Studying abroad was the most amazing experience I had when I was in college. I picked my school, The University of Oklahoma (where I met Garrett!), based on their study abroad program. I remember sitting in a room on my campus tour with my mom, listening to our guide talk about their OU in Arezzo program. The benefits of studying abroad with the University of Oklahoma was why I inevitably decided to go there.
I’m not saying everyone should go to college where I did. I’m saying everyone should study abroad if they have the opportunity. You don’t have a lot of excuses not to! There are many wonderful programs out there through schools or private companies that help students make studying abroad possible. If you’re on the fence about going to a foreign country then let me tell you some benefits of studying abroad.
You’re LIVING in a Foreign Country
I mean, obviously, this is obvious, but most important! You get to immerse yourself in another culture and experience life as a local! I chose Italy because I’ve always loved Italian food and my school had an incredible program in a town in Tuscany named Arezzo. While I was there I got to experience going to markets, tasting local cuisines, daily life like grocery shopping, and (unfortunately for me!) learning about how to see a doctor.
Not only that but there’s a history in Europe that you can’t really experience in the United States. For example, Arezzo has been around since the Etruscans and they were around before the Romans! There are still Etruscan ruins in Arezzo but more prominent is the medieval and renaissance architecture and art.
I know I’m talking a lot about Arezzo but you can find a similar and magical experience in any town or city or continent you decide to study in. Pick a country that best reflects your interests.
Explore the Country or the Continent!
The best part about studying abroad in Italy is how easy it is to get around the country and even around Europe! During my semester abroad I visited Germany twice, Croatia, Greece, Belgium, England, Ireland, France and, of course, traversed all over Italy!
I had friends who never left Italy and there were even some people who never spent a single weekend in Italy. Some of my classmates even ventured to Africa and visited Morocco.
Air and train travel is super cheap and convenient in Europe. You’ll make so many wonderful memories! And this isn’t limited to Europe! Writing this post from Taiwan, their universities have programs for foreign students. Think about your destination and get to researching!
You’ll Make Lasting Friendships
This is cheesy (ah formaggio!), I know but it’s true. I’m no social butterfly and I went to Arezzo not knowing a single person in my program. I was told months in advance who my roommates would be and, sure, I added them on Facebook, but being the introvert I am I never made contact until we met in Italy.
It turns out my roommates in Italy would become my best friends. We supported each other through homesickness and school. We ate dinner together, went on trips together and just enjoyed our lives in Tuscany together!
The program I was in had about 30 students of just people from the University of Oklahoma so we got to know everyone, even if just a little. If you participate in a bigger program then you’ll have even more of a chance to meet new and great people!
Learn a New Language
I took two semesters of Italian before studying abroad in Italy that was my freshman year. I didn’t study abroad until my junior year. I was rusty, to say the least! Living in a foreign country and taking language lessons while I was there improved my Italian beyond anything I had hoped for.
Unfortunately, I’m out of practice nowadays but I still brush up on it through apps like Duolingo. If you don’t want to take a class and your degree doesn’t require it then you should definitely look into learning the language before you go. Try using Memrise or Duolingo!
Knowing a second language can open so many doors for you once you’ve graduated. Sure, some languages can be more useful like Chinese or German but that doesn’t mean you should pick study abroad programs for that reason alone.
Immersion is the best way to learn!
Get Outside Your Comfort Zone
This is one of the best and simplest benefits of studying abroad. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than studying abroad and I mean that in the best way possible! I had to make new friends, speak a language I barely knew and figure out a whole new way of living. I grew as a person because of it!
I’m not the same person I was before going to Italy. My experience taught me to have more patience, courage and gave me more independence.
Are These All of the Benefits of Studying Abroad?
Most definitely not! There are so many benefits but this post has to end at some point. All in all, studying abroad is an eye-opening experience and there’s nothing like immersing yourself in another culture! Don’t wait until you land that job after college when it’s more difficult to see the world. If you have the chance to study abroad, take it! You will not regret it!
Have you studied abroad? Comment below about some benefits to studying abroad that you’ve found! Thinking about studying abroad? Comment or contact us. We’d love to help! You can also check out our tips for studying abroad.