Many people will have different reasons as to why doing a semester or year studying abroad is an option for them or not… for me it was a definite 100% as it opens so many doors for you in the present moment and future life.
In this blog I will be talking about my top 5 reasons to study abroad, giving you some useful information and tips on how to decide whether it is for you or not.
Firstly, I knew I wanted to study abroad as I have an interest in travelling and I have always dreamt of studying in the USA. However, there are lots of other reasons why I thought studying in a different country for at least a semester would be a great idea.
1. Meet new people & build new relationships
I have always been an extrovert, so meeting new people and making lots of different connections without fear has always been my thing. Having numerous networks around the world is a great asset to have; it can allow you to have international friends, travel buddies and potential work opportunities, therefore it’s a no brainer.
If I didn’t go through with studying abroad I would never have met the amazing people I have, or travelled to the fascinating locations with them. Studying abroad allows you to explore not just study 😉
The friends that I have made have definitely made my time here worth it and shown me that it is possible to have international relationships that’ll last, due to the strong connections made.
2. Experience different cultures
One of the main reasons I travel is to become more cultured and learn to understand how others live life differently to myself. I enjoy experiencing new ways of life; gaining knowledge about the difference in culture and how we can work together.
Coming to San Diego, I have been given the opportunity to experience LOTS of different cultures, not just American culture (which may I add, is surprisingly different to the British). I have been able to experience Spanish, Irish and Japanese to name a few - through living here but also via the events that SDSU hold. Every Friday SDSU has “coffee hour” which allows international students to educate others about their culture, giving out samples of their national foods, drinks and discussion. (This is really fun & a great opportunity to make friends).
However, these events are not the only ways I have gotten to experience different cultures – again, I have through meeting people at social events, orientation day, joining a fraternity, completing volunteer work and my living arrangements. Some of the friends I have made are from Norway, Germany, Scotland, Ireland, Brazil, America, Sweden, Switzerland, Korea, Denmark and Netherlands – therefore this gives you a view on how many different people you can come into contact with just through going out and enjoying yourself.
3. Seeing different places
Being located in California has allowed me to visit different places I have always dreamed of visiting, like Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Mexico. Before studying abroad I aimed to visit as many states as possible, however since arriving and making friends who have different ambitions I have decided to stay within California and enjoy as much as the West Coast as possible.
Living in San Diego also easily enables me to travel to Mexico very cheaply. Some of the friends I have made are under 21 and therefore are unable to legally go out to the clubs in the USA – encouraging us to go and party in Mexico instead 😉… We've headed to Tijuana, Rosarito and Cancun. So far it has been nothing but fun, excitement and little bit of student craziness.
Whether you decide to study in the USA or not, you will find that you will get to see at least one other destination different to the one you’re studying in. I have known and seen other students who’re studying in Australia and Vietnam visiting different places; expanding their cultural knowledge and experience. (However, if you do decide to just stay in the city you study in, there’s no pressure to go exploring, as the place you’re currently situated in will have countless opportunities to experience different locations within it).
4. Experience different teaching & learning
Learning within the USA is a completely different experience to learning in the UK for a number of reasons. Both have their positives and negatives. But what this experience has taught me so far is that I have taken Leeds Beckett for granted. Being an international student may feel harder than it actually is as you’re learning in a completely different environment to what you’re used to. However, this system is not what I had expected, but I kinda like it.
Some of the learning styles I've experienced in the USA are:
- Weekly tests – keeping me on track with my studies & sustain my knowledge. Yet they can put a lot of pressure on you as you still want to travel, socialise & have chill out time. You just have organise your time and you’ll be fine.
- Multiple choice exams – for me this is easy as the answer is one of the four on the page, however you still have to work hard to get those answers correct.
- Pop quizzes, Assignments, Response Papers and Readings – can all get on top of you if you’re being asked to complete them every week from each of the five classes. Yet, I see it as a good thing as it keeps you in line and focused on your studies… just be prepared for a large work load and you’ll be fine.
Wherever you decide to study, it will be different to what you’re used to; so be prepared and go in with an open mind. If you make time to study and talk to your professors about things you’re unsure about then you will be a success and pass your academic year for sure!! If this way of teaching isn’t for you, then I would pass on the USA education system and perhaps try out Australia as it may be a little more similar to the UK.
5. Adapting to change can develop your maturity
Studying abroad allows you to adapt to change. In life you experience lots of different situations that are unusual to you and out of your comfort zone – but that’ll help you grow as a person and develop independence like never before. You’re forced to deal with the change, and familiarise yourself with it. However, this is not to say that you won’t meet others that are from the same country as you. I have met some great people from Scotland that have experienced the same cultural shock and therefore I automatically feel connected and less like an alien. But we’ve all learnt to deal with the change, accept it for what it is and enjoy it while it lasts.
It’s really important that you try and enjoy your study abroad experience and make the most out of it as you can. Before you know it, it’ll be over and you’ll wish that you were back in the destination you chose. Enjoy. Live in the moment. Relish in the culture.