Five reasons to study abroad

student holding books and standing in front of a world map

Considering studying outside the UK? Here are some of the ways you could benefit from going to university abroad

If you’re weighing up whether you want to stay in the UK for university or you'd prefer to pack your bags and see what else the rest of the world has to offer, it’s worth thinking about all the advantages to studying abroad that you simply wouldn’t get to experience at home.

For a more in-depth look at studying abroad, you can also take a look at our frequently asked questions on the topic.

1. Sharpen your language skills

If you decide to study in a country where English isn’t the first language, you’ll have the chance to totally immerse yourself in a new tongue. Every day you’ll be hearing, reading and speaking the language, so over time you’ll see your ability improve – you may even become fluent.

By having the chance to learn outside the classroom, you’ll pick up words and phrases you ordinarily might not come across.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t study abroad if you only speak English, though – you could consider an English-speaking country such as the USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, or somewhere like the Netherlands where many courses are taught in English.

student sitting outside a museum

2. Learn about new cultures

You’ll be able to take the opportunity to really explore your surroundings and even travel further afield from your base abroad.

You can experience an entirely new way of life, immersing yourself in their society, beliefs and lifestyle choices – try the local foods, listen to new music and get involved in social events for an experience you just couldn’t get while studying in the UK.

In some countries, student culture is very different to the UK – in Italy, for instance, it’s less about going out and getting drunk and more about enjoying a city’s traditions and food.

Equally, in China, students tend to spend more time working and less time socialising and going out at night. A lot of universities even have curfews of around 10.30pm, so students need to make sure they’re home in plenty of time.

Conversely, in Spain, bars and clubs are a prominent feature of student life – going out at 1.30am and not coming home until 5 or 6 in the morning is not uncommon.

group of friends sitting outside on a wall and laughing

3. Make friends all over the world

Studying abroad gives you the chance to meet people and make valuable new friends. Whether you’re bonding with other international students who understand how you’re feeling and can relate to you or you’re getting to know the locals, you’re sure to meet a wealth of people from many diverse backgrounds.

This means you could end up with friends from all over the world – very handy if you ever want to go travelling!

student sitting outside columbia university

4. Experience new academic routines and ways of learning

If you’ve studied in the UK all your life, moving somewhere new could give you the chance to experience an entirely different way of teaching. This will give you insight into your preferred methods of learning, allowing you to discover more about yourself while also gaining your degree.

In Italy, for example, most exams are oral, while university students in the Netherlands sit some closed-book exams but are mainly assessed on their performance in seminars, group work and participation in class discussions.  

Depending on where you go, studying abroad may even give you the opportunity to study more or different subjects – a choice you wouldn’t get in the UK.

In the USA, university students take a wide range of modules across different subject areas for their first year, before settling on a major for the rest of their degree.

university student raising their hand in class

5. Employers love it

Many employers view students who’ve studied abroad as being self-motivated, independent, willing to embrace challenges, easily adaptable and likely to have good language skills.

Studying abroad can help you gain confidence, cultural sensitivity and problem-solving skills – all traits that are sought after by employers.

Plus, if you’ve studied abroad it’s often easier to find a job abroad too, or possibly in the international departments of a UK company.

In a 2017 study, the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES) found that:

  • 68% of those who had studied abroad for more than eight weeks agreed that their experiences directly contributed to a job offer or promotion.
  • More then 70% of respondents said that studying abroad significantly improved their intercultural skills, curiosity, flexibility/adaptability, confidence and self-awareness.

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that just having studied abroad isn’t necessarily enough by itself. Employers will want to know why you chose to study abroad and why decided upon the country you did, as well as what you gained from the experience and your personal development.

If you still have questions about studying abroad, head over to our international study forum. You could also take a look at our country-specific forums for studying in North America, studying in the Netherlands and studying in Australia.

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