The Value of Studying Abroad

By Kaitlin Hurtado on June 18, 2017

College students and graduates cite their time spent studying abroad as what they loved most about their college experience. I honestly have never heard someone speak ill of their experience abroad, mainly because more good comes out of the experience of studying abroad than bad.

If you find yourself hesitating to commit to studying abroad, whether it be time issues, financial situations, or personal hesitance, read on to learn more about the value of studying abroad.

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Experience a new place

This goes without saying. However, if you find yourself studying at a college near your hometown or in an area that is a near replica of where you are from, you can still feel like you are lacking the opportunity to experience a new place. You may be living on your own, but there won’t be much else to experience (culture, language, etc.) if you’re in a similar setting to where you grew up.

The idea of experiencing new things in a completely unfamiliar place may seem daunting, but keep in mind how much you can grow as a person just by gaining new experiences. You get to firsthand see how another culture works, you get to eat dishes prepared by chefs that grew up eating them and learned how to cook from their own families, and you get to practice a foreign language every day.

If you go to school near home, studying abroad will definitely give you a better experience when it comes to discovering and getting to know a new, foreign place than simply going to college did.

Immerse yourself in another culture

Of course, you can get to know new people and their own cultures during your time in college. However, you can’t just attach yourself to any one person and expect them to teach you everything you want to know and expect yourself to take everything in right away. The best thing you can do is take the plunge and study abroad to learn a new culture.

You will be experiencing daily life yourself, getting to know the place’s menu, cultural practices, and language. It may push you out of your comfort zone — in fact, it probably should — but you shouldn’t be turning down an opportunity to experience something that you would never be able to experience back at home.

Learn another language

This will depend on where you decide to study abroad. If you go to a place where you are already fluent in the language that they speak, you won’t be getting the full experience of learning a new language, but it will definitely test your fluency when put up against native speakers.

If you’ve only taken classes for a foreign language, it is likely you haven’t gotten a lot of opportunities to speak it outside of the classroom or in in-depth conversations. How else can you become fluent if you are already done taking courses for the language? Actually go somewhere where everyone also speaks it, which forces you to practice the language in conversation. You have to rely on your ability to navigate in an unknown place and ask for directions back to your hotel or to a tourist hot spot, but also form connections with locals in an unfamiliar setting.

Many have gone to a country where they are only able to hold small, simple conversation in the language of the country, but leave their study abroad experience fluent or near fluent. They were able to use the language every day, and more importantly, from people who actually speak it every day. Learning a language from having countless conversations based on the language will give you a better grasp on the language and slang that textbooks won’t teach you.

Appreciate what you have back home

When you have had something for all of your life, you tend to not put much thought into it until the moment comes where you don’t have it. You may think that you appreciate your family now, but once you are in a foreign country studying abroad alone, you will cherish any five-minute phone call or letter you get from a family member.

When you’re experiencing a new culture, you are bound to draw comparisons between what you are currently experiencing and what you had back home. Of course, there are going to be things you love more about the place you are studying abroad, but you will also come to miss and appreciate the culture you grew up from — whether it’s home cooked, traditional meals or special family gatherings.

By Kaitlin Hurtado

Uloop Writer
Hello! I'm Kaitlin. I studied Literary Journalism and Film & Media Studies at UC Irvine. I'm a writer on Uloop's national team and a campus editor for UCI.

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