Top Ten Reasons to Study Abroad (page 2)
Once you've gotten through the first year at your home university, you probably feel like you finally know all the buildings on campus, can find your way around town, know which professors to avoid, which dining hall is busiest at lunch, and of course, have made plenty of friends. So why leave this cozy little environment you've created for yourself just to go back to being the new kid on the block? Because your experience abroad is definitely worth the few trials and tribulations of starting over!
Think of study abroad as just an extension of your studies at your home university. Your time away should be an integrated part of your four-year undergraduate academic plan. When you go abroad, you will likely take courses that, in some way, build on or add to the courses you are taking at your home university. Study abroad is also a great time to begin independent research projects. Increasing numbers of students conduct research abroad and then work with faculty members when they return to convert their projects into senior theses.
Ready, set, grow!
Studying abroad definitely challenges you on a personal level. Whether you consciously realize it or not, you develop a greater self-confidence, independence, and self-reliance. By the time you return home, you may feel like a super hero: You can do anything!
Studying abroad may be the first time you are truly away from home " all your familiar surroundings here in the U.S., as well as friends and family. While this isn't always easy, most students agree that the benefits of giving up your familiar environment for a short period of time far outweigh the reasons to stay at home. Believe it or not, if you immerse yourself in a new culture, experiment with new ways of thinking, or try a different way of living, you naturally experience some sort of personal growth. After you master your new culture and the abroad academic life, you will return home much wiser and probably slightly impressed with yourself for having had a successful time abroad.
Changing your perspective
If you go abroad with an open mind, then you're certain to return to the U.S. a more enlightened person. One of the major benefits of studying abroad is its ability to broaden your world understanding and perspective on just about anything. You gain a different view of international affairs, from politics to economics to social issues. You also return with a deeper understanding and respect for your host country, knowing how another culture approaches daily life and unusual challenges.
You may also return with a new appreciation for the U.S. Living in another culture can help you understand your own on a deeper level. You may return grateful for the way of life in the U.S., its political system, or its foreign or domestic policies. Through your interactions with your abroad professors, your new peer group, and other foreign or U.S. students on your program, you can find out what others think about the U.S. (and this is usually both positive and negative).
While abroad, a new academic interest or perspective on your major may emerge. Studying at an abroad university allows you to study subjects that aren't available at your home university. For example, I studied Irish History from the years 1500 to 2000 while I was studying in Ireland, a course not offered at my home university. Other U.S. students took classes in Celtic civilization or Gaelic.
You also study familiar subjects but from a different cultural perspective. For example, if you study international relations in France, it will be from a European perspective. Alternatively, studying the U.S. and American history from a different country's point of view can be fun. And, of course, all your classroom learning is enhanced by living in your abroad location and interacting with host families, housemates, roommates, or friends who are native to your abroad country.
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