Studying abroad: The best investment for a student’s future


This photo shows two tourists holding up passports on street on sunny day. Taken on March 26, 2019 by Spencer Davis. Photo from Pexels.

The invaluable experience of studying abroad should be a part of every college student’s education. The opportunity to create lifelong memories, explore places and local cultures, make friends worldwide and learn new languages — all while getting college credit — helps foster valuable life skills. 

There aren’t many chances to go overseas for the length of an entire school year. Chico State’s study abroad programs have more than 200 locations in 40 countries on every continent except Antarctica. 

With many places to go when studying abroad, there is something to pique anyone’s interest. Whether you want to dive into Italy’s rich history of art and architecture, spend days relaxing by stunning beaches and rainforests in Brazil, indulge in tasty tapas and famous Spanish red wine in Spain, visit the ancient temples in Greece or see wildlife in Australia, the possibilities are endless.

The myth that is studying abroad costs a fortune isn’t always true. “The Study Abroad and Exchange Team has created the Study Abroad On The Cheap Flyer to highlight the least expensive programs available to students. There are some programs where students spend roughly the same amount or less than they would have at Chico State,” according to Chico State’s Study Abroad and Exchange FAQ page. The Study Abroad On The Cheap Flyer program offers popular destinations such as France, Costa Rica, Germany and Japan, even with a lower cost. 

Studying abroad allows students to gain a global perspective. By immersing in other cultures, we better understand the world and people around us. It is essential to be aware of what life is like in other parts of the world to broaden one’s perspective and get a bigger picture. There is no better way to absorb a country’s culture than living there. 

The education inside the classroom is another unique experience for students studying abroad. Students studying abroad may learn similar coursework for their major, but in ways they haven’t seen before. Learning in a different environment with different curricula and methods of teaching course material promotes a healthy change of pace. 

In the U.S., student expectations are highly focused on participation. To receive a passing grade in most U.S. college courses, the student must participate. This may mean emphasizing attendance, tests, presentations, and other in-class assignments for some professors. For other professors, this may mean emphasizing participation through homework, online discussions, and readings.

European Universities, for example, generally require less participation from students than in the U.S. “In Europe, classes focus on lectures, lots and lots of reading, and one or two major exams. Group projects and other activities are rare. In the UK, there are tutorials, in which there’s a group of 1 to three students, but they are not taught by a professor,” according to College Fashion

When students studying abroad challenge their brains to think differently than they are used to in the classroom, they become more prepared to persevere through unexpected challenges. Gaining new approaches to problem-solving isn’t just useful in the classroom but also a valuable skill to carry throughout life. Multiple problem-solving techniques are essential in personal life and relevant to virtually any occupational role. “80% of study abroad students reported that studying abroad allowed them to better adapt better to diverse work environments, and 84% of study abroad alumni felt their studies abroad helped them build valuable skills for the job market,” according to UC Merced Statistics

Problem-solving helps us effectively deal with issues, changes and improvements when things are not working as planned. Situations where problem-solving skills are crucial may include compromising with friends or co-workers after a disagreement, generating alternative ideas to correct mistakes at work and collaborating with others in group tasks. Knowing how to solve a task in a few ways can be very limiting, which is why problem-solving skills attained from studying abroad are helpful for success. 

Studying abroad is not only life-changing because of all the captivating places to see and fascinations to learn, but also from the personal growth that comes with living outside of one’s comfort zone. Venturing into an unknown environment forces students studying abroad to learn more about themselves.

The Institute for International Education of Students surveyed the long-term impact of studying abroad on students’ personal, professional and academic lives. Findings from the study concluded that 96% of students reported increased self-confidence.

There will be inevitable obstacles students studying abroad will encounter when adapting to a new way of life. For many students, studying abroad is the first time in their life they truly take care of themselves and navigate challenges independently. Overcoming challenges such as language barriers, adjusting to cultural differences and discomfort from being far from home builds self-sufficiency and confidence. 

Students studying abroad must adapt to their environment without a familiar support system, making them more independent. Increased independence brings more confidence in new life challenges and experiences. 

The lifelong lessons, valuable education and self-reformation that comes with studying abroad make it an incomparable experience that every college student should explore. 

Emily Russell can be reached at [email protected].