The Power of Studying Abroad
- Sjors Kasbergen
- November 7, 2016
- 5,003 views
Have you ever studied abroad? Then you must know how it feels like to adjust to a different culture. Assimilating your own ways with that of a host country can sometimes feel overwhelming, yet rewarding in its own right. It is completely different from your usual vacationing routine. You will see different environments of society that go well beyond the obvious touristic sights. With the increase of people willing to make a leap of faith in studying abroad, one can’t help but wonder: What makes this way of experiencing life overseas so special? Yes, these people must be itching to travel but that can’t be the only reason for them to sail away into a new world. Let’s focus on the interpersonal development side because studying and living abroad is often as far away as you can possibly get from the many habits back at home.
Everything you ever wanted, is one step out of your comfort zone.
Humans are creatures of habit; it is often that we perform a daily routine that isn’t much different one day from another. It is a way to ensure ourselves that we hold the reigns to our lives and who doesn’t like to feel at ease? Most people would prefer the illusion of control, being safely strapped in the driving seat of their own life than risk uncertainty. Uncertainty creates doubt, un-eagerness, and lack of venturing out into the unknown as 99% of the exciting things that happen, happen exactly there!
Be accountable for your own personal growth by experiencing another culture. Unfortunately, taking a stroll to Little Italy or Chinatown does not count but that could be a start. The choices that we make for ourselves such as trying different experiences whether it is cuisines, trips, and cultures can cultivate one’s knowledge in the world in ways of which one cannot find by just being strapped in the driver’s seat. What is evident about studying abroad is that it forces you to go out of your comfort zone. Better yet – it takes you far away from familiarity and shows you a world that is bigger than your own.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “Do one thing every day that scares you”.
Now wait a minute, I am not suggesting you to have a go at eating intestines because it is the local cuisine. Instead smaller things can have the same impact. Try to make a conversation in a different language that you don’t completely know, this is how you learn and develop. People that have gone abroad to study will come back changed. Have a new found acceptance and appreciation for their own country and see it through a different lens. It is common for people to point out the negative experiences, but do keep in mind that when something is no longer accessible it is then one realizes its true significance.
Language exerts hidden power, like the moon on the tides.
More often than not students study abroad to hone their language skills and take it to new levels. There is no better way to learn a language than to completely immerse yourself in the lives of those that speak it natively on a daily basis. Soon you will realize very few things in life actually rival the power and satisfaction of being able to speak a different tongue and communicating with people from another world. Along with it, your confidence will grow and you will find people more receptive, friendly and interested towards yourself. Struggling the first month barely able to order food in a restaurant, a few more weeks and you could surprise the same waiter. Language bonds people together and once you speak a second language with confidence you become a part of another society.
Besides the idea of being forced out of your comfort zone and being immersed in a different culture there are other major benefits towards development and interpersonal growth such as making lifelong friends, finding new interests, being part of a different culture, career opportunities and best of all life experience.
Whether you think you can, or think you can’t. You’re right in both cases.
For instance, North Korea is the only country in the world that is prohibited from globalization. Other than that, there is no denying that we are becoming more interconnected than ever before. Nations are becoming more dependent on each other. Trade is surging, financial markets are interwoven and politics are predominantly about foreign affairs. For countries to stay competitive in this international economy there is no way of hiding behind country lines.
People that study abroad have one huge advantage over those who don’t. They know globalization cannot be stopped, and they are the living proof of the future.