Some people argue that ‘Study Abroad’ programs are not as successful as often assumed. To assess this statement, one should better comprehend what the term ‘Study Abroad’ means. According to Purdue University (2015), ‘Study Abroad’ is any arrangement that allows a student of a university to complete a part of their degree program, participating in educational activities outside their native country (para. 2). Such activities include in-class actions, internships, service-learning, and work-study agreement. Although ‘Study Abroad’ programs may have some disadvantages and limitations, they are the key to success since they allow students to learn new languages, appreciate other cultures, and improve their understanding of the world.
‘Study Abroad’ allows students to learn new languages and find friends of greater diversity. Learning foreign languages impacts students’ cognitive and problem-solving skills, memory, and future career positively. Thus, if students live in a “host family” or a dorm, they have more chances to learn a new language than those who live in a separate apartment (Study.com, 2018). Such students will easily establish new connections and enhance their ability to multi-tasking, which is useful for their professional development. Finally, learning foreign languages improves decision-making skills, making learners seek hidden meanings and proper translations of foreign words and expressions. All these skills and connections will contribute to ‘Study Abroad’ students’ career paths and open better opportunities for them.
In addition, ‘Study Abroad’ programs teach students to appreciate new cultures and see their own cultures from other people’s perspectives. Study abroad teachers affirm that one of the goals of such programs is “to train future global leaders to be more effective, respectful of other cultures and political and economic systems, and willing to take a stand for the world’s welfare” (Dwyer & Peters, 2004, p. 56). With the development of international businesses and culturally sensitive work environments, culturally competent leaders will always be in demand. If students want to work in their home country, these skills will allow them to understand better their personal cultural biases and beliefs (Dwyer & Peters, 2004, p. 56). Moreover, if a student dreams of a successful international career, ‘Study Abroad’ will be a perfect start for them.
Last but not least, ‘Study Abroad’ programs enhance students’ understanding of the world. Dwyer and Peters (2004) report that 82 percent of students develop a more sophisticated world vision during their study abroad (p. 56). They learn to be independent and adjust to novel, unknown conditions. Students with such an experience will become well-rounded individuals who can interact with people of different nationalities and cultures. Moreover, they will gain new experience and learn how to apply this experience in their native country. Students will embrace the unknown and will not be afraid of changes in the future. They will appreciate diversity and be more open-minded than their peers who did not have such an experience. Studying abroad is the best choice for those who want to change their worldview and become strong, independent, and have multiple personalities.
At the same time, ‘Study Abroad’ programs have some disadvantages. For example, Kenny (2019) argues that studying abroad may lead to culture shock (p. 87). Students may fail to adapt to a new culture and get depressed eventually. At the same time, culture shock may be beneficial to many students, making them more confident and socialized. Even though studying abroad is not an option for some students, it will positively affect most students who are willing to participate in international educational programs.
Dwyer, M., & Peters, C. (2004). The benefits of Study Abroad. Transitions Abroad, 27(5), pp. 56-57.
Kenny, A. (2019). Is Study Abroad for everyone? Journal of Intercultural Education, 18(4), pp. 87-93.
Purdue University. (2015). Study Abroad definition. [Online] Purdue University. Web.
Study.Com. (2018). What is study abroad? – Definition & benefits. [Online] Study.com. Web.