Studying abroad is not only an exciting adventure to a far away land, but the biggest learning experience you’ll ever encounter. You’ll gain an abundance of skills that will help you in PR and in life. There is a never-ending list of reasons to go abroad, but I’ve narrowed it down to five main ones.
- Studying abroad improves your communication skills:
This may seem obvious, but studying abroad enhances your communication skills, even if you aren’t studying a foreign language. Having knowledge of a foreign language is a valuable skill in every career as the working world becomes more globalized. No matter where you go you’ll encounter a diverse set of people with a different vocabulary and different body language than you. Learning how to live in another culture and communicate with people from that culture increases your awareness of the effects your words have on others, which is the basis of PR.
- You gain independence:
Being independent is an ideal we all strive for, but it’s definitely not easy to achieve. Putting an ocean or a couple thousand miles between you and your family and friends is a great way to jump-start your independence. It’s a lot easier than it sounds because independence sneaks up on you while you’re abroad. You’re so busy trying to navigate a new city, learn the language, find the grocery store, make new friends, have fun and see the city sights that you don’t realize you’ve accomplished this all on your own.
- You become self-resilient:
Though studying abroad is a fun and exhilarating experience, it can also be challenging. You’re in a new place, surrounded by new people and possibly a new language. That can all be very unsettling. Almost all study abroad students experience some form of culture shock. Culture shock is a feeling of fear or disorientation to your new surroundings. Learning to break through culture shock and celebrate the differences between these new places and your home country is an amazing experience that can illustrate how self-resilient and adaptable you are. Resiliency is a great skill to have in any field of work, but especially PR. If your campaign doesn’t go well you’ll have to push through that negative experience and continue to work hard.
- You are able to see your own culture differently:
When you step out of your culture and into a new one, you see some particularities of your own culture that you may not have noticed before. It’s easy to see your own culture as absolute, and even a little superior, but with the new point of view that studying abroad provides you can create your own views and not be tied down by what one culture thinks. You’ll need your own views in PR to provide the public with an original perspective that isn’t defined by any one culture.
- Studying abroad gives you an advantage in the job market:
Studying abroad will give you life experience, which is hard to find in a classroom. You will learn so many life skills that you wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to gain until after finishing college or starting a career. Having study abroad on your resume shows that you are not afraid of challenges, are curious about new cultures and tolerant of other people’s behavior. That puts you ahead of the game. According to IES Abroad, 97% of their study abroad alumni find a job within one year of graduation and only 49% of non-study abroad students find a job in that amount of time.
This list just scratches the surface of all the amazing opportunities studying abroad offers. Just close you’re eyes and think about that one place you can’t get out of your heart; somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Now go out there and explore, it will only help you in the long run, plus you might have a little fun along the way.
Kaitlin Webb is a junior strategic communication major. Follow her on Twitter @kakewebb1!