Benefits of study abroad

Louvre Photo Competition 2012-13

Below are just some of the reasons to consider study abroad. You may find more reasons amongst our profiles of students who have studied abroad.

You may also wish to read the profiles of staff who studied abroad as part of their own undergraduate programme and who found that the experience has helped to shape their academic or professional careers.

1. Broaden your academic experience

Studying your degree subjects from a different perspective and in a different academic culture is an intellectually invigorating experience. You may have the opportunity to study modules not offered at St Andrews. Courses may complement your St Andrews studies but offer a new dimension, whether it’s geography field trips in North America, modern European history in Strasbourg, or marine biology on the Great Barrier Reef. Study abroad will open new doors academically and may help you to discover new academic passions. It could encourage you to think about postgraduate study in a certain field, or in a certain location.

2. Improve your language skills or learn a new language altogether!

Immersing yourself in another culture is a great way to learn a new language, or to enhance your existing language skills. However, you don’t always need a language to study abroad. Many of our European partners offer courses in English for students from disciplines other than languages, while offering the opportunity to try language classes alongside your studies.

3. Enhance your employability

Competition for graduate positions in many professions is fierce. Study abroad can help you stand out from the crowd; it demonstrates your self-motivation and independence, your willingness to embrace new challenges and adapt to new situations. Your experience of living and studying or working abroad, of negotiating your way around a new culture and coping with the challenges you face will add an important dimension to your CV. Furthermore, many students seize opportunities to become involved in student organisations or to apply for internships through the host institution. Such experiences are great ways to build an interesting CV.

4. Experience life in another culture

Living abroad can be a challenging and life-changing experience. You will learn all sorts of things about your host culture, and about yourself. Even cultures which may initially seem very close to your own will surprise you in many ways. A semester or year abroad can often help you to decide if you want to live in another country after you graduate – it gives you the opportunity to experience life there in a way that a holiday in the country can never match.

5. Discover a new part of the world

Weekends and semester vacations provide a wonderful opportunity to explore your host country and even neighbouring countries. Often, study abroad students travel to places they would not be likely to visit otherwise. A short break from your studies in Ontario could be used to sample some new winter sports in breath-taking surroundings. If you study or work anywhere in Europe, your student railcard will be one of your most prized possessions, enabling you to see somewhere new every weekend, should you wish.

6. Make new friends

As well as meeting lots of people from your host country, it is likely you’ll meet other international students also finding their way. Often, the friends you make on study abroad programmes are friends for life.

7. Demonstrate your independence and develop life skills

A study abroad experience will undoubtedly enhance your confidence and independence, and your problem-solving skills. It may also offer opportunities to learn new skills or to put existing skills to the test in a new way. It will certainly test your organisational skills as well as your ability to cope with new challenges, to communicate with a diverse range of people, and to adapt quickly to a new setting.

8. See the world from a new perspective

Study abroad will expose you to new ideas and ways of life, but it will also encourage you to see your own culture from a new perspective and perhaps challenge ideas and perceptions that you may have always taken for granted. Most students claim the experience is a life-changing one.

9. Try new activities and sports

Many students try new activities and sports during their semester or year abroad – either pursuits that are quite specific to a certain host culture, such as a local festival, or activities that are quite different in the host surroundings, such as the diving opportunities afforded by life in Queensland, or roller-skating along Venice beach after classes at UCLA. The opportunities to try new things are endless!

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