As an undergraduate, I was always searching for more opportunities and organizations in which to participate. I might have been a little overeager. Considering that my degree was focused on both international relations and political science, it was only a matter of time before I ran across the option to study abroad. I was hooked with the first campus-wide email. Within a semester, I was set to go abroad to London.
The response I got the most from my peers, both before I left and after returning, was “That seems so cool, but I could never go with my major.”
This is one of the biggest misconceptions and possibly a huge bias on the part of students. The secret to studying abroad is to find out about potential opportunities offered by your school earlier rather than later. Knowing which trips are available and when they come up is half the battle. After you find out that vital piece of information, you can figure out how to structure your classes around study abroad. For instance, maybe some of your core classes can be taken abroad (some of which might be substituted for some unique classes).
If you find out about opportunities later in your collegiate experience, don’t fret. Rather, consider whether a study abroad would truly set you back or instead give you a valuable advantage. Sometimes graduating in 4.5 years with some added experiences could prepare you more for the “real world” than keeping to a strict timeline. And honestly, ever major should study abroad.
Now most students think humanities majors get the best opportunities because all they do is lay around and read. Science students, granted, do have labs as well as many hands-on activities and tests that are integral parts of their collegiate process. However, science, math, and computer science students can and will benefit from study abroad as well.
So what’s the hype?
Obviously, being away from home or being abroad, traveling the world, living in a semester-long Spring Break is any young adult’s dream college experience. Yet, at the heart of the wanderlust there is something more crucial. A study abroad experience, no matter how short or how long, will ultimately challenge your perspective. It will make you a better observer, a greater analyzer, and a creative problem-solver.
Any company looking to hire could use these three skill sets in their workplace and those that have the advantage of finding multiple perspectives climb up the ladder of potential employees. If you have only considered studying abroad for fun or international experience, try re-examining the benefits of placing yourself in a situation that challenges your perception. How does that make you valuable with clients? How about with computer software programs? Business, politics, economic equations, or treatment of culturally diverse patients?
Forget about the stereotype associated with study abroad and take the plunge. Your future employed self might just thank you that you did.
Have you studied abroad? How did it influence your resume and employee skill set?