College is an excellent time to explore all available opportunities, including study-abroad programs. The life lessons that come with the academic experience in another country give way to learning about and participating in a new culture, widening knowledge, network, and mindfulness skills. Texas Christian University (TCU) student Bryn Carden believes every student can benefit from partaking in a study abroad program and shares her top five reasons why to embark on such an adventure.
1. Live life to a different beat
The choice to study abroad presents a change of pace in life as living in a different culture requires flexibility and adaptation. The experience of living life to a new and unfamiliar beat grants the ability to build skills such as intercultural competence, exploration, open-mindedness, curiosity, critical thinking, and self and social awareness. A life surrounded by new perspectives can also influence innovation and exposure to inspiring ideas and realizations.
2. Learn a second language
Emerging oneself full-time into a new culture with a non-native language is one of the most effective ways to learn a language. Studying abroad in a country that challenges language skills teaches students how to communicate in another culture productively and helps to pick up on social cues and body language. While it's only natural to feel overwhelmed or homesick due to a language barrier, the overall experience is a doorway into new and authentic perspectives that undoubtedly elevate the collegiate experience.
3. Build an international network
Study abroad programs offer an excellent platform to meet new people, develop life-long friendships, and get a head start on building an international network, especially for those interested in global business careers or working with others professionally on an international level. International networks can broaden job opportunities after graduation, too. In addition, students who study abroad will have a leg up from the competition when seeking employment as employers appreciate seeing study abroad programs on applications.
4. Build independence
The act of traveling can instill confidence in anyone through its tendency to require skills of independence. When participating in a study abroad program, students can enhance independence through travel and adapting to a new culture. As humans, gaining a sense of autonomy helps with discovering unique capabilities, trying new things, and understanding more about oneself. Embracing personal freedom can motivate further cultural and geographical curiosities, leading to unexpected opportunities off the beaten path.
5. Gain a more profound appreciation
Traveling and experiencing what other countries have to offer can heighten appreciation for not only different places around the world but also home. Returning home to the familiar after studying abroad for a semester or longer can be a bitter-sweet moment filled with appreciation for where the journey started and ended. Though adapting to life in another country over several months may become the new norm, the comfort of a friendly welcome home infuses a deeper appreciation for the local community, culture, and family.
About Bryn Carden
Bryn Carden is a versatile young entrepreneur with a deep sense of compassion and the desire to help make the world a better place. In 2017, she founded Styles for Smiles - a company selling bracelets to support the Smile Train Organization. The proceeds from selling Bryn's designs have already helped fund cleft palate repairs for 16 children in developing countries. BF Hats, another design brand Bryn is engaged in, donates a portion from every purchase to Ronald McDonald House of Dallas - combining Bryn's passion for style and philanthropy.