Studying abroad will help you see the world in a new light. “Seeing the way others live teaches you not only to appreciate their way of life, but also gives you new perspective on the way you live yours,” says Brandy Herrera, who grew up in Chicago and is now studying at the London School of Economics. “You learn to not only draw distinctions between your cultures, but you also learn to find commonalities, and to connect despite your differences.”
A new understanding of time
Attitudes to time vary around the world. What’s considered polite in Japan or Sweden, for instance, might seem a little too keen in other parts of the world. But it’s not all about punctuality; approaches to the actual studying vary hugely too, with different amounts of time allocated to seminars and private study. Fitting in with a new regime will keep you on your toes, and may even inspire you to get a better grip on your time when you get back home.
Saving up for a foreign trip is difficult, especially if your busy study schedule means that you don’t have much time for paid work. Though whether you scrape together funds from a couple of part-time jobs, or launch your own crowdfunding campaign with a site like Project Travel, you’ll finish up feeling pretty smug – and can then look forward to blasting your savings away on one unforgettable study abroad program.
“I want other students to know that community help is always there,” says Brandy. “Be it through local businesses or chambers of commerce, there are plenty of people who are more than happy to help students get abroad.”
There are loads of travel articles devoted to "living like a local" but the truth is, there’s only one way to do that properly – and that’s to become a local yourself. Spend time studying abroad and you’ll get to experience life exactly as the local people do, from stocking up on groceries at run-of-the-mill shops to attending hush-hush gigs and art exhibitions at small, quirky venues that few short-term visitors get to see.
Reduced (or non-existent) tuition fees
This depends on where you choose to study, of course, but you may actually be able to save money by studying abroad. Germany, Sweden, Norway and Finland are among the countries offering free or very cheap education to foreign students.
Interesting new friends
Apart from meeting local people who know their city inside out, you’ll also get to meet like-minded foreign students who’ve decided to expand their horizons. Even if you’re only abroad for a couple of weeks or a single semester, the chances are that you’ll come away with a whole bunch of new friends, each with different stories to tell. And, if you’re lucky, they’ll have a sofa for you to sleep on the next time you go travelling.
This article is part of a continuing series covering study abroad programs with Project Travel, a company that helps students of all ages tap into the funding potential of their communities. Visit projecttravel.com/go/rough-guides for more information.