Studying abroad is no longer a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but something educationally valuable that young students and their families start thinking about much earlier. The benefits that come with an overseas educational experience – both personal and professional – for young students are many and varied. But it’s not only for the young; more and more students aged 30+ and 50+ are learning a new language abroad and reaping the cultural and career-related advantages.
But what are the main benefits? We’ve come up with 10 key reasons why you should study abroad, so here are the first five…
It's good for your brain
While the jury is still out on whether studying abroad actually makes you smarter, training your brain can definitely help you to feel more mentally nimble. But you don’t need to be fluent in a second language to start feeling more switched on – bilingualism, or even multilingualism, is more of a spectrum. Simply beginning to learn a new language from scratch can lead to increased concentration and memory in the brain’s executive control system. This area of the brain takes care of high-level thought, multi-tasking and sustained attention. If you can start to switch between two different languages with little effort, you will find a similar experience switching between tasks.
The world is becoming increasingly globalised, so it’s even more important now to understand other cultures and customs. This can be particularly crucial if you are aiming for career that will see you visiting many countries and working with people who may do business a little differently than you. Studying abroad can help with cross cultural understanding, as not only will you be immersed in a different country, you will be interacting with people from all over the world and tapping into their customs too.
Experience a new culture
But then there is the more fun aspect of studying abroad: living the everyday life of people in that country. Whether that’s sharing tapas in Spain, visiting the pyramids in Egypt, drinking Guinness in Ireland, or skiing the slopes in Canada – it’ll be a world away from what you’re used to. Courses offered at International House World Organisation schools know it’s important to make time for the exciting stuff and will allow you to not only have some cultural fun with your learning, but practice your language skills in a more casual setting.
Studying abroad and making new friends is not only for the short term – the network of friends you make while overseas will stay with you for a long time, and could open potential doors. You’ll have a shared experience to reflect and look back on, not to mention friends to visit in another country after your studies have come to an end. Having an international network of mates could also be invaluable, as who knows where your connections could lead in the future?
Quality of education
Sometimes it’s important to think long term when learning another language, as it can help lead to a university education in another country. If you’re thinking ahead and know where you want to study, or even which institution you want to attain your degree/qualification, learning the language in advance can really help and lead to a better quality of education. A lot of people are already switched on to which countries have university institutions offering free tuition, or which have good emigration and post-study opportunities, so being prepared by learning the language beforehand can certainly be a bonus.
Stay tuned for the remaining five reasons next week. In the meantime, check out which International House World Organisation schools offer Study Abroad courses here. We have a global network of 54 Study Abroad schools offering a variety of language courses for all types of learners.