How Does Studying Abroad Help You Academically?

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By Sakina Taher
Last updated on September 22, 2023

Students who have studied abroad during university have described the experience as life changing. From immersing yourself in a new country and culture, making new friends worldwide, and gaining a global perspective, studying abroad is an amazing part of any degree program.

Foreign students taking notes and studying together

Should you study abroad? Enrolling at a foreign university for some or all of your undergraduate or graduate degree program gives you the chance to see the world, immerse in a new culture, learn other languages, and make friends across the globe. From academic, professional, and personal growth to gaining a global perspective on industries and culture, international students can experience many benefits of studying abroad.

Why is studying abroad important? It all depends on your long-term academic and career goals, and what you hope to get out of the university experience. To decide if studying abroad is something you want to pursue, continue reading to learn more about what studying abroad means, why do people study abroad, and the advantages of studying abroad.

What Is Study Abroad?

Studying abroad involves students pursuing their higher education in a foreign country. This includes studying for your entire degree program at an international university, or taking a shorter study abroad program lasting one semester to a year. 

Why do people study abroad? Here are just a few reasons:

  • Top-ranked universities — For many ambitious international students, the universities that best align with their goals may not be in their home countries. By studying abroad, students have the chance to learn from expert faculty, build professional networks, and access state-of-the-art campus resources and facilities. 

  • Self-confidence — Studying abroad and living alone in a foreign country encourages you to become adaptable, self-reliant, and responsible. Being away from home can be challenging and rewarding, allowing you to discover your strengths and capabilities.

  • Different cultures — Traveling to a foreign country can broaden your knowledge and skills. While studying abroad, you can look forward to visiting historic landmarks and monuments, experiencing a diverse range of cuisine from cultures around the world, and making friends from all walks of life.  

  • Diverse career opportunities — Earning a degree from a prestigious university equips you with the foundational tools you need to work toward a successful career – and opens doors at global employers. The knowledge and skills you gain by pursuing your degree in a foreign country while living independently also adds value to your resume and makes you stand out from the competition. During your degree program, you can participate in internships designed to help you understand your chosen career and work toward developing the additional skills needed to excel in your field. 

These are just a few of the reasons why students want to study abroad, and there are many advantages of studying abroad that can influence your professional, academic, and personal growth. Let’s look at some of the benefits of studying abroad. 

What Are the Academic Benefits of Studying Abroad?

Why is studying abroad important? A degree from a top-ranked university is versatile and well received by hiring managers: 41% of employers in the US consider offering a higher salary to students who have studied abroad. These benefits can also extend beyond your career. According to a study by the German Center for Higher Education Research and Science Studies, the benefits of studying abroad for students include a boost in self-confidence and a better understanding of cultural values, among many other positive outcomes.

Diversifies Your Education

Studying abroad gives you the opportunity to acquire theoretical knowledge across a wide range of subjects. The courses and programs at your university are designed to offer in-demand skills that prepare you to stay on track with the current industry trends, including:

  • Lifelong learning 

  • Diversity awareness 

  • Solution-driven mindset

  • Thought leadership 

Studying abroad allows you to learn from expert faculty through engaging teaching methods that may be different from instruction in your home country, such as group discussions, presentations, case studies, project-based learning, and more. Curriculum is designed so you retain what you learned and improve your understanding of advanced topics. When you study abroad, you’ll also participate in discussions among students from different backgrounds, getting insight into different viewpoints and new ideas to consider. This improves your critical thinking skills and teaches you how to approach subjects with an analytical perspective. 

Improves Your Intercultural Skills

Intercultural skills help you communicate and share information with people from different cultures and social groups. If you choose to study abroad at an American university, you’ll find there are many foreign students applying to US universities, making the US one of the most culturally diverse countries to study. Engaging with your classmates, having conversations with friends, and experiencing unfamiliar cultures develops your global mindset, both personally and professionally. 

During your studies, you may encounter many opportunities to expand your connections and build lifelong relationships. Discussing values, social norms, history, and evolving trends among your social circle can broaden your knowledge and perspective on the world. Insight into different cultures also improves your intercultural skills, imparts unique perspectives, and opens up networking opportunities.

Learn a New Language

Learning a new language can be a valuable addition to your resume, as many employers seek individuals who can communicate with clients from different countries. When you begin living in a new environment and surrounding yourself with people who speak a different language, you may soon become proficient – or even fluent. Being able to communicate with people by speaking their language makes it easier to connect and is a valuable professional skill. Learning a new language also develops your critical thinking, multitasking, and listening skills, among other capabilities.

If you need support in improving your English or any other language you want to learn, consider using online courses and apps such as Duolingo and Babbel. Your college or university will also offer a variety of world language programs and/or ESL courses.

Internship Experience

One of the most important benefits of studying abroad are the internship opportunities available. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), graduating seniors with internship experience are 20% more likely to get a job offer than those without. An internship experience abroad gives you a competitive edge, as you’ll become more familiar in working with different types of people, gaining knowledge about the industry in a foreign country, and assisting with real-world projects. Through internships, you can also make global connections and potentially discover unique career opportunities.

While applying for internships abroad, remember to check how many hours of work your student visa permits, as this is an important part of maintaining your status as an international student. Consider your class schedules, credits contributed to your degree program, and the amount of time you can invest in an internship to decide if available opportunities are right for you. Keep in mind that you will likely need to interview during the internship application process, and you can always reach out to a Shorelight advisor to learn how to answer internship interview questions, get advice about workplace culture, and learn what to expect during your internship.

Benefit Your Career

Studying at an international university and graduating with a recognized degree is a valuable asset on your resume. Employers appreciate candidates with an international education as it demonstrates your ambition, responsibility, and flexibility. Studying abroad pushes you to develop skills outside the classroom, including:

  • Adaptability 

  • Cross-cultural awareness 

  • Leadership

  • Problem solving  

  • Negotiation 

  • Self-awareness 

Studying abroad also gives you access to companies that may not have a presence back home. When you consider where to study abroad, look for universities that are in or near locations where your dream employers have headquarters or satellite offices. Once you arrive and are well settled in your degree program, you may be able to apply for and get an internship at your top-choice companies – and translate that experience into opportunities after graduation. 

The advantages of studying abroad include a well-rounded education with curriculum designed to offer vital knowledge and skills that prepare students to enter the workforce. Knowing why do people study abroad, the benefits of studying abroad, and why is studying abroad important helps you decide on a pathway that can support you in achieving your career goals. 

Should You Study Abroad?

To decide if studying abroad is right for you, remember to consider your financial resources, plans for the future, and career goals. A good way to start can be to prepare a budget to estimate what you’ll need to spend for tuition, fees, housing, food, airline tickets, and transportation while studying abroad. This gives you a clear outline of how much funding you’ll need throughout your program. It’s also important to consider scholarships, grants, loans, and other financial aid options offered to international students. 

Studying abroad is expensive, but remember to look at the entire program to determine its true value. Research each institution you are considering, looking at curriculum, faculty, reputation, facilities, career-building opportunities, and support for international students. 

For example, Shorelight universities support international students from before the application all the way to graduation. Shorelight advisors can offer assistance on how to apply for a student visa, moving forward with your international student visa application, preparing for student visa interview questions, and much more.

Living alone in a foreign country can seem overwhelming at first, but the learning opportunities you gain from studying abroad go beyond the classroom. The independence and responsibility required to study abroad gives you the chance to explore and understand your strengths as you build key skills to support your growth.

International universities provide top-ranked academic opportunities across all disciplines, from undergraduate studies to PhD-level programs, giving you the confidence and qualifications you need to succeed in your future career. By studying abroad, you can work toward becoming a global-minded leader with a wide range of skills that can support your career goals in the US, or anywhere in the world! 

Get in touch with a Shorelight advisor to find out more >