6 Amazing Benefits of Studying Abroad
When you ask someone about their long-term goals and dreams, so many people mention travel. Traveling to different parts of the world is on a lot of bucket lists, and yes, it can be fun, thrilling, and educational; but, there are so many more benefits to traveling abroad!
You may see the sites while traveling abroad on vacation or you may enroll in an abroad program through your school. But if you want to really immerse in a different culture and create a positive impact during your travel, then a gap semester might be an even better choice.
Global Citizen Year offers a gap semester abroad called Take Action Lab where you immerse in a new culture and apprentice with experienced changemakers working for social justice and environmental sustainability. (And, no you do not have to be an enrolled college student to participate!). Whatever your interest or goals, you can enrich your life and contribute to something bigger than yourself by traveling abroad. If you’re trying to decide if the money and time it takes to travel are worth it, here are some of the benefits of international travel.
6 Benefits of Traveling Abroad
1. Immerse Yourself in a Different Culture
Within every country, region, or even a single community, you’ll find a wide-variety of cultures, and those cultures shape the values, rituals, behaviors, and worldviews of people around the globe. By engaging with a culture outside of your own, you can open your mind and discover the value of connecting with people who have a completely different lifestyle from you.
Experiencing life in a different country can help you learn different languages, ways of life, and realities by immersing yourself in another culture. You may find many similarities in your shared human experience, and you may also discover more layers to your own experience and privileges by stretching your worldview. You will expand your horizons while developing your knowledge and understanding of the world and different people, which can only be done on a deep level through personal, real-world education.
Learning from other cultures can also help you better understand your own culture, both the attributes you love and others that you want to evolve. With increased compassion, self-reflection, and appreciation, you can augment your own life and perspective by engaging with a new culture. Your newfound cultural awareness that you gained firsthand will serve you for the rest of your life, adding to your cognitive and creative depths.
Plus, new cultures are fun, too! Participating in completely foreign cultural activities is exciting and gives you something new to explore. This gets you out of your comfort zone (we like to call this your stretch zone!) and also gets you out of the drone of regular life. Culture is deeply important to people all over the world, and by trying to understand and experience a new one, you are not only going to experience growth but enjoyment and amazement as well.
2. Learn About Yourself
Funnily enough, it is often by getting away from your typical life and focusing on something outside of yourself that you discover your most authentic self. Getting out of your comfort zone doesn’t just help you understand others; it helps you learn more about yourself and your own lifestyle, values, and priorities.
Step out of your daily routines by surrounding yourself with new people and places and see what that unlocks in you. You may realize just how important community is to you or that you want to foster greater camaraderie among your peer group at home. Perhaps you discover an affinity for language or connecting with others that inspire you to apply for that internship or job you’ve been eying. Maybe stepping away from the stress of your normal life gives you more perspective and inspires you to slow down and appreciate life. traveling abroad is one of the best ways to learn about who you are as an individual and how you want to contribute to the world around you. The social impact you can have through serving in a community can help you discover the kind of person you want to be. By exploring the historical, social, and cultural elements in a new place, you can better understand your own identity, privileges, biases, and potential.
Especially if you are young and still unsure of what you want to do with your life, traveling is a great way to expose yourself to new ideas and figure out just what direction you should go. Instead of spinning your wheels, you can take a gap semester to learn more about what you’re passionate about, what matters to you, and how you want to add to the community around you.
3. Gain New Skills
When you think of lifelong valuable skills, you may think of leadership, communication, or conflict resolution. But, most of these skills are gained outside the classroom. To have a balanced skillset you have to broaden your horizons in terms of how you experiment with learning. You can gain new skills by going somewhere new and doing something completely different. Even doing simple tasks like asking for a favor at a store in a different language engages your brain and boosts your confidence as you try new things.
Practicing a new language is just one skill you can seriously develop while traveling abroad. Other skills you can focus on include:
- Time management
- Body language
These skills can seriously bolster your resume or college application—not only can you say you’ve traveled abroad, but you can also talk about your hands-on experiences and provide specific examples of these skills you’ve developed. People skills are invaluable in college, the workplace, and life!
Learning how to connect with others and get out of your comfort zone is a skill in and of itself that will impact you as you meet new people in normal life. Being abroad allows you endless learning opportunities and skill development!
4. Networking Opportunities
Developing skills isn’t the only way that traveling abroad helps you in your professional life. Global Citizen Year provides a unique Take Action Lab experience that allows you to immerse yourself in a new culture and apprentice at a human rights organization to learn how to tackle global issues from the ground up. Navigate real-world challenges and contribute to the positive impact being made in Cape Town, South Africa and around the world.
Network with like minded professionals and other motivated individuals. The networking you do during your time abroad is designed to create leaders who are part of a global network committed to positive change. You have the opportunity to connect with peers as well as current leaders who are inspiring problem solvers in today’s world.
Making lasting bonds with the people around you is one of the best impacts you can make as you navigate your own goals and impacts. You may engage in volunteer work and make lifelong friendships with people who want to continue serving and learning from other communities. You may also make connections with leaders that can become great references and mentors. Either way, you will have all kinds of networking opportunities as you travel and meet new people.
5. Create Memories
The memories you make while you travel are memories that last a lifetime and will be great reminders of the good you’ve done, the things you’ve learned, the impacts you’ve made, and the impacts you’ve felt. The sights you see, the food you try, the people you meet, the communities you serve, and the friends you make will create a vivid and meaningful core experience that could even change the course of your life. We’ve all heard the advice:
“Do the things that scare you.”
“There’s no time like the present.”
“Don’t wait to live—live the life you want now.”
It’s through this kind of advice that we create the most significant memories. The depth and enjoyment that comes with traveling abroad is an irreplaceable and unparalleled experience that sticks with you. Be sure to document your travels so you can look back at all the fun and culture you experienced abroad—the pictures you take will be a priceless part of your life story and can add meaning to those around you, too. Whether you share it with your close family and friends or with thousands of people on the internet, those memories testify to the rich experience you’ll never forget, which may even inspire others.
6. Make New Friends, Globally
Outside of your formal networking, traveling abroad is also a prime opportunity to connect with others and create friendships you would otherwise never have. You meet new people every day when you are abroad, and the global companionship you can foster is a worthwhile pursuit.
Immerse yourself in the rich culture and create global friendships, and you may find yourself with a much larger social circle. Many people become deeply connected with the culture and community they visit and end up with several pen-pals after traveling. These friendships and connections often become invaluable, both in terms of personal fulfilment and future opportunities!
Get the Most Out of Your Traveling Experience
The thought of being in a new country can be daunting to some, but the benefits are never-ending. Even if travel can feel intimidating, it’s also exciting and rewarding, especially if you’re thoughtful about selecting a program that aligns with your goals. Immersing yourself in different cultures and developing new skills helps you grow as an individual, and that growth will help you approach college, your career, and life with purpose and the power to make a positive impact.
If you are going to dedicate the time, money, and effort to travel, you want to make every penny count! There are resources out there, such as Global Citizen Year, that can help you find travel abroad experiences that not only offer excitement, but also enrichment and learning. Whether through scholarships or your own funds, the benefits of traveling abroad can change your life for the better.
Go abroad with Global Citizen Year where the opportunities to learn and grow are endless. If you want to learn more, request more information today!