As an ambitious college student inching closer each year towards real “adulthood”, there’s no doubt you are probably looking for ways to set yourself apart, likely harder than ever.
In an ever-evolving world that seems to have a new goalpost each day for what it means to be “qualified” to succeed, it is highly advised that you think of many different routes to distinguish and market your experience.
This is where study abroad comes in. While students across the globe have been “studying abroad” for nearly 100 years, the popularity of gaining degree credits or full degrees in a foreign educational market has exploded since 2008 with the ‘Great Recession’.
For many millennials (like me!), having the chance to add educational and work experience earned in an international market to our resumes has paid off two-fold since our entry into a stagnant economic market within the last decade.
As our Gen-Z predecessors (that’s likely you!) now stepping up to make their mark, enter the job market, and compete on the other side of a global pandemic, the keyword to consider is differentiation.
Study abroad is an element of someone’s resume that makes them “different”, especially from an employer’s perspective.
Again as I mentioned, while it’s been an active concept for almost 100 years, you would be shocked to know that less than half of college-aged students worldwide actually study abroad during their time at university. This is based on a variety of factors including the cost, not finding a suitable program, the inability to secure a visa, not being able to find a study abroad advisor, and the lack of understanding of how it will benefit them in the future.
If you are (still) reading this post, it means you understand there IS a benefit to studying abroad, but that you are likely interested in finding out specifically how it will benefit you moving forward.
Here are three major benefits to studying abroad for Generation Z:
1. Access to a new perspective and “lens”
Most of us are creatures of habit and feel most comfortable in our familiar bubbles, so much that it can be difficult to remember that there truly is a whole wide world out in the distance. Studying abroad provides students the opportunity to discover a new culture, a different way of life, and an upgrade to the lens through which life can be seen.
From the novelty of understanding your host country’s currency and local cuisine or embarking on an enrichment course to learn the local language, your semester abroad is the ideal time to dive deep and assimilate with purpose.
You will be amazed how even a short two-week program in another country will expose you to a variety of new ideas and help question your current views.
2. Unapologetic opportunity to develop and grow your global network
While the invention of social media has certainly changed our ability to view, speak with, and meet people from around the world, study abroad gives students the chance to do this in a targeted way.
The likelihood that you will be studying alongside students from other countries, or at the bare minimum, different parts of your host country such as states in the US, is exponentially high. This exposure to a variety of people offers a rich environment to build rapport and establish relationships that have the potential to lead to future opportunities that can be beneficial in both your professional and personal journey.
The concept of community while studying abroad was so important to me, I’ve built a career from it. If you have not heard about it, my online community platform The LiveStudyLearn Abroad Association allows you to safely connect with fellow study abroad students worldwide, with opportunities to expand your network and make friends.
3. Build a space for deeper reflection and expand life goals
Study abroad is going to change you. Even if you only spend a semester away in a new country, you will return home as a different person in many ways. Immersion into a foreign culture can be met with resistance, but is contagious. It is also the ideal time to explore and reflect on your path moving forward.
Consider how you will use your study abroad experience in the future to market yourself and your skills. Are the classes you completed able to propel you into an internship or a job? Can you serve as a mentor once you return to campus for other students that would like to study abroad?
There is no doubt you’ll have a ‘wish list’ of all the great things you want to accomplish and achieve prior to departing for your semester abroad. Find ways to implement them in the journey to aid in your personal growth.
While these three benefits are only a starter for what is possible for the many ways study abroad can positively shape your life and future for the better, it will be up to you to determine the ways to be inspired by your semester away adventure.
Interested in exploring study abroad programs and finding the best one for you? Download my free printable guide below to learn more and get started!
Until next time…
Known as The Study Abroad Specialist, Kimber Grayson is a serial-study abroader turned International Education coach and expert. Since 2014, she has helped 100+ students navigate their semester away journey from the coastal areas of Spain to China and every place in between. In 2018, she launched The LiveStudyLearn™ Abroad Association, a one-of-a-kind online membership platform for study abroad students worldwide.
She holds two Master's degrees from two well-respected London-based universities and has experience working in the US, UK & and Italy.
In her spare time (what's that again?), she enjoys leisure travel city breaks, any snow-based activity, skeet shooting, and attempting to learn new languages.