The benefits of studying abroad are plenty. If you know someone who has studied abroad, chances are they never stop talking about how amazing it was and how it changed their life. Some of it may sound cliché, but it’s true. Studying abroad has loads of benefits like getting to travel, getting access to a higher quality of education than you might’ve gotten at home, impressing your future employers- you’ve heard it all before.
For some international students, the three or four years they spend abroad makes them realise just how much they love it back home, and they go back with a much greater appreciation for how things are back home. Some of them instantly know that they want to live and work abroad after their studies. Others discover their love for travel and exploration, but don’t necessarily want a permanent foreign address.
Studying abroad is a semi-permanent way of testing the waters to see whether a life abroad is the right fit for you. Everyone’s experience is different. You never know how it will affect you until you try it out yourself. Whatever you decide, whatever works for you, by the time you’re done with your studies abroad, you will have gained new skills, enlightened perspectives and a new found lucidity for your future.
Here are 5 ways studying abroad can change you and help you grow as a person:
1. Ability to Expand Your Worldview
A person’s worldview- their beliefs, their values, their attitudes, the way they approach the world both ground and influence their decisions, their thoughts and their actions. Being in the same place for your whole life and being around the same circle of friends you’ve had since kindergarten limits and biases your worldview.
Studying abroad gives you the chance to learn from people who were raised with different cultures, values and beliefs than you, and ultimately have different worldviews. It allows you the chance to look at the world through a different lense that simply visiting a place for a week or two cannot. You will begin to realise that things can just be different- it doesn’t have to be better or worse. Just different.
You will see that the formula for success that you have been fed as a child isn’t the one and only way to go. In the end, you are able to realise what matters to you, and what works for you. Some of your values may change, while the others become stronger than ever. With this new found outlook on life, you are able to re-evaluate your sense of identity and keep your life goals in check.
2. Better Cross-Cultural Awareness & Sensitivity
Studying abroad lets you immerse yourself in a community of people of diverse backgrounds. You will be exposed to a myriad of new things, new holidays, new customs, new religions, new types of food, new approaches to life, new philosophies. This level of exposure forces you to see variety and different perspectives in a more personal and upclose manner.
You become more tolerant of people generally, you learn to understand, respect and accommodate to people’s individualistic differences, learn to see where they are coming from. Developing a sense of how people from other cultures think and feel, you become more compassionate and empathetic.
It’s completely normal to feel a certain level of cultural shock when you initially move to a new country. But this again gives you the opportunity to identify cultural biases you didn’t even realise you had, and free yourself from prejudices. You become aware of issues you may have never considered giving a second thought to. Global issues and events in the world that once seemed so distant, now feels so personal. In the end, you become a better communicator and a more well-rounded person.
Read more: Study Abroad After SPM
3. Greater Flexibility & Adaptability:
During your first few weeks living abroad, you may be the only person you can rely on. The sense of familiarity, control and order that you were used to back home is gone. Everything is coming at you, full speed, and you will find yourself needing to adapt, and fast. Navigating the public transportation system, managing your own finances, making your own doctors appointments, making new friends, learning to order food in a new language, meeting deadlines, all of this can be overwhelming.
But at the end of the day, you are a better person for it. You realise that you are more resilient, more confident, and independent than you ever thought you could be. You are left with a greater feeling of maturity and a sense of self, and just generally more capable of taking on challenges in the future.
Through interactions with people of different backgrounds and cultures, you will learn to be more accommodating towards people’s differences. You will learn to re-evaluate things in a more holistic approach, to think deeper, and from other people’s perspectives before you react to a situation. In general, the way you approach things and the way you see things will change, and you will learn to adjust your expectations, from people, from the world and from yourself.
4. Greater Appreciation for Your Own Culture
As much as studying abroad is an opportunity for you to delve into other cultures and understand it better, it’s also an opportunity for your colleagues abroad to get to know you and your culture better.
This will get you pondering about how your culture is perceived by others. The parts of your culture that you’re most proud of that you want to introduce your friends and share with them. Even the most ordinary things about your country and how you lived, things you never gave a second thought about might be so fascinating for your friends abroad.
Life abroad is also often a crash course on everything you took for granted back home, the smallest everyday things like getting lost on your way home will make you realise how easy things were back home. Ultimately, all of this will make you appreciate where you come from a little bit more.
Read more: How to Further Study in Australia After SPM?
The process of figuring out life abroad is a journey filled with self-discovery. You are free from your everyday responsibilities, distractions and expectations from back home. No one knows your name, no one expects you to live up to a certain standard- you are free from your cultural and familial expectations and norms. You are free to be your own person and discover yourself.
If you decide to take each day as an opportunity to be proactive, you may find yourself doing things you would have never in a million years thought about doing back home or on your own time. You’ll learn to find beauty in change and embrace them instead of shying away from them.
A lot of young adults’ hobbies and interests are based on what their friend groups are interested in- often times it is a compromise of what works for everyone. But now, you are free to pursue what interests you. You may be surprised to know that some of your interests have changed, or to discover an interest in something you never thought about before.
Taking bits and pieces of the behaviours and philosophies from the people around you who are of different cultural backgrounds and upbringings can help solidify you as a person. You may find that these people are doing certain things better than how it’s being done back home, and adapting these perspectives to your own life lays the foundation for you to build your life goals and expectations around it, and achieve your full potential.
If you’re interested in studying abroad, particularly in Australia, do not hesitate to contact us! We will be more than happy to guide you towards the right course and your dream university.
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