Benefits of Study Abroad from a Communication Perspective
Studying abroad in college is becoming an increasingly more common experience. According to the Institute of International Education, in the 2012/2013 school year 289,408 students studied abroad. This number is steadily increasing each year as much as two percent. There are many benefits to studying abroad in a foreign country from learning a new language to learning more about yourself. I will be highlighting four benefits that I see from the perspective of a communication scholar.
First, I should mention that I had studied abroad twice in undergraduate, double majored in Spanish and Communication and worked as a communications intern at the study aboard office on campus for two years. I am a huge advocate for study abroad experiences at any length of time and I want to help as many students study abroad as possible. The four benefits of a global education I will be highlighting are independence and personal growth, enhanced cultural competence and tolerance, increased understanding of a foreign culture and language, and international networking.
Independence and personal growth
Study abroad is a vulnerable time for students, a time when you can learn a lot about yourself. You can learn about your interests, your values, or even if you’re lucky, what you do or don’t want to do with the rest of your life. During my first study abroad experience I decided that I wanted to study communication, specifically international communication because of the experiences I was having during my time abroad. My time abroad was also a time when I found my independence. I didn’t have my parents to help me figure out my problems, I did it myself and today I am a more independent person because of it.
Enhanced cultural competence and tolerance
Living in another culture can many times be a shock, hence the phrase culture shock. But with that shock comes a new appreciation, an appreciation for the people as well as the culture. Cultural tolerance is very important in our increasingly global world especially in the classroom and the workplace. Having the experience of interacting with people from another culture reflects principles of flexibility, understanding and respect.
Increased understanding of a foreign culture and language
Living in a foreign country, especially for an extended period of time, can increase your understanding of the culture and language. Many study abroad experiences are centered on culture and language. Having this new understanding will also help with your cultural competence and tolerance. Speaking another language is a huge asset in today’s society, especially languages with many speakers like Spanish and Chinese.
This is especially important if you are looking for a job in the international field. Many study aboard programs offer internship opportunities during the course of study. Doing an internship in a foreign country where work customs and conditions are different is a great experience and resume booster. Interacting and becoming friends with the locals is an important aspect of study abroad because you never know the opportunities they could possibly give you.
Although there are many benefits to studying abroad I chose these because of their influence in communication. For more information about studying abroad at UC visit UC International‘s website.