Can You Study Abroad Regardless of Your Major?

By Elise Nelson on February 5, 2018

If you know anyone who has enrolled in a study abroad program, then you’ve probably heard countless testimonials about how beneficial the experience can be. You may have heard about the benefits so much that you’ve considered going abroad yourself.

The problem is, you aren’t a language major. You don’t study fashion. You aren’t learning about international relations. So, does your major warrant a study abroad trip?

The answer is yes—a study abroad trip is always warranted. Here’s why studying abroad will benefit you regardless of your major.

STEM majors

Science, technology, engineering, and math majors are typically under the impression that study abroad courses will offset their programs. However, studying abroad as a STEM major will actually be beneficial in the long run and make students more marketable.

You will stand out to employers as someone who can work on a global scale when you choose to study abroad. List your study abroad program on your resume and discuss your experience in interviews. Many companies in technology and engineering fields conduct international business, so they will be seeking employees who are comfortable traveling.

If you’d rather study major courses at your college, you can always fulfill some general education requirements while you study abroad. Take a break from studying for biology tests and instead indulge in your other interests overseas. Don’t worry about the credits—they will transfer easily, and you’ll stay on track to graduate.

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English/Communications majors

Study abroad programs will no doubt teach you how to communicate better. You’ll be exposed to a myriad of obstacles, from language barriers to culture shock. No matter the communications track—marketing, journalism, or digital media—you will be able to take classes abroad and learn how to incorporate new cultures into your work.

As an English major, you’re constantly searching for new inspiration. Sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes to overcome writer’s block. What better change of scenery can you find than a different country? Fully immerse yourself in your study abroad program. Eat strange foods, visit famous landmarks, and study the country’s literature. You will have new ideas on the brain within days of starting your journey.

The networking you will do abroad as an English or communications major can help you travel later. Find new friends, whether it be a peer, professor, or employer, and stay in touch. Should you choose to return to their country for more inspiration, you might find a place to stay with them or even a new opportunity for your career.

Art/Art History majors

There’s no better way to study the art of other countries than by visiting those countries yourself. See where the most famous paintings were created or visit popular architecture. Seeing pictures will never do the real things justice.

You can also create art through the eyes of the foreign art movements that you’re studying. Try your hand at different techniques and you might find a new favorite.

There are several fine arts schools that you can enroll in for your study abroad program. While abroad, you can complete research projects on well-known artists. You’ll be studying more than just the art—you’ll be able to see what influenced the art. You can see where the artists became inspired, and hopefully find some inspiration yourself.

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Education majors

As a budding teacher, it’s important to understand as many cultures as possible. You want to connect with your students and having knowledge of other cultures as well as your own will help. You need to be prepared to educate your future students on diverse topics.

Studying education abroad will also provide you with professional development. Other cultures have different school systems—becoming familiar with these systems may lead you to find a new teaching method that works best for you.

If you want to teach, you should know how to learn, and this will mean fully engaging in your studies. Take advice from foreign teachers and observe their methods. Become one of their students. If you have the opportunity to student teach, do so.

Take what you learn with you back to the States and apply it to your own future classroom. You may even be able to go abroad again as a teacher!

Criminal Justice majors

Much like with education, criminal justice systems vary country to country. When you study abroad as a criminology major, you’ll see the differences between the systems of other cultures versus the American system, and in turn, you may grow to understand the American system more.

Studying abroad can also put your technical skills in historical context. You may find ways in which the American criminal justice derives from other cultures or discover the origins of the oldest systems. This knowledge can only better you as a lawyer, police officer, judge, etc.

“I can’t study abroad with my major” is no longer an excuse for staying home. You can study anything on your trip abroad, and the experience will be something you can never obtain in a classroom.

By Elise Nelson

Uloop Writer
Elise is a senior at Albright College in Reading, Pa, studying journalism. She hopes to pursue a career in feature writing and editing for a magazine. Much of Elise's time is dedicated to being Editor-in-Chief of Albright's student newspaper, The Albrightian. She is also a member of Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society, and co-hosts a radio show on WXAC 91.3 FM.

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