Universities are a pathway to success, in more ways than one and it is not always about the course nor is it about qualifications. Choosing to study abroad is becoming increasingly popular and common, and the benefits that students who graduate overseas are beyond measure. Aside from becoming self reliant and more independent than they would have been, if they stayed close to the comforts of home, international students also harness better leadership skills.
With our cultural landscape being shaped by technology and accessibility, people have begun to take advantage of the growing international market. Someone who has experience with another culture becomes useful in bartering a deal or developing stronger relationships, due to their mutual understanding.
In a paper published by Forbes back in 2016, Alain Benichou, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in France and vice president of Strategy and Solutions at IBM Paris, was quoted saying, “studying and living abroad is a must, not just to acquire language skill, but in order to become truly bi-cultural. In a global economy even if the business is done with less boundaries the culture remains local.”
Furthermore, being exposed to another culture allows one to be more self aware by having better insight of human behaviour. It encourages one to think from a different perspective. Through various experiences that one learns to deal with also builds self confidence, and it is not something that can be taught or imitated. It is a genuine belief in oneself that stems from being a capable person.
However, in order to reap those benefits, Huffington Post discouraged against the idea of exploring the country while the students are there, pointing out in an article that while it is possible for anyone to travel for months on end, it is a gift to be able to live in a new country for an extended period of time and anyone with the opportunity to do so should. It truly allows a person to immerse themselves into the lifestyle and culture of a place that a traveller cannot even begin to comprehend.
A survey showed that employers favoured those who have spent time studying abroad as they return with a set of soft skills that others do not posses, such as “creative problem solving experience in unfamiliar situations”, “adaptability within culturally diverse environments”, “excellent listening and communication skills” and last but not least, “practical knowledge of a specific culture and language”.
Networking is a crucial part in any one industry. Whether one is starting their own business or have a product to sell, it helps to know someone who already has a foot through the door. Being an international student also allows one to network and make global contacts which may prove useful in the long run. Anushka Fernando, a postgraduate who works for a charity shared that, “International places draw international people. I found a diverse community at Harvard, where students came from different walks of life from disparate corners of the world. The work I do now has been boosted by them, for example by enabling me to recruit to volunteers to work on projects.”
That is but one example of how international studies helped with one’s career. Paige Arnof-Fenn credited her time abroad to her success. Her cultural experience made her “culturally sensitive and relevant” and she believes that she “got better assignments, faster promotions, and more interesting projects because of it”. She is now the CEO of Mavens & Moguls. She also said that having global contacts allowed her to kick start her business, saying that they “have been instrumental in my career with local intelligence, product launch support, [and] referrals “.
Another example landed her dream job as part of her post-grad program. Instructed to find a four-month internship, Melissa Andrade found one all the way in Italy that gave her access to hands on experience in her industry during Milan Fashion Week. Plus, she picked up Italian in that short period of time and it made her extremely desirable to employers. This led her to her dream job – a celebrity and entertainment news journalist.
Needless to say, spending time abroad brightens up any CV and is beneficial to personal growth. Those that are unable to afford or do not want to bear the costs of this experience have a rather unconventional way of emulating it: by choosing a university popular with international students. Through interaction, one can also expose oneself to different cultures. However, nothing can replace the actual experience of studying abroad.
Germany, UK, Netherlands and France are among the top picks and there are many organizations that are more than happy to help with visa application and the paperwork needed in order to study abroad. Keystone Academic is one of the popular ones, and they help with choosing the best institutions for each individual’s needs and talents.
With all these resources and countless benefits, parents are becoming more keen on sending their children overseas in hopes that they will return as worldly and well rounded individuals.