There are many opportunities to study abroad while at university, whether it’s for an optional semester, a mandatory year, or even a whole course. For some subjects, such as a language degree or, for example, American history, time at an overseas institution is an essential part of the course, while for other programmes it’s simply a wonderful chance to try learning, living and playing in a different environment – a life experience not to be missed.
We spoke with our friends over at StudentUniverse, the student travel experts, so if you’re weighing up taking a course where overseas study is part of the degree, here is a rundown of some of the advantages of embarking on a foreign adventure, and tips on how to get the most from your time on foreign shores.
Turn theory into practice by immersing yourself in a different culture
For those reading a subject related to the language, society or history of another country, there’s no experience quite like living and learning in the destination in focus. Regardless of how long you’ve studied a particular language before you go, your skills, fluency and confidence will be taken to a much improved level by being somewhere where you need to speak it conversationally every day for an extended period. And for those not majoring in languages, the chance to develop another tongue as a byproduct of your sojourn is still a huge bonus. Similarly, a much deeper understanding of the history and culture of a place can be developed by studying ‘on the ground’ – even if you’re based in another English-speaking country.
Student Sofia Cher, who spent part of her course in France, said the experience was enormously beneficial. “By living and studying there, I discovered far more about regional expressions and phrases, as well as the French psyche, culture and their perspectives on dealing with other countries – all of which made me understand better how business works in France.”
Make yourself more employable
Being able to include studying and living abroad as an experience on your CV is an eye-catching statement to make to potential graduate employers. You’ve proved that you are capable of stepping out of your comfort zone and taking the initiative. It shows recruiters that you are an adaptable, positive candidate; that you are open to challenges; that you are a person with international qualities in an increasingly global world; and, in many cases, that you are capable of operating in a non-English-speaking environment. You may also open up a whole new jobs market in the country you’re studying in. Many students make links with companies and potential employers while on their overseas placement, whether that’s through taking a part-time job, making friends and local contacts, or through graduate recruitment schemes in that country. For some, a six-month study trip even ends up turning into a long and happy life in another country.
Amazing travel experiences
Without question, one of the greatest benefits of studying overseas is the amazing opportunities it opens up for exploration. Living abroad as a student is possibly the best times you’ll ever have for cheap, adventurous travel. The best fares and discounts you’ll get this side of retirement are available to students, from economical international flights to cut-price tours and attraction visits. And as you’ll be in the chosen country for more than just a two-week holiday, you’ll get to explore it in a much greater depth than on a flying visit. You might also take advantage of your location to travel or tour to other countries in the region. Your new circle of friends will become an excellent source of insider travel tips too, and you’ll get to see and discover places that regular travellers don’t get to experience.
Keep your eyes peeled for travel companies that focus on students and often offer exclusive student discounts to make the most of your budget. One company that does just this is StudentUniverse, we caught up with their Marketing Manager Dan Baker who said "We strongly believe that travel enriches education, and it's incredibly important to us that students should be able to explore their world without breaking the bank."
New perspectives, new friendships
It’s not just language skills that improve when studying abroad – you’re also likely to encounter different approaches towards teaching and learning than you’re used to. You’ll be challenged, positively, with adapting to new ways of doing things, and you might also be able to take advantage of alternative options when it comes to choosing modules and classes.
The new people you meet will have a big impact on your life too. One of the great things about becoming a university student is the new friendships that are quickly formed and long lasting – and when you move abroad the chances are that you’ll make a whole new circle of international friends, some that might last a lifetime.
There’s a good chance too that you’ll become incredibly popular with family and friends from back home. Stay overseas for any lengthy period and you can invariably expect visits from parents, siblings and friends, all wanting to share your experience – and of course take advantage of a friendly local host and perhaps free accommodation.
StudentUniverse is a travel company that provides discounts, rewards, and experiences for students, university staff and youth (18-25). StudentUniverse negotiates student airfares with global airline partners and features discounted rates on hotels and tours all over the world. Start your search at StudentUniverse.