There’s no shortage of articles insisting that studying abroad will change your life. Whether you plan to take a semester abroad or dive straight into an entire course of studies in a foreign land, studying abroad is widely heralded as the ultimate way to broaden your horizons. Beyond the fuzzy notion of it being a good idea, however, there are specific reasons why studying abroad may appeal to ambitious talents. Perhaps more pointedly still, it presents a wealth of opportunities that no driven, career-minded student should forego.
Getting out of the comfort zone
As an ambitious individual, making the very most of your time as a student is paramount. You know from the outset that you will have to invest a certain amount of time in acquiring the specialist knowledge and honing the skills required in your desired field. As a matter of efficiency on a fast-paced career track, you will want to squeeze every last drop of formative benefit from your university years. You also understand that to excel in the multi-faceted world of global business, you will need a grasp of “how the world works”, to think outside of your national perimeters and afford the appropriate importance to different values and mindsets.
Your desire to have it all may already have guided you toward the social and cultural enrichment that goes hand in hand with studying abroad. Your drive and passion tell you that you can cope with the challenge of thriving in an unfamiliar environment. And, dare we say it, you may be too well-acquainted with predictable accomplishments. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone will stretch your capacity and appetite for the uncertain and dynamic.
Reaping the rewards of elevated language skills and cultural awareness
Studying abroad provides a unique opportunity to become fully immersed in another language and culture. During your studies abroad, you may learn a local language or deepen your knowledge of English as an international language of instruction. Both additional languages and a strong command of English are an embellishment to your CV, of course, but the benefits of language skills extend beyond this.
Advanced language skills are a window into the respective culture and the dominant thought processes of those who belong to it. The abstract, flowery nature of the French language, for instance, speaks of the artsy, philosophical undertones present in French culture. The tendency toward long, convoluted sentences in formal German represent the value attached to complex, detailed thinking. Venture into languages using other alphabets or even symbols, and a whole new world of meaning allocation opens up. Not to mention language comprehension skills being the key that unlocks entire information channels, from local newspapers to virtually any text not provided in translation.
Without the time constraints of a nine-to-five job with a fixed number of vacation days per year and armed with a student discount card, students are in an excellent position to exploit the potential for travel in their host country and may even be able to explore neighboring countries. Add to this the likelihood of your fellow students in an international university environment being from different countries, and you are predetermined to come into contact with a variety of new customs, traditions and points of view. Increased cultural awareness gives us a more objective perspective on our own preconceptions and feeds into wise business decisions, taking national connotations and preferences into account. This is of particular importance for those looking to work in a global environment.
Broadening your educational parameters
As a student to whom academic achievement is crucial, you may be more likely than others to qualify for a merit-based study abroad scholarship, alleviating the financial burden of studying overseas. You may also be able to draw upon your record thus far to secure an internship during your time away or be a better candidate for future internships thanks to your studies abroad. Equally, a stint abroad at undergraduate level may give you that extra je ne sais quoi when applying for high-caliber postgraduate programs. By opening the door to a broader range of prestigious universities, studying abroad can have a significant impact on your educational trajectory.
As Professor Kimberly Hutchings told topuniversities.com, integrating into an internationally diverse academic community can enhance the quality of your learning by confronting you with a broader spectrum of opinions and expertise. In the same article, Lauren Welch draws our attention to the fact that you can tailor your choice of study location to your field of interest. This would see those studying finance gravitate toward global hubs such as New York, London or Hong Kong, and the politically oriented head to Washington DC or Brussels, for example. Meanwhile, Dee Roach highlights the superior research and development credentials of certain countries for particular strands of education: Germany for engineering technology or Canada for its expertise in “Co-op programs”, say.
Maximizing your study abroad benefits
The above points illustrate that as well as asking yourself whyyou should study abroad, adequate thought must also be invested into the decision as to whereyou study abroad. As regards your country of choice, to leverage the best possible impact on your career, consider the profile of the country: What role does this country play in today’s economy? Look for countries manifesting economic growth (e.g. China) that welcome innovation (e.g. Singapore) and diversity (e.g. Norway), and have top-ranking education institutions (e.g. the U.S.). Seek out locations steeped in architectural, historical, cultural and even culinary richness. When choosing your university abroad, be sure to consult global university rankings and choose a program not only conducive to your goal, but that will challenge you to think outside of the box.
Boosting your post-certification employment opportunities
As EHL Insights reports, studying abroad can have tangible career benefits. As regards your professional profile, this works in two ways. On one hand, when employers spot study abroad on your CV, it signals to them that you had the courage to take a step into the unknown, that you are willing to learn and unafraid of a challenge. As a potential hire, you are more likely to bring open-mindedness and curiosity to the table and not to shy away from commitment. On the other hand, studying abroad enriches your profile by fostering various skills and attributes employers are on the lookout for: language, social and intercultural skills, of course, but also communication and collaboration, adaptability and flexibility, self-reliance, resilience, not to mention planning and organization skills.
In addition, the deep and enduring nature of friendships made while studying abroad lay the perfect foundations for an international network of contacts, especially considering the added geographical scope gained when your fellow students disperse back to their respective home countries.
Becoming your best self
Take it from Maria Matskevich, studying abroad truly shapes who you are. Granting yourself permission to explore, opening your mind to life-changing experiences, assuming responsibility for yourself and your decisions makes any ambitious talent more rounded and better equipped to deal with professional life. Studying abroad provides you with the arena in which to become the most independent, resourceful, confident version of yourself. Is studying abroad a top requirement for ambitious talents? We proffer a resounding “yes!”.
Are you looking specifically to conquer the hospitality industry? Go ahead and take a look at the top ten hospitality and tourism soft skills. You will find the overlap with the benefits of studying abroad is striking.