Are you considering studying abroad? It’s not a decision one can make on the fly. In fact, you’re likely here because you want to know if it’ll be worth it. Footing tuition fees and living expenses in a foreign country, living far away from home, adjusting to different cultures and languages - these can sound pretty daunting. To give you our stance on the matter - the pros very much outweigh the cons. Take a look at our roundup of the top 8 reasons for studying abroad!
8 Study Abroad Benefits for International Students
1. Choose the Ideal Course that You Wish to Study
One of the biggest reasons students explore study abroad options is to seek out courses that best fit what they want to study. You might find that the higher education providers in your country don’t quite have the exact specialisation you’re seeking. For example, your local university might have a great engineering program. However, it might not have a specific pathway for sustainability engineering. Or maybe there are reputable courses available for English. But there isn’t a specific pathway for the period literature you’re interested in. You might find a couple of courses that fit the bill where you are, but if you're looking into studying abroad, chances are the options at home aren’t extensive.
On the other hand, when you consider study abroad options, you have a plethora of courses to choose from. Universities in major study abroad destinations offer renowned and certified programs in disciplines with routes for specialisation. Rather than just doing an English degree, you can branch off into Creative Writing, Linguistics, or Screenwriting. Rather than studying the broad discipline of Health, you can specialise from the get-go in Sports Health or Health and Nutrition. These long-running, top-quality universities come equipped with specialised facilities, resources, and educators. Whether you want to train to be an archaeologist, performing artist, criminologist, or hotelier, you’ll definitely find what you’re looking for when considering study abroad options.
2. Stand Out to Employers with Your International Degree
Many major study abroad universities craft their curriculum around industry trends and needs. This means they are very responsive to what the job market and economy demand. Courses are current, built in collaboration with educators with a ton of experience and with industry experts. When you graduate, you do so with all the qualifications you need to have an edge in the working world. In contrast, if you’re studying a general program in your area of study, or substitute a program you want to do with the one that’s available to you at home, you might impact your future prospects. You might have to work on getting extra qualifications and spend more on additional qualifications to get work in your chosen area of expertise. And just as important? You might not be as happy with your life and career as you would be working in an area you’re passionate about.
How an International Degree Impacts Your Employability
Ever glanced through university rankings during your research for studying abroad? We’ll hazard a guess that you have. And we’ll also hazard a guess that you noticed that a handful of locations have concentrations of the world’s best universities. Countries like the UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada, and the USA have long histories of higher education quality. Over the years, this quality as a whole is climbing higher and higher. Many of these globally-ranking universities host lecturers and professors with years of academic and industry experience to their names. These institutions often have renowned research initiatives and facilities. Even countries as small as Ireland and New Zealand rank all or nearly all their universities in global listings, thanks to their dedication to high education quality and responsiveness to industry needs.
All this means that holding a qualification from one of these universities immediately spotlights you to employers. A few lines on your resume stating your higher education achievements tells your employers a bunch of things. Your qualification is shorthand for your advanced knowledge, skills, experience, motivation, and much more. As high quality as the education at your local college may be, studying abroad allows you to take a longer stride ahead in an already competitive workplace.
3. Polish Up Your Ability with Languages
Have you noticed that a large majority of study abroad destinations are English-speaking countries? English, as you know, is the most widely spoken language in the world. It’s the tool through which you communicate, collaborate, study, and work. As an international student, chances are you already need to sit for an English proficiency test to qualify for studying abroad. And a huge benefit of study abroad? You get to put your English skills to the test.
This is an especially great opportunity if you feel you’re not completely proficient in English. It may be challenging, sure. You might find yourself tongue-tied or struggling to get your ideas across accurately and decisively. But first-hand experience is usually the most effective way of developing your language skills. You’ll find yourself navigating class, work, and everyday life in English. As you do, you’ll naturally pick up native-language proficiency with the language. And this is a huge plus in opening up opportunities to settle and work abroad and back home. After all, great communicators in one of the world’s most spoken languages are always in demand!
English isn’t the only language you can pick up better skills in. Many study abroad universities offer high-level courses and opportunities to study other languages too. If you’re going to a country in which the native language isn’t English - for example, Malaysia, Japan, or the Republic of Korea - you get to pick up conversational skills in a language you might otherwise not have as much exposure to. Even if you’re going to an English-speaking country like Ireland or Canada, you can try out your hand at picking up a new language alongside English! Multiple language proficiencies are also a great addition to your CV. Plus, they create opportunities for you to experience more of the world!
4. Improve Your Employability Through Hands-On Experience
We’ve mentioned employability and career prospects quite a bit in this article. And that’s because the career benefits of studying abroad are multifold. Chief among studying abroad benefits are the opportunities for experiential learning. Again, think about the destinations that frequently crop up when considering studying abroad. It’s very likely that these countries also have booming, highly-developed economies. And one of the reasons this is the case is the symbiotic relationship these industries have with the education system.
Industry trends and experts actively inform course curricula. And this usually involves experiential, hands-on learning. Be it through practical lab sessions, simulated work projects, student-run projects for industry partners, or months of work placement in real-life companies, graduates enter the workforce job-ready. The economies of these countries continue to thrive thanks to top-quality graduates and experts. And in turn, they work with educators to keep programs up-to-date to continue this upward trend.
Long story short? Studying at quality universities in major study abroad destinations gears you up for success as soon as you graduate.
5. Experience Diverse Methods of Learning
We'll hazard a guess that some of you are very familiar with the style of learning that goes something like this: you’re in a classroom, sitting at a desk, as a teacher up front goes through the class material. You take notes, occasionally answer questions, sit for tests and exams.
But how effective is this as a means of learning? Theory and practice are, after all, two very different things. One of our top answers for the frequent questions of “How does studying abroad help you academically?” is this - you learn different ways of learning. Textbooks and quizzes are important, of course. But college is all about developing practical knowledge and skills. It’s not just the course material either. When you’re simulating working on a marketing campaign with a group, or participating in regular seminars with your lecturer and class, you develop many valuable soft skills. You grow as a communicator, discover and expand how you best absorb knowledge and create opportunities to learn through other people and methods. For example, learning about the principles of architecture is one thing. But creating a scale model of a building you designed teaches you through first-hand, tactile learning in a way regular classroom sessions can’t. And it’s these experiences that create a confident, qualified, and job-ready you.
6. Become a Truly Global Individual
We are all, to some extent, products of the places we grew up in. Study abroad benefits international students beyond the classroom. It gives you a unique opportunity to experience more of the world. Yes, at first you might feel like a fish out of water. But the beautiful thing about human beings is our ability to adapt. Before you know it, as the weeks blend into months, you will pick up your host country’s way of doing things. As you co-exist with your peers, you learn more about their value and belief systems first-hand. You regularly experience their practices and habits, for everything from using chopsticks in restaurants to queueing for the bus, or how early you need to show up for an appointment. You learn how they approach more intangible things, like conflict resolution and inclusiveness. It might be a shock to you to discover that things you considered a norm your whole life might be a form of prejudice. You might experience discrimination from people who know as little about you as you do about them. These experiences, some fun and eye-opening and others certainly not, are all valuable learning curves.
It might be tempting to stick to what you’re used to. After all, home is familiar and safe. But studying abroad creates an irreplaceable experience you won’t get otherwise. As you learn to adjust and adapt to a foreign environment, you develop a more global mindset. Through multiple perspectives, you work out your own values and beliefs. You have a better understanding of how to navigate and conduct yourself on a global stage.
The world is more intertwined and interconnected now than ever before.
Employers will always value a candidate who has a global mindset. You can communicate and collaborate efficiently with people from around the world. And you’ll improve your own quality of life by opening yourself up to experiences you won’t have otherwise!
7. Bond With People From All Over the World
The friends you have at home are always going to be an important part of your life. You share experiences, memories, the relatability of growing up in the same place knowing the same things. But a wonderful opportunity of studying abroad is meeting and mingling with folks from the rest of the world! Documentaries, vlogs, and social media can never compare to learning about the world around you through people. You get to hear about different experiences, backgrounds, cultures, values, beliefs. You get to meet a ton of different personalities. Granted, you’re not going to get along with or even like all of them. But you won’t be able to deny that you meet many interesting characters along the way. As dear as your friends back home will always be, making new friends is refreshing and exciting too! This, again, helps you expand your horizons. You get to view the world through multiple new perspectives. You get to learn much more about people and places. As you chat about your respective childhoods back home, pick up a new life-changing habit from your flatmate, or bond over foreign language films and project work, you get to grow in ways you couldn’t have in your backyard.
8. Learning that Goes Beyond the Classroom
At home, you likely didn’t have to worry about regular meals, paying bills, doing grocery runs, or your laundry. When studying abroad, though, you’re going to have to manage all this by yourself. When looking into study abroad benefits and drawbacks, students often bring this up as a concern. Classes might feel overwhelming enough. Add to that managing a balanced diet and keeping track of bills and groceries, and you might already be sweating bullets.
But here’s the thing - this is also a learning opportunity. After all, nobody starts off knowing how to cook, clean, budget, and so on. And these are skills you are going to need later in life. Picking them up as early as you can makes your life smoother. As you venture out of your comfort zone, you grow as a person. Yes, you’ll make mistakes. You might end up tossing your whites into the washer with the coloured clothing. Maybe you’ll end up forgetting things and keep backtracking to the grocery store. Your first attempt at a home-cooked meal might be a disaster. And none of this is a bad thing, even though in the moment it might feel like the end of the world.
Why? Because making mistakes is unironically one of the best ways to learn. We might be sounding too much like a motivational poster right now, but this is science-backed. When you make mistakes, you’re subconsciously figuring out what went wrong. The more you keep trying, the more you narrow the margin between what you did and what you were trying to do. If you keep shying away from things you’ve never done before, you’re depriving yourself of so many opportunities for personal development.
9. Access Post-Study Pathways
Many students approach a higher education abroad with the hope that it will launch them into future opportunities. Whether these are higher-paying work opportunities back home, or pathways toward post-graduation opportunities at your destination country, studying abroad definitely opens doors you couldn't otherwise access. Studies show that students with degrees from major study destinations find employment faster and tend to earn more than their counterparts. In countries like Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, a higher education degree can in turn open up routes for post-study work permits and permanent residency. As you can expect, many students hope to access these opportunities in the long run with the right degree. Better career opportunities, which we've already discussed at length, along with the chance to settle in a safe, welcoming and developed country with a high standard of living, is a big attraction for prospective international students.
Our Concluding Thoughts on Studying Abroad
Trust us - we know how huge of an undertaking studying abroad is. The research and applications can feel daunting enough. But the actual experience of leaving behind everything you’ve known your whole life to strike out a course in an unfamiliar place can be intimidating to many. You’re likely as excited as you are nervous. We hope that with our breakdown, we’ve helped you feel more of the former and less of the latter. Ultimately, bringing study abroad benefits statistics and our years of experience working with international students to bear, we can definitely say the pros outweigh the cons. The academic, professional, and personal experience you get studying abroad is something you can’t access anywhere else. So, are you ready to plan out your adventures as an international student?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why is studying abroad beneficial?
How does studying abroad help you? The list can go on and on! If we had to summarise, though, the following are some of the best benefits you derive as an international student:
- A broad scope of choice for your ideal program
- Graduating with a recognisable and respected degree
- Improving your English language ability and learning new languages
- Graduating with the highest chances of employability and in-demand skills
- Experiencing hands-on, practical, and diverse methods of learning
- Becoming a truly global individual with a broad worldview
- Creating meaningful connections with people from around the world
- Growing and developing personally as well as academically and professionally
- Accessing post-study opportunities for a better standard of living
What is the best study abroad destination?
Some of the best universities in the world tend to cluster in specific locations. Our top picks, thanks to their prize-winning combination of excellent institutions, high graduate employability, and experience in accommodating international students, are:
- The United Kingdom
- New Zealand
- The United States of America
What do I need to study abroad?
This depends on which country and which university you’re applying to. A couple of common items you’ll typically need, for your academic and visa applications, include:
- Academic transcripts and high-school leaving certificates
- Proof of identity (copies of your current passport, national identification card, driver’s license, etc.)
- English proficiency test results
- Statements of purpose/intent
- Health exam report
- Police clearance report
- Work experience history
- Academic or professional references/Letters of recommendation
- Curriculum Vitae
- Biometrics (photographs and fingerprints)
As specific universities and immigration offices have specific requirements, do research these carefully before you go ahead and apply!