Are you thinking of studying abroad next year?
If your answer is yes but you are not sure a 100% yet, here are some things I learned on the way. It might help you understand what this experience will bring you and inspire you to take advantage of it.
After having studied for more than 2 years abroad I decided to sum up the result of those 2 years, to understand what I learned from studying abroad, apart from school. It was quite difficult at first, it’s for some of the knowledge intangible and for some very tangible.
To start, I would say that the predominant thing I learned was languages. It is undeniable that living in a different country will push you and obligate you to learn the local language or improve your current level in this language. There is, in my opinion, no better way to learn fast and efficiently. In addition, people always appreciate when you try your best to adapt.
Secondly, there is the culture. Who knows better about traditions and behaviors of a certain country than the one who lived there? The good thing is that it will be very different from what you experience at home and therefore you will be able to point out everything which is not as it is at home. It will open your mind about the world, accept others as they are and not criticize people for doing things in a different way. And this is quite important, we live in societies where people are coming from different backgrounds and have different educations. Accepting those differences and being able to work around it will help you on so many levels, at work and socially as well.
Curiosity is also something that can be improved. It’s true that it can be seen as a natural trait. However, discovering new places, new people and hearing stories, will give you an urge to learn and discover even more. As a French rapper said, “the world becomes smaller once you start traveling”. Trust me, once you go abroad the only thing you will want to do is to see more and more anytime you can.
There is no place like home
Even though traveling is great, going back home to see your family becomes even greater. As you know those moments won’t last forever.
You will enjoy being surrounded by your loved ones much more than you used to when you saw them every day.
You will appreciate your country more
Living since its childhood in the same country makes forget the good sides of it for a bunch of bad sides (common transportation, administration processes, infrastructures) it might not be the best country but you will learn to enjoy it for what it is and be surprised to miss it when you’re not there.
Develop your critical mind
When you learn about a country, its tradition, culture and its inhabitants, you have a point of comparison between you and them. Understanding that sometimes we make a problem for something not that important, that we finally have not that much to worry about, being able to classify the situations and issues following their gravity, putting things on hold when it’s needed, taking time to focus on things more important than what we used to think paramount. You will learn to enjoy the vivid moment and that it won’t affect your obligation.
You will have stories to tell
Everyone likes to hear about some good and interesting stories. Thus, this will develop your communication skills and help you if you ever need to present a project or explain a topic in front of a jury. Having discussed with different people from so many different backgrounds will make everything that used to seem stressful and complicated way easier.
It gives you more ideas to tackle a problem.Professionally and at school, we face situations concerning several issues. Having learned from people not thinking and prioritizing as you used to can help you to come up with different ideas, with a different approach which could become a great solution. Thinking outside the box is always valued in school as well as at work.
Finally, something that it took longer for me to understand but which I think is one of the most valuable lessons you will ever learn and which will always be useful: Learn to be challenged. Going through the process of going to study abroad is impressive and frightening, but it is definitely what makes it worth. Being challenged is neither comfortable nor easy but it is so valuable, learning to face problems, getting out of your comfort zone forces you to improve yourself as a person, as a student or a worker. As you will solve situations that could have seemed impossible to tackle will empower you, fill you with pride and self-confidence, helping you to face newer problems with calm and method. You will end up feeling so good when you manage to do something that it will become a need, the need to achieve things, to be proud of your journey, of what you accomplished. And this, in addition, to increase motivation, is a feeling I will always look for.
Some of those points served me in my professional life as well as in my social life, sometimes in both. Some seem less important than others and truly are, but in the end, all of them have the same effect, you learn about yourself, you become more and more aware of your possibilities, of who you are as an individual. It gives you better tools to understand what goals you want for your life, what you like and what you don’t.
I could never recommend enough to go abroad, it’s an experience everyone should look for to live and learn from, it changes completely the way we see the world we live in and give a new way to see it. It allows us to become better persons.