Why study abroad? The many advantages, experiences, and opportunities of travel abroad programs enhance academic learning.

International studies expands your worldview, increases cultural sensitivity, and enhances foreign language skills. Here’s how to get the most out of your study abroad experience.

Be open-minded and expand your horizons

According to Christine B. Harrington in her book Student Success in College: Doing What Works!, 2nd ed: “In a study conducted by Hadis (2005), students who studied abroad reported having a sense of increased independence and being more open-minded. These skills serve you well in all aspects of your life. Living in a different culture can lead to increased knowledge in general and appreciation of others.” Expanding your worldview means that you see and understand how people in other countries and cultures do things and feel about issues. As you learn about other people, you tend to lose some of your biases and prejudices.

Learn language and culture

“Spending a few weeks or months in another country is also the best way to pick up that country’s language and culture,” said Taylor Massey in “Tips for Students: How to Plan for a Study Abroad Program.”

Total immersion is the idea that when you’re in a foreign country surrounded by the native citizens, you’ll absorb their language and culture without your own language and habits to fall back on. Students who study abroad find it easier to learn a foreign language when they are speaking it and reading it every moment of the day. You learn the language in practical, useful settings and situations, and in cultural context.

Learn cross-cultural skills and communication

In an ever-increasing global community of business, politics, and science, American college graduates lack enough international experience, foreign language skills, and cross cultural communication skills.

In the New York Times May 12, 2014 opinion piece, “Every Student Should Study Abroad,” by Allen E. Goodman, president and CEO of the Institute of International Education, and Stacie Nevadomski Berdan, an international careers expert, the co-authors of A Student Guide to Study Abroad said: “Learning how to interact with people from other countries and cultures equips future leaders in all sectors to address urgent issues—from curing diseases and finding energy solutions, to fighting terrorism and hunger—shared across borders.”

Enhance career opportunities

Study abroad looks very good on a resume or college transcript especially for students studying business, politics, and international studies. Travel abroad shows prospective employers that you are open-minded, willing to take risks, willing to learn in a new environment, and able to function outside your comfort zone. It also shows your initiative and ability to work in foreign cultures and situations.

Reference: Harrington, Christine B. 2016. Student Success in College: Doing What Works!, 2nd ed. Boston: Cengage Learning.

Have you considered studying abroad? If so, where would you like to go?