Top 5 reasons to study abroad

Billie Hara / Library by Afternoon light /©

Author: Mika Billig
Photos: Flickr

I graduated at the state university in my hometown. I was a good student, nay I was one of the best students in my class. I passed all my exams without encountering any significant problems and I graduated with a good average. Up until my third year of studies I haven’t flunked an exam. But, something was missing. During my time in college I never really felt that I was a student. I never felt that I had the life of a student.   I was living with my parents, I had dinner with them, I never cooked anything, I didn’t wash the dishes, I wasn’t working to support myself and I expected money from my parents for my late night drinking bouts.   This was probably the only thing that made me a ‘real’ student, the regular and almost religious alcohol consumption and use of soft drugs. I never took part in any student protest, or a debate, I wasn’t a member of any student organization, I didn’t write for any student magazine, and I never had the chance to publicly voice my opinion on a topic relevant to students. The reason behind this, besides the fact that I was passive and indifferent, was that there weren’t really any instances of student protests being organized, no debates were held, all of the student organizations were actually a youth extension of the political party in power, and the student magazines, either their political pamphlet, or a collection of boring texts same as the ones in our socialist past.
Thank God I was an avid reader. This fondness for books besides helping me get better grades, also led me to an unexpected turn. I received a scholarship to spend a month at a summer school in Prague. What a shock! It was 1997, so distant from today’s perspective. All the people I met asked me for my e-mail to keep our friendship alive after the summer school was over. I had no idea what Internet was then. These people knew at least 4 or 5 languages, while I entertained the illusion that my broken English is a great success I need to be proud of. I wasn’t able to follow the discussions and debates they had. I’d never heard of the films, books and movies they talked about. It was clear to me from day one that we are worlds apart, that I didn’t belong to the student life they had, something I was so desperate to have. A landmark decision was reached in light of these events. I decided to continue my education abroad.

Through this article I would try to list the five most important reasons for studying abroad, either as a full-time or exchange student.

Top five reasons why you should study abroad

1. To become a real student

Studying abroad will make you a real student. You will live like a student, party like a student, eat like a student. Especially if you decide to live in a dormitory. Only then can you grasp the concept of a ‘real student’. Partying all the time on the one hand, and then the late night cramming. Managing your tight budget, putting aside every penny you got to buy a beer or something to eat. All of a sudden how you dress becomes irrelevant. Your jeans, your sneakers and a t-shirt is all you need. The teaching approach, the exams and the way you are treated are worlds apart from what you’re used to. You can express your opinion, you can clearly state why you disagree about something, you can discuss, argue and convince. Your life will revolve around books, your laptop and the Internet, always there to keep you company. Libraries with thousands of books, a well of online libraries you can have access to once you get your password from the faculty. And while you’re gulping down your beer, you see your reflection in the mirror and realize that you’ve become a real student.

minxlj / The bite of the travel bug /©


2. To see the world and broaden your experience

The world is brimming with fascinating places worth visiting. Being a student will give you a perfect timing to travel, experience other cultures and live in another cultural context. Studying abroad will give you the chance to experience this from a non-tourist perspective, it will give you the chance to literally be assimilated into a culture other than your own for a certain period of time. I’m positive that you’ll be enchanted by the alleys with lovely houses, and that you’ll start humming some new tunes and that you’ll be fascinated by some new movies, plays and works of art. Living and studying in another cultural milieau, in a culture new to you will literally make you see the world from a completely different perspective caps can also help further your educational expirience. It’s a one of a kind experience that will transform your life. Mark my words.

3. To broaden your views, gain new insights and outlook through new relationships

Studying abroad will give the opportunity to make new friendships, having the potential to become one of the deepest friendships you ever had. Hanging out with your peers from different countries and cultures will broaden your horizons, and at the same time provide you with the opportunity to see how other people think, what is their stance towards various issues, what do they like, what are they judgmental about, what are they ready to fight for. Talking with them on all of these topics will help you overcome and dismiss any prejudice you might have had earlier, especially when it comes to stereotypical attitudes about certain nations, countries and religions. Living in another country will not only automatically place you in a cultural milieau you might have had certain prejudices about, but also help you in the process of fostering great new friendships with people you never thought could be your friends.
You will realize that this hanging out and discussing is also a learning exercise, it’s a process of exploration and finding out different things, interesting facts and useful information. Do not underestimate these get- togethers, because they are as valuable as reading a book when it comes to learning new things.

Chapman Learning Commons / ©

4. To learn new languages or to improve the knowledge of the language you already speak

If you are a language student, the best way to really learn the language is to go to the country where it is the native language. In a few months you will learn a lot more and see immediate progress as opposed to trying to learn the language in a classroom. You will communicate in it on a daily basis when you do your shopping, while at school, or in the dormitory, on the street. Communicating constantly will sort of force you to think and formulate your ideas in the new language, and will even talk in it in your dreams, which is probably one of the most crucial elements of learning a language. Learning new languages is always a challenge and requires a certain amount of dedication, and talent. Some people have an ear for languages and in a short period of time are able to formulate their ideas and express their opinion in the new language, while others are still struggling to make up sentences and avoid basic mistakes. Do not despair and do not give up easily! In any case, you will have plenty of chances to hone your English speaking skills, since it is the mother tongue of all students and young people. All discussions and conversations are held in English. It’s the official language of the world. Communicating in it will make you improve your speaking significantly.

5. To shape your own future

During your stay in another country you will be exposed to so many different influences, some of which may be life-changing. This is a period when you’ll have the time to think about your future, to learn about yourself and decide what you want to do in life. Some people decide that they want to travel the world, work in another country, or perhaps switch to another profession. You might fall in love and that may lead you in another direction or place. All of a sudden the whole world opens up in front of your eyes, and all these new dimensions are available to you, dimensions and perspectives you had the slightest idea about and now are at your feet. Studying abroad may be the first step in the new episode of your life.


I have listed five reasons why a person should spend some time studying abroad. I might be wrong, perhaps some of the arguments I have mentioned don’t wash. Perhaps sitting at the bench in front of your building or drinking your coffee in your regular haunt will make your life more meaningful and help you find your place and succeed.

7 thoughts on “Top 5 reasons to study abroad

  1. Holy S***!! Is like reading to my own writing, just the intro not the reasons part and i am not an avid reader, I'll just wait for the movie to come out instead :)Anyways…I completely agree with everything you said(again I am still talking about the first part,am still the old you).I really don't feel like a student,I am about to finish my studies and i haven't experienced the true hard life of a busy hard core student.I also agree with the reasons and i totally believe you and i hope i'll get to move out from my parents house and start doing my laundry on my own.Can't wait! :))

    1. I also hope you will move out, it is about time 🙂 joking. There is this Italian expression I really like coco di mama – Mama's little monkey. So, from this perspective sometimes I miss someone else doing laundry, ironing or cooking for me, or being coco di mama once in a while :))

  2. Incredible writing. I lived in a dormitory in the U.S… but studying abroad just teaches you so much about yourself and where you come from as you interact with people who are from different cultures and have different points of view. Couldn't agree more with the author.

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