No matter your age or program of study, there are hundreds of reasons to study abroad. Of course the obvious reason is it’s fun and a once in a lifetime experience, but did you know it helps you grow academically, professionally, and personally too?

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Learn about different cultures, histories, geographical regions, languages, and traditions. While studying abroad you not only learn what it taught in the classroom, but you are able to experience it personally. Learn about and experience the culture and history of Ireland or Germany. Talk with locals to learn about their traditions, holidays, government, and language. Experience how Irish businesses differ from American businesses, experience the difference between Bavarian and Saxon cuisine in Germany.

Professionally

Even if your program of study is not the main focus of the trip abroad, you gain more transferable skills than you realize. While abroad you are leaning to work with people from different backgrounds and cultures. You are learning how to adapt to a new setting, and adjust to a different way of living. All of these skill are beneficial in the work environment.

You are able to put your study abroad program on your resume and talk about your experience in an interview. When you’re asked to “Describe your communication skills and how you work in a group,” you can talk about your experience with your group abroad, how you helped them adapt to the new environment, how you led your group through the subway system, how you communicated with your host family that did not speak English very well, or even how you ordered food at a restaurant that spoke no English. Prepare for a workforce where companies have offices on other continents. No matter the focus of your program abroad, those transferable skills make you stand out from the competition and make you a more global candidate.

Personally

Experience another culture and see different ways of living. Most other countries don’t live the way we do in the US. Talk with locals while abroad and learn about different perspectives and ideas. Live with a host family and experience their way of living, sleeping, eating, and communicating. Interact with people who hold different world views. Adapt to change and new systems, from transportation to markets, menus, and customs. Through your experiences with study abroad, increase your confidence and open mindedness. Your travels and experiences become part of your identity and help you become a better person. Take a chance, leave the country, and come back a changed person.

One student who participated in the German Exchange program last year had this to say about studying abroad, “That’s the main reason to participate, to expand your horizons; to experience different cultures, foods, landscapes, history. To see the actual rather than reading  about it or seeing  it on TV or hearing about it. Immerse all five senses yourself- there is nothing better.  What people need to do is ask questions,  ask for clarification if you don’t understand. This is an opportunity to get out of the box, you will learn a lot about yourself and others, the differences and similarities. The best is making new friends, sharing ideas and world views. The one specific detail that Americans are not use to is transportation. We drive everywhere, Germans walk, ride bikes, take buses, trams, trains and walk, walk,walk- it’s very liberating and tiring.”

Many people are deterred from studying abroad because of the cost, but the benefits of study abroad definitely outweigh the costs. There are also opportunities to help with the cost including scholarships and fundraising. I personally have studied abroad to England, Costa Rica, Brazil, and India and carry those experiences with me every day. Looking back I don’t think about the money spent, I think about the people I met, the cultures I’ve lived in, the skills I’ve learned, and the person I am today because of those experiences.

If you are interested in learning more about study abroad and the programs we have available here at Moraine Park, please email Corey Foster at cfoster2@morainepark.edu.

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Written by Corey Foster
Experiential Learning Intern