the first time, cherry blossom viewing in Japan’s beautiful Spring, or playing a new sport that you’d never even heard of before.
10. Open the door…
Lastly, regardless of what kind of exchange you envision, I can guarantee you that you’ll be surprised in so many ways by the breadth of experiences you’ll have. No one can predict for you what will happen on your trip, but it’s almost certain that going out and exploring the world will open up your door to an unimaginable wealth of new opportunities.
So the next time you get stuck hearing about the amazing exchange experience your tute buddy had last semester, instead of trying to tune out, get some advice about studying abroad and find out how to apply at your university!
Elisa is currently studying postgrad Medicine in Australia and working as part of the GradReady GAMSAT Prep Marketing Team. In her spare time (a rare occurrence these days), Elisa loves writing about all the ups and downs of uni life.