Many universities in the UK and around the world give their students the opportunity to study abroad. For me it was very difficult to find out about our study abroad program and once I had, even more difficult to get all the papers signed and get my place confirmed. But in the end I did it and I got my place in Madrid for the second semester in 2013. I felt like all of this hassle was actually a test to see if I really wanted to go abroad, maybe it was. Studying in Madrid was possibly the best 6 months of my life and I would not change it for the world.
Many people have the opportunity to go abroad but in the end they don’t go ahead with it or bother to look too far into it. I say that you have to, it’s your golden opportunity which can teach you so much about life and culture. And if your uni is in Europe and you decide to study here in a country in the European union, you even get a free grant to go with it. So why wouldn’t you?!
Here are 10 reasons why I think you absolutely must study abroad:
1. Meet new friends
Well it’s pretty cliché but it’s true. On your year abroad you will make friends for life with memories which no one can take away from you. You will be set up in a new country with new classes, teachers, housemates and people from all over the world. In such an intense situation and when you feel a little bit lost in another country, it’s the best time to make new friends. And they will be much more international and diverse than your friends at home! Learn the best ways to meet expats abroad.
2. Learn a new language
Depending where you choose to study, you can learn a new language. Even if it’s just enough to get by. Living and indulging yourself into a new country is the best way to improve your language skills. I moved to Spain without speaking a word of Spanish and now, very slowly, but 2 and a half years on I can have a fairly complex conversation and get by here on my own. I am still working on it, but I would definitely say that living here has been the main way that I’ve learned the language. Talking to people works better than lessons, I can assure you.
3. Gain independence
After moving to Spain alone, and living in a new house with a bunch of people I did not know nor could speak a word to, I felt like I gained a lot of independence. I realised that I can do things on my own if I just try. It’s easy to rely on other people or the familiar world around you if you have it there, but when you don’t you are forced to do things for yourself. I feel now that I can do many more things alone, I’m not scared to travel alone, to live in a flat with unknown people or go out and do the things no one else wanted to do with me.
4. Improve your CV
Employers really admire people who have been away to study abroad because it shows independece, commitment and confidence. It shows that you have adapted to life in another country and culture and will be able to deal with similar experiences in the work place. It shows you know how to deal with different kinds of people and it shows that you are adventurous. In the end I was actually looking for a job in the same country where I studied abroad so of course, that helped me a lot, but even back home, employers will really like that you studied and lived in another country.
5. Become more Cultured
Living in another culture will make you more cultured too! Living abroad will teach you a lot, from the classes you go to, but mostly from all the people you meet. For me it wasn’t only Spanish culture which I learned a lot about, it was also Mexican, French, German and Italian. I felt like I could understand people better and know more about where they came from. I also learned that a lot of the sterotypes that you hear about, can be true, including of course, my own. So that was pretty humerous to see 🙂 Read about 5 things I love about Spanish culture if you want to find out more.
6. Really discover a new country
It’s completely different to live in another country than to simply visit it on holiday. You really see the place for what it is and not just the hotel pool and bar. You learn about the people and how they act, the food, the habits, the strengths and weaknesses, and how life goes by in this place. It’s really interesting to see another country and compare it to that of your own.
7. Meet people from all over the world
As I stated earlier, my erasmus was not only about meeting Spanish people from the country I was living in. It was about meeting all kinds of people from countries I’d never been to before. I was thrown into a house of 7 mexicans who didn’t speak a word of English and I learned a lot about their culture and unsurprisingly, their drinking habits! I later moved into another flat with French, Turkish, Spanish and Chileans and had some fun experiences with them too. At the same time, in my class I was studying with people from Lithuania, Holland, Germany, Italy and many more places all over the world. It was really amazing and I have never seen so many international people all in one place together before. One of my favourite quotes is ‘ I am not original, for I am a small piece of every person I have ever met’.
8. Broaden your mind
This sounds pretty cheesy, but it’s true. This is maybe the most important reason for me to study abroad. You cannot stay in one place your whole life and expect to understand everything that’s going on in the world. We learn from experience and from all the people that we meet. After my erasmus I didn’t that moving to another city was a very big deal, I didn’t worry about new cultures and I didn’t judge people the way I might have in the past. I felt like I had really opened my mind.
9. Become less afraid of travel
Before I moved to Spain for my study abroad program, even going on holiday seemed like a rather big deal to me. It seemed impossible to consider doing it alone or too far away from home. Not to mention doing it with a little amount of money. My erasmus taught me that it is possible to travel without heaps of money, it’s just about having the will to go. Travelling is not so difficult and there are many ways of doing it without breaking the bank. Like staying with couchsurfers, eating meals made yourself from the supermarket, getting around by car sharing with blablacar or other cheaper forms of transport.
10. Have fun
I had the time of my life in my erasmus in Madrid. I drank more than I ever have done before and partied so hard I was surprised how my body could handle it. But that’s what it’s about! We only do this once, we only live once and we may only get this chance to live abroad once. So seize it with all you can and have a f*cking great time. I remember waking up everyday and thinking, wow I never want to go home. And in a way I never did really go home. I made this place my home, I made Spain my new home and I’m still living here to this day.
Have you ever studied abroad? What did you learn from it? If you’re considering studying abroad and you feel like asking me anything at all, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you 🙂
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