Studying abroad is a unique opportunity to interact with a foreign culture in the most comfortable and effective way. The experience that students receive abroad is always heterogeneous and eclectic. It differs depending on the chosen country, university, educational program or method of study. In this regard, it seems not surprising that the practice of studying abroad, despite the predominantly positive responses, still receives a somewhat contradictory and ambiguous reaction from the public. The assertion about the controversial benefits of studying abroad needs additional clarification, since there are factors that, if taken into account, could significantly facilitate any such experience.
The eclecticism of foreign education means the difference in programs and the level of student involvement in different practices. Therefore, a student can not only attend classes at the university, but also participate in various special student initiatives and volunteer projects (Study.com). The depth of student involvement in a new and previously unfamiliar life and activities, however, has its drawbacks. It seems logical to assume that, given the difference in student experiences, one should also listen carefully to those who remain dissatisfied with the experience of studying abroad. Some students, according to survey statistics that Kenny cites, experienced discomfort and disorientation as they adapted to new conditions (2019). A person studying abroad may experience a so-called culture shock, which can lead to learning disabilities and even premature departure from the country.
However, it can be assumed that such a shock could have been caused not by the low level of the quality of education, but rather by the student’s low preparedness for completely new conditions. It can also be suggested that the blame for such negative reviews lies on an illiterate choice of educational program, or a choice made under the influence of society or family. Studying abroad can “come in many shapes and sizes”, so the level of student’s dedication is crucially important for a meaningful studying experience (Purdue University, 2015). Each student who decides to enroll in a foreign program needs to understand the seriousness of this step and set clear goals that this experience should help them achieve.
One can say with certainty that the main thing that students studying abroad get is a unique experience. Studying overseas, regardless of its success, makes an indelible impression on the student. This period is so important that most of the respondents call it “the defining moment in a young person’s life” (Dwyer and Peters, 2004, p.56). Such a test can shape their future attitude to life, influence decision-making and choice of path in life. Therefore, when speaking about the quality of study abroad, it is especially important to take into account the need for qualified preparation of the student himself for this adventure. Last but not least, the level of proficiency in the language of the selected country really matters, since the inability to adequately communicate and perceive information devalues the entire experience of foreign education.
Studying overseas is a challenging and amazing developmental period, and the student must be able to adapt to this new environment, therefore, it is difficult to agree that studying abroad has disadvantages as a concept. A student abroad must be tolerant of other cultures and capable of polite and productive dialogue even before such an experience, not in the process. The culture shock that a student experiences when confronted with differing habits of life can be anesthetized by a fairly rich cultural background. It requires a student’s psychological readiness to face a new and alien, to try to find similar areas between themselves and a representative of another culture. Only through careful selection of the country and program, thorough language and cultural preparation long before the trip, the student can get the maximum benefit for himself as a result of studying abroad.
Dwyer, M. and 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.
STUDY.COM (2018) What is Study Abroad? – Definition & benefits [WWW] Study.Com. Web.