A good student experience should push and prod your mind, body and soul in interesting directions and help you think about the wider world, whatever your subject. Here are ten ways your degree should encourage that, to help you assess any course you're interested in...
By giving you cultural fluency
Every nation does things differently – the US and UK even disagree on how to use a fork. It's the same in business, scientific research, the arts...you name it. A globally-minded degree will help you prepare you for all this glorious variety and to understand and interpret different cultural practices in different situations.
By introducing you to an international group of friends
There's a good chance that you'll meet your friends for life (and maybe even your partner for life) at uni. A degree – and institution – with broad horizons can introduce you to students from all over the world, so you'll learn about their cultures and experiences first hand while explaining to them why we're all so weird about Marmite in the UK.
By offering non-Western perspectives on the world
It's good to step away from your preconceptions of the world and see it as other cultures and societies do. A globally conscious degree will give you those insights so you're not just seeing things from one point of view.
By opening up global employment opportunities
You could take the Paddington bear approach and arrive in a different country with a sign around your neck reading 'Please employ this graduate', but we can't guarantee it'll work. On the other hand, a degree with an international focus – like a South Asian or Japanese studies programme - can connect you to careers in everything from business to politics.
By helping you improve your language skills
Speaking a different language will help you work in other countries (and order coffee the way you like it while you're at it). You don't have to study a languages degree: many unis encourage students to learn a language alongside their studies and have dedicated centres to help them, while others build language study right into their degree programmes.
By offering specialist resources
Unis can offer you time with the top minds in a particular field or set you loose in some of the best facilities in the country, so you can explore theories and thought from all over the world. That might be a cutting edge research lab or a giant library filled with items written in hundreds of languages, both of them attracting international researchers and scholars. (Which is helpful for learning, and also for playing nationality bingo.)
By giving you insight into a particular region
If you're interested in a particular part of the world (you might need to be more specific than 'anywhere warmer than wretched Autumnal Britain') the right degree will help you home in on it, whether you're intrigued by its arts, languages, law, social sciences or anything else. If you already have a region in mind, get researching and get on our forums to find places that offer specialist teaching. London's SOAS has expertise in the Asian, African and Middle Eastern regions for example.
By encouraging you to be a part of the Students Union
Your Students Union will be home to all manner of clubs, societies and events that will form the bedrock of your social life. It can also offer an opportunity to get political, whether you run for a Union position or get involved in campaigns, protests or charity events. It's all good for your CV as well as helping you engage with the wider world beyond your studies and perhaps bring about meaningful change.
By teaching you to think critically
We're not just talking about pondering exactly why you feel the way you do about Bake Off (although at some point we all do). Thinking critically means wrestling with questions around democracy, social change, poverty and more, and we're going to need graduates who keep asking those questions as the world gets increasingly complex.
By being interesting
Your uni and degree experience should prepare you for much more than balancing a funny hat on your head and walking across a stage. So make sure it's going to expose you to an international student cohort, a varied social life and a vibrant, stimulating community both on and off campus. Go on some open days, ask some questions and get ready to let the world in...