Continuing from our ‘Reasons to Study Abroad - Part 1’ published on March 28, this week we bring you Part 2! As we discussed before, the thought process behind studying abroad is advancing, as students of all ages think more in-depth about the benefits – long-term and short-term, personal and professional – about learning a language. Last week, we went through why learning overseas is good for your brain: globalisation; experiencing new cultures; making international connections; and potentially finding a better quality of education.
Without further ado, here are five more reasons why you should study abroad!
Character building, independence and resilience
What better way for a young student to gain more independence than in a new country, supported by an International House school and its staff. For a first timer, once that initial leap of faith has been successfully executed, it can build confidence and open doors to where they want to take their future education and later career. Studying a language abroad builds character, as overcoming that vital communication barrier with locals will take some resilience… but nothing worth having ever came easily. It could be this courage that eventually sets you apart from other candidates when applying for a job, as employers may think that this kind of spirit or pluckiness will be reflected in the workplace.
Develop your communication skills
Learning a new language opens up a myriad of communication skills – not only the fact that you will simply be able to speak in another language. Upon first arriving in that country, you may find that you need to ask for the simplest of things using your new but limited skills. Asking for anything more complicated, however, could mean finding a more ingenious way of asking for something that you haven’t learnt the word for yet. An example from someone in our office includes asking about a neighbour by saying “the person you live next to” or even “the person you live in front of”! There is always a way to explain what you are trying to say, even if you end up miming! A positive, can-do attitude will help you communicate with anyone. Of course, building up the confidence to speak to more people will help to improve your vocabulary and also your natural conversation flow – good for making new friends and also for impressing employers.
As previously explored, learning a language can help to increase concentration and confidence, but did you know it can also improve tolerance in numerous ways? For example, language learning can lead to a higher tolerance of ambiguity, which means that unfamiliar situations seem exciting rather than frightening. A conversation in a new language when you’re in an unfamiliar country will naturally be a bit scary at first, but the more you do it, the more familiar it will become. This increased understanding can cross over into other parts of your life, thus increasing your tolerance of ambiguity. Not to mention the heightened cross-cultural understanding leading to more tolerance through kindness and patience.
It could make you happier
A study featured in Current Biology found that the part of the brain where reward processing occurs, called the ventral striatum, is stimulated by learning the meaning of new words when learning another language. This part of the brain is also activated when you eat a piece of chocolate! Although learning a new language sometimes comes with its stresses, successful learning can boost the levels of dopamine in your brain leading to a better mood overall. Plus, being able to communicate with more people will lead to more social connections. For example, if you learn Spanish, not only will you be able to communicate with people from Spain, you will also be able to travel to Latin America and communicate with the people there too!
See the world!
Of course, it’s impossible to talk about learning a language abroad without mentioning that this means travelling to new exciting, exotic and exuberant places. The world is full of towns and cities known for their culture, history, food scene, sport, liveliness, proximity to outdoor or beachside activities, beauty, or charm. Being in a new place, you will automatically broaden your education in different ways, like visiting new museums, seeing wonders of the world up close, or hiking through striking landscapes. If you have chance, it can also mean that you are able to visit neighbouring countries more easily than you would’ve before, e.g. studying in Italy might also mean you can visit France, Germany or Malta.
International House World Organisation has study abroad opportunities in 54 countries worldwide, where 7 languages are taught. To find out more about where you can start – or continue – your study abroad journey with IH, go here and browse through our many options.