5 Reasons to Study Abroad

# 1: To become more Resilient

This past year has been a challenge for everyone in different ways.  We have all had to be resilient, be flexible, “go with the flow” in all areas of our life.  So why go abroad? To build on these skills.  To be able to learn them in a (hopefully) more fun environment.  To see what you can really do. 

Study abroad can be scary.  Its new, things are different, sometimes you have no idea what is going on and that’s ok!  It’s a good scary– the feeling of pushing your comfort zone and your limits. That is the feeling of growth.  You grow every time you learn how to read a foreign map or street sign… You go out of your comfort zone going into a grocery store abroad and trying to find something to eat… You get lost finding your way back to your flat or going to class. But you are able to ask for help and find your way- resilience. 

This resilience you build up, this confidence you gain the more you learn and grow leads to… Discovery

#2: To Discover New Things

.. New foods

.. New music

.. New favorites

.. Yourself

Traveling provides the chance to try something new, step out of your comfort zone.  You may not like everything you see or do, but you at least explored the option. 

Traveling, especially for an extended period of time, allows you to learn about yourself as well.  On the surface you learn that maybe you can tolerate more spicy food than you are used to.  You find a new genre of music you can’t get enough of.  You find that between you and your friend, they are the better bargainer in the marketplace, but you are better with directions.  You discover another way of life and how to do things.

This can lead to… finding connection

#3: To Find Connection

You bond quickly when studying abroad.  Whether it’s with other students on a group program or meeting the other semester students, you are all in the same (or similar) boat and have that shared experience.  These bonds can last a lifetime. You can find best friends, love, career contacts, a mentor, or all of the above.  These connections also help you understand a new culture, help you adapt and overcome culture shock, and (I feel) most importantly help you gain perspective.

#4: To Gain Perspective

Leaving your norm and looking back, no matter what the circumstances, helps you see things differently.  It gives you a chance to look at your world through a different cultural lens and to also see a different way of life, of doing things.  It’s amazing how the same news story has different sides or can focus on different elements depending on the country you are in.  You will learn traditions, simple day-to-day differences, and more to help you see just how big (and sometimes how small!) our world is.  This helps lead to my final reason to study abroad, to change.

#5: To Change

All of the reasons above really feed into this last reason for any international experience.  Part of higher education is to learn and grow.  Going abroad changes you.  You may not notice it right away, for example the gain in confidence or being better at “going with the flow” or you might find you feel more fluent in a language you are studying or more interested in a topic or region than before.  You might stop and think about other perspectives or cultural lenses when reading a news story or debating a topic.  This is all positive, you are challenging thinking and seeing yourself become a more global citizen.  Embrace this positive change, share your experience with others, and reflect on all that you have learned!

So, to summarize:

There are a lot of things to gain by studying abroad, you experience the above no matter where you go or for how long (though the longer you are able to be abroad the more this all sinks in!). Take the leap and discover what you are capable of and what you can experience, you won’t be disappointed!

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Jemma is the Study Abroad Program Manager and National Student Exchange Coordinator for UW-Green Bay.  She has been part of the UWGB community since 2002, first as an undergrad then working in the Office of International Education in different capacities since 2011. Jemma completed her graduate degree in Intercultural Communication through the University of the Pacific and also spent time teaching English abroad in Ankara, Turkey.  She loves the outdoors, baking, reading, and of course travel!  Jemma studied abroad in college, as part of her graduate degree, and has co-led UWGB travel courses with faculty members.  She has been lucky to travel to about 30 countries (both solo and in a group) in Europe, South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and all over the U.S. and is excited to share her experiences with students!

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