3 answers

What is it like to study abroad?

Asked San Carlos, California

I am thinking about studying abroad while I am in college with a business administration major. I was wondering what it is like to study abroad. Is it a good experience? Is there something that you learn while in a foreign country studying than just staying at one university for four years. #business #travel #study-abroad

3 answers

Britney’s Answer

Updated Atlanta, Georgia

Studying abroad is a great experience that I would highly recommend. I've studied in Ecuador and Australia, and I have interned in Panama.

The benefits of studying abroad are numerous. Living in a different country allows you to gain a more global perspective. You get to learn the customs, language, culture and landscape of a new country. If one of your goals is to learn a new language, then living in a country where that language is spoken is a great way to solidify your language skills and learn the nuances of a language that are impossible to learn in the classroom.

If you are interested in going into business then studying abroad will definitely help you since we live in such a global economy. Learning to work within the customs of a different country is a valuable asset to have, and it also translates into how you interact at home. Living in another country forces you to become aware of your own cultural customs and how you interact with others in order to work well in that environment. You will hopefully come home with a new awareness of yourself and others.

Besides all of the academic and career benefits of studying abroad, it is an amazing opportunity to travel and learn about a new country. You may not have a chance ever again to totally immerse yourself in a new country for four months. It is an opportunity to truly learn about a country in a way that you can't get from simply traveling to a country for a week.

It is difficult for me to give you an answer as to what studying abroad is like because that will depend on where you choose to study abroad. I would definitely recommend really researching different programs before deciding. Some things to consider are living situation (homestay vs apartment housing), classes you will be taking, and just information about the country in general (customs, cuisine, travel opportunities). I would also say that there is a difference between traveling to a country and living in a country. Some countries are definitely harder to live in than others, and you should be real with yourself as to how you think you would handle living in a country that is extremely different from the US. I honestly think that these are amazing experiences no matter how difficult they are because they help you grow as a person in ways that you can't imagine until you go through it. I would recommend living in a country that is really different with a language other than English, but I understand not everyone feels comfortable doing that.

If you have the opportunity to study abroad, take it!

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Thanks for the info!
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Thanks for all this information
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I have had a lot of experience with traveling to Ireland seeing as I have relatives there so I kind of know about different customs. I think that I may want to study abroad in Europe. Is it difficult to learn the language in another country if it is not english? Would that classes be taught in that countries primary language? Thanks for all your help
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My comment ended up being too long, so check out my answer below :)
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Thanks for all the help
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Thank you Britney this is really interesting!
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Thanks for the really in-depth answer. Very good info

Britney’s Answer

Updated Atlanta, Georgia

It depends on a few different things. You most likely can find a program where you can take classes in English or basic language classes of the primary language of that country. It really just depends on the country though. It might be a country where a lot of people also speak English, but it also might not be depending on where you want to go. Not being able to communicate can be a very frustrating experience, but often it is a worthwhile experience that really helps you learn more about others and non-verbal communication. Plus it can be a kick in the butt to really try and learn the language of that country. I really would recommend though to try and have at least a basic knowledge of a language anywhere you travel, especially if not a lot of English is spoken there. I will always say studying abroad is a good idea no matter what, because I think even frustrating, difficult experiences help you grow as a person

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Thank you for the advice, Britney. This is definitely something I will keep in mind
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Thank you for all you help, advice, and sharing your experience

Britney’s Answer

Updated Atlanta, Georgia

I think it would depend on what language it is. From what I understand Chinese is a lot harder to learn than Spanish. The difficulty of a language would definitely depend on your background. For example, if you have studied a language in high school or in college for a few years before you go to a country to learn more, you will probably be able to learn more than if you are just beginning to learn in that country. Plus your experience will be a lot more pleasant in general because you will have a basic understanding of the language, so you can do things like ask for and understand directions, order food, and make friends. A lot of programs have specific requirements as far as the number of classes you must take before going to a country where English is not the primary language. Whether or not you take classes in English or another language will depend on the program and your grasp on the language. If you can speak at a higher level, you can take more classes that are beyond basic language and grammar classes like literature, political science, anthropology etc. Also if you have a pretty good grasp on a language, there is the possibility that you could find a program that would allow you to complete an internship in a different country, which is an amazing opportunity if your school or a program you find offers it.

Also, if you don't speak another language, there are definitely opportunities in English speaking countries, but just consider that a lot of other English speakers who don't speak a different language are also applying for these opportunities. If you currently do not speak another language there are plenty of opportunities to learn! If you are still in high school, consider enrolling in a language class if your school offers it and you can still enroll (even if it's your senior year!). Definitely take a foreign language in college (a lot of schools even require it!) Look for volunteer programs where you participate as a conversation partner for someone learning English that speaks a language you are interested in. Also there are plenty of online resources that I love like duolingo.com. It is a super great website for learning languages, and it is free! I'm currently working on my Portuguese here! Also listen to music, and watch TV shows in the languages you want to learn. If you want to learn Spanish, try watching soaps in Spanish. They might be melodramatic, but they can definitely help you build on language skills.

Also! One last thing I would urge you to do when deciding to learn a new language is to consider the utility of the language. How useful will it be for your career and life goals? How many people speak it outside of the country you will be living in? Will you have opportunities to interact with others who speak this language outside of that country? For example, populations that speak Spanish and Portuguese are growing in the US, and knowing these languages might be useful and easier to learn since you can find opportunities to practice, but you might have a harder time finding large amounts people who speak Norwegian or other European languages outside of their countries.

You might also consider whether you see yourself living and working outside of the US, and you'll want to learn the language of that country. Researching about these countries, and their job opportunities relative to your interests and goals would be helpful. Also considering how difficult it is to find a job and establish citizenship is a good idea especially in European countries. Studying abroad might confirm whether or not you want to stay there. In every place that I have studied/interned, people have returned to live/work.

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Thanks for all this great information. I took 3 years of Spanish in high school but am not taking it this year so I am a little rusty. I'm pretty good at understanding what people are saying but I struggle sometimes with putting my own sentences together. Thanks for all your thought and time you put into answering my question
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You're welcome! Once and if you decide to start taking Spanish again, you'll probably remember more than you think. Definitely make sure you test into the right level in college, so you don't end up in class that's below your level. Also really check out duolingo, because it's a pretty fun way to practice language in your spare time. It's kind of like a game where you earn points and beat levels. Super helpful refresher if you want it!
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Yeah I did it a while ago but have been really busy at school with getting ready for AP exams
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Thanks for the info!
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If you don't know the language, but are interested in learning about the culture in a place where you don't speak the language, is studying abroad still a good idea?
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My comment was too long again! Check out my answer below
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