Studying abroad can be termed as ability to accomplish knowledge or skills with in a university or other academic setting for a specific period of time, it can be for a single semester (four months) up to several years. It can be observed that studying abroad positively impacts a student’s personal, professional, intellectual and social life. This experience provides a student with both short term and long term benefits, it depends from student to student that what he achieves and how he achieves. But some people are of the opinion that studying abroad is not as beneficial as one might think it is because some students don’t benefit at all by studying abroad. In this particular essay, I am going to write about whether it is appropriate for a student to studying at home rather than studying abroad because studying abroad involves a lot of hardships and difficulties for a student. In my personal opinion, it is a great opportunity for any student to go to a foreign country and get educated because exposure to another culture provides a path for learning things that you could not learn in your home country. Study abroad can greatly influence a student’s life in a very positive way.
Firstly, it can be argued that study abroad provides a student an opportunity to gain language skills and learn about new culture. A student is unable to learn this if he studies at home rather than going abroad. According to Hopkins (1993, p. 36); “Study abroad programs take many forms, but all share the characteristic that, by their very nature, they provide students with a healthy dose of experiential learning. Immersing oneself in another culture provides new opportunities for learning”. But according to a proposal by NAFSA international conference that was conducted in May 2010, it is not necessary that every single student is influenced by the other country’s culture and tradition while he is studying abroad because just going to a different country is sometimes not enough. It is the inner drive and motivation that leads a student to get used to new things and adapt different aspects of a new culture. Moreover, it depends on a student’s personal and social attitude because if one is an introvert person it is most likely that he will not be able to socialize especially when he is residing in a foreign country.
Also, when it comes to gaining language skills, there are many students who study abroad but they remain unable to grasp any language skills at all may be because they are not much exposed to the local environment or it can be the case that they are not interested in immersing themselves to learn foreign language or foreign culture. But in my opinion, majority of the students are quite keen and willing to learn about new things and new culture.
Many students are of the opinion that study abroad helped them to understand others culture as well as their own. They are exposed to intercultural development and it helps them to acknowledge their own cultural values and beliefs and this ultimately motivates them to look at the world in a more sophisticated way. Although, these intercultural benefits might not be visible at first but the overall impact on a student’s life can be traced out in the long run. Now, with regards to language skills, according to Sieloff Magnan,S. Back, M (2008) “language gain is possible during a semester long study abroad program. It does not uphold the common belief that living situation and contact with authentic media differentiate students who improve from those who do not”. This shows that to study abroad puts you in a strong position to grasp proficiency in another language as you are given the opportunity to sit in a classroom environment and are required to interact with your fellow students and naturally you are provided the chance to gain such skills. Besides the classroom and educational setting the outside atmosphere forces you to be able to communicate with the locals and it does impact on your language learning abilities. Although, you can learn new languages while you are studying at home but study abroad provides you the opportunity to learn another language in a practical way. You are able to achieve language skills by practically living in an environment rather that learning another language through a textbook or other courses.
Secondly, study abroad positively influences the career path of students. Although, it can be argued that student expectations regarding their professional life is not met adequately even if they study abroad but on a general basis it does have an impact on their career development in the long run. According to Trooboff, S., Van Deberg, M and Rayman, J. (2007-2008); “It is clear that employers in general, and some classes of employers in particular, place significant value on studying abroad”. It is a fact that it helps a student to build up his self-confidence and equips him with resources that he requires to get self sufficient in a foreign country and once he gains confidence he is able to put his study abroad experience in a good way onto his CV. Although it is argued that study abroad does not guarantee employment especially in this economic environment when highly qualified individuals are seeking employments it gets difficult for a newly graduate individual to succeed in getting employed.
Moreover, if a student finishes his education in a foreign country, gains work experience there for a few years and then decides to go back to his home country, he might find it difficult to resettle in his own country because of his foreign work experience. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that study abroad helps an individual to enhance his career development skills like; listening and observing, adapting to changes, ability to work under pressure, ability to analyze, interpret and evaluate things, ability to work outside your comfort zone and much more.
Many employers are strongly convinced and are of the opinion that study abroad does help an individual to be independent and gain all different types of career building skills. They consider that an individual who has spend time studying abroad is someone who is not afraid of undertaking huge career responsibilities and that he is able to take any challenges that come his way. Therefore, reliability on such employees is high as compared to those students who do not go abroad to study. It also depends on what type of education you have attained while you were abroad. For instance, a person who achieves accountancy degree from abroad is preferred more as compared to a student who has attained similar degree but from his home country. Moreover, a student who studies abroad is able to put his experience and knowledge that he gained while living in a foreign country surrounded by other students belonging to different inter-cultural groups, into his career path. Study abroad provides an opportunity to the student to look unique and different among other people in the job market. The skills and knowledge that a student gains while he is living abroad provides him and added advantage in any career field that he opts for.
In conclusion, it is better to study abroad rather than studying at home because despite encountering the problems of living and studying in a different culture, a student is able to gain benefits out of the whole experience. He gets to know about cultural values and traditions of the country he is staying. He is able to experience the environment outside of his educational setting and gain experience from it. A student also benefits from learning and communicating in foreign language with the locals and other students. At the same time, study abroad gives an added advantage to the student with regards to his personal, academic, professional and social life. It is an experience of a lifetime which cannot be attained if a student decides to stay at home and study instead of going to a foreign country. Study abroad increases the level of independence and confidence of a student. He is immersed into in a new culture and is given a chance to learn about things from a global perspective rather than a personal one. He gains valuable experiences that benefit his life and career on a long term basis.
Hopkins, J. R. (1999). Studying Abroad as a Form of Experiential Education. Liberal Education. P.85, 34-6.
Sieloff, Magnan, S. Black, M. (2008) Social Interaction and Linguistic Gain During Study Abroad, Foreign Language Annals. 40/1, p43-61.
Pellegrino Aveni, V. A. (1998). Student Perspectives on Language Learning in a Study Abroad Context. (available online): http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?hl=en&q=frontiers pellegrino &btnG=Search&as_sdt=2000&as_ylo=&as_vis=0
Trooboff, S., Van Deberg, M., and Rayman, J. (2007-2008) Employers Attitudes Towards study Abroad (available online): http://www.frontiersjournal.com/documents/TrooboffVandebergRaymonFRONTIERSJOURNALXVWinter2007-08-pdf.pdf
Just how are Students Different After Study Abroad. NAFSA International Conference (May 2010). Kansas City, MO. (available online): http://proposals.nafsa.org/Abstract_Uploads/1410.61212.GS028.pdf
Kim, Y. Y. (1991). Intercultural Communication Competence: A Systems-theoretic View. P.259-275.