Why Should I Study Internationally?

Studying internationally usually involves traveling far away, leaving your family, and incurring tuition fees that are usually higher than at home where your government might subsidize your education. So why should you do it? There are many benefits to getting your degree from an international university and it may be the most important life decision that you have made to date. The educational choices you make now will set a direction for the rest of your life and will equip you with the skills and outlook you’ll need to be successful in this globalizing world. International experience will allow you to compete for top jobs in your area of expertise … anywhere in the world. Moreover, the whole experience is really fun and something you won’t regret. You will always have the opportunity to move back home and bring your international experiences with you, but you may never get the chance again to open your life to the possibility of a global future through university education. This article provides some reasons why StudentRoads advocates that getting your degree at a foreign university is an investment in you and your future. Studying internationally may not be for everyone but if you do not try it, even at the level of a semester abroad, how will you know what you might have gained?

Personal Growth

Spending an extended period of time in a foreign country often helps one gain an increased sense of maturity, open-mindedness, awareness and self-reliance that students who have never gone abroad just don’t have. You will challenge yourself and find yourself in situations that you were not expecting. You will learn how to solve problems, drawing on your new experiences as well as your education. You will influence other students from other countries, as much as they will shape your experience. Students who pursue an international education are also likely to form lifelong friendships and professional networks with people from all over the world. They create memories that will bond them for the rest of their lives, irrespective of where they are living. While studying internationally isn’t an extended, four-year vacation, it will likely be the most rewarding chapter in your life so far. 

A World-Class Education

Do you want to study and have research opportunities with the professors whose theories you are learning about? What about Nobel Laureates? Many renowned professors are employed at universities where the language of instruction is English. The US and UK have some of the most recognized institutions in the world and publish the bulk of academic literature. However, academic excellence is not limited to native English-speaking countries and there are universities with top professors from all over the world in the Middle East, Hong Kong and Singapore, and other European countries that teach in English. Asia is particularly regarded as an excellent choice for business school as you’ll be immersed in a region with rapidly expanding and evolving economic growth.

Many Foreign Universities Offer Concentrations and Experiences That Are Difficult or Impossible to Find in Your Home Country

If you are interested in a field that is not common in your country or is region-specific you should broaden your search by looking at international universities.  The spectrum of degrees available worldwide is immense and somewhere there is an ideal program for you. For example, if you are interested in geophysics and earthquakes but do not live on the Pacific ring of fire, then perhaps a university in California or Japan will have a great opportunity for you. If you live in a landlocked country but love marine biology, then check out universities in Hawaii and Queensland, Australia where coral reefs can be your research laboratory. Perhaps you are passionate about computer science but there is only a small software industry in your country? Look at universities in the U.S., Israel, Singapore and other centers of high-tech economies. By studying the subject that you are most interested in, at a place where it is prominent, you are giving yourself a competitive advantage in that field. This is true regardless of if you return to your home country or continue living internationally. 

Fluency in English and/or a Second Language

Uniting the worlds of technology, business, finance, and academia; the English language is near universal on a professional level. Certainly, being fluent in English is not going to hurt your life or career prospects. Attaining a four-year degree at an institution that teaches its courses in English will not only allow you a common ground with people from all over the world, but will also arm you with one of the most important and basic requirements for employment in many areas of business or academia. Aside from its most practical values, a side benefit is that fluency in English will allow you to communicate with people in many different countries of in world. It could mean the difference between having to go with a tour group versus being able to travel independently and getting to know local people on holiday. Knowing English will also increase your retweets – if it is important to you that your 140 characters have a global audience. If you already speak English, study internationally and learn another language because being mono-lingual in today’s world is embarrassing.

International Degrees Are Highly Valued by Employers, Both at Home and Abroad

Students who get their degree at an institution abroad have a leg up on their counterparts at home. They are much more likely to land an internship or position immediately post-graduation due to differentiating themselves with an advanced level of experience. Amongst other skills acquired abroad, international students can use their familiarity with other cultures, worldliness, proficiency in intercultural communication, and understanding of the global marketplace and consumer culture as selling points. Moreover, a degree acquired internationally appeals to employers who are looking for candidates with specific language skills and/or cultural awareness to fit into their multinational organization in a global marketplace.

It Is a Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity

If you have the opportunity to get your degree abroad, take it. It is an investment decision and it could be a one-time offer. Life and responsibilities get more complicated as you grow older as flexibility generally becomes more limited. If you do not set yourself in an international direction now then you may not have another chance for a long time (or, at the very least, it requires much more effort). Student visas are typically easier to get than job visas for many desirable countries and it is probably easier to get admission into a university abroad than to get hired by a company in a foreign country where you do not have many connections. Additionally, a university eases your transition by providing an infrastructure for you, including orientation, housing and other student services. Joining a community of other students your age from countries all over the world that are excited by the choice they have made to study internationally is an enriching life opportunity that you will carry with you forever.

[Top image credit: Hemera/Thinkstock; Second image credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock]

© 2012 StudentRoads. All rights reserved. Do not reprint without permission.

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