Studying abroad can be expensive, scary, challenging and exhausting.
But like croissants on the bakery shelves of Paris or the steaming dumplings in Shanghai, you’ll be glad you tried it. Here are ten reasons to Keep Calm and Book Your Plane Ticket.
1. Gain some adaptability skills. After a few months abroad, you’re practically a culture-shifting chameleon. Learning to adapt to a foreign culture when you’re young can help develop your ability to adapt to new environments in the future. And these skills aren’t just helpful for travel, but also for transitioning to post-grad life. (Tip: employers also love this skill – it’s a great point to highlight during interviews or in your cover letter.)
2. Learn a second language. Many study abroad programs offer opportunities for language immersion, like home stays, conversation exchanges and classes alongside local students. Not only is there no better way to make international friends, but having a second language under your belt is a great skill to highlight on your resume. (Bonus points if it’s a U.S. government-deemed “critical language,” like Arabic, Russian or Japanese.)
3. It pays. Many study abroad returnees have found that their international experience helped them land a job. In today’s global market, the cultural awareness gained from time abroad will make you a more valuable employee.
4. Everyone’s doing it. The number of students headed abroad is higher than it’s ever been before. This is due in part to universities’ recognition of study abroad’s impact on students’ futures in an increasingly global job market. Your school wants you to leave for a semester. So go ahead and do it!
5. Travel the world – for cheap. While it’s great to settle into your host country, many students find ways to travel and visit several different countries while studying abroad — and they manage to do it on a student budget. For example, if you’re traveling from Paris, you can find flights to England, Scandinavia and even Eastern Europe for as cheap as $20.
6. You’ll build self-confidence. After navigating a foreign country for a semester, making your way around the U.S. will seem like a piece of cake. While taking the initial leap is scary, the successful completion of a study abroad program is a great way to give your self-confidence and sense of independence a huge boost.
7. Eat the food. (You probably don’t need much convincing on this front but just in case…) Studying abroad is not only an amazing cultural experience, but an amazing culinary one as well. You can sample fish n’ chips in England, tapas in Spain, falafel in Lebanon, croissants in Paris…need we go on?
8. You can intern, work and volunteer. Many students fear taking a semester abroad will put them behind in their careers. What they don’t realize is that many programs have options to intern, work or volunteer while you study abroad, giving you a variety of experience that will surely come in handy in the professional world.
9. You’ll make memories. You’ve heard this saying before, but we’ll say it again: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” Travel imparts cultural lessons, but also, and perhaps more importantly, memories to cherish forever. (Oh, and it makes for the best Instagram feed EVER.)
10. It makes you better-looking. A recent study found that singles find people who travel more attractive. Seriously. People conduct studies on this.
About the author: Noelle Mateer is a senior at Penn State University studying journalism and French. She spent a full year studying abroad and hopes to move abroad again after graduation. Noelle has written for USA Today College, College Tourist, Penn State News and Penn State’s Valley Magazine. Follow her on Twitter at @n_mateer