Should You Study Abroad?

Lucia Andrades, Contributor

Globalization has become a reality, and American college graduates lack the international experience, language capabilities and cultural communication skills necessary to succeed in this global economy with only about 10 percent of students studying abroad at some point in their academic career.

“I think that many people are hesitant about studying abroad because of a matter of trust, or really, lack thereof. Staying in your comfort zone and not willing to stretch across that line is easier than being in the unknown,” sophomore Nadia Reaves said. “Fear only takes away these amazing opportunities. You’ll never be able to get anywhere in life if you’re too scared to try.”

However, the number of American students studying in foreign countries is increasing more and more. They are beginning to recognize on their own the benefits of experiencing other places, languages and cultures for their professional and personal lives.

“Studying in another country is a great opportunity to learn, you leave not knowing much at all and you come back as an educated person in that certain culture,” freshman Sydney Monarck said. “Opening up to new cultures is something exciting that I want to experience.”

Students who are fully immersed in cultures abroad are better prepared to work in the global labor market. They become strategic thinkers and problem solvers, and excellent communicators in more than one language. Besides, skills such as tolerance, understanding, and appreciation for the arts and social issues develop, gaining more insight into themselves and their lives. All that makes them more marketable for top jobs.

“This experience as an exchange student in the United States has not only given me the opportunity to learn about the American culture and the language but to meet new people and to have fun,” German exchange student Arvid Kühl said. “I also learned how important the time with friends and family at home is. Though I miss them, it is worth it.”

Given such factors, participation in study abroad programs, particularly by minority students and women, should continue to grow as globalization has come to stay.

“Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity for individuals who want more out of education, and want a more hands on and personal experience,” Reaves said.