by Liberty Stembridge, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 21st March, 2019
Studying abroad is something many people think about, but never actually get round to, which is a shame, because there are so many benefits to studying abroad - more than you'd think. If you're lucky enough to be in a position where you can study abroad - here's why you should go for it.
Probably the most obvious benefit to studying abroad, but it deserves a mention. For every student who's wrestled with whether they should travel or study, gaining your education or part of your education abroad is the perfect happy medium.
You can live in an entirely new country and truly get to know a completely different culture to your own. In your down time you can explore the rest of the country and make friends with locals or other international students.
There's nothing like travel to open your mind and educate you in an entirely different way to standard education, but now you don't have to choose between travel and school - you can do both.
Living in a different country to the one you grew up in requires a completely different type of independence. If this is your first time living away from home to study, you'll have to adjust to a whole new level of independence, especially if you're living in a country that doesn't speak your own language.
You'll need to organise accommodation, buy food, make friends and adjust to life in completely different surroundings. Although this can seem scary at first, once you've done it, you'll find that you'll naturally be a lot more capable and independent than before.
Employers love to see that freshly graduated students have pushed themselves during their studies and learnt from their experience. Independence, confidence and experience are greatly admired during a job interview, and studying abroad can provide you with all of these things. You may even, by the end of your trip, be able to add "bilingual" to your list of skills. Studying abroad can set you apart from other candidates who went the more traditional route, and employes are always looking for more diverse skills and knowledge to add to their workforce.
With the exception of moving to a country that speaks the same language as you, studying abroad gives you the rare opportunity of living and working in a country for an extended period of time, meaning you can immerse yourself in their language, which is hands-down the best way to learn a new language.
The comfort is a nice place to be, but it stifles you. Staying where everything is familiar and easy might be nice, but you won't grow as a person, or learn nearly as much as you will when you push yourself that out of that box and start exploring.
Studying abroad is one of the best ways to do this - not only are you advancing yourself academically and intellectually by furthering your education, you're also pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, sometimes very far out. You'll be forced to make new friends, learn new things and adjust to the habits of a new culture.
If you're going to study abroad, you need to understand what you'll be undertaking, the possible downsides and risks you may be taking, or you won't be able to make an objective decision. Although studying abroad is an incredible experience for most people, it's not for everyone - so go in prepared.
Loneliness is a common problem for students abroad, especially in the beginning. If you haven't made close friends yet, it can feel quite isolating to be on your own in a foreign country. For some students, being away from family and friends back home without being to get back easily is very difficult to deal with, especially if you're in different time zones.
Studying abroad can be very expensive. Although there are a lot of exchange programs, student visas, and scholarships available to students, there are still added costs like living expenses and flights to and from your destination. Consider your options carefully before deciding to study abroad.
Culture shock is another common problem for international students, although it does usually pass after a while. If you're going to study in a country that it completely different to your own, you may find you get a bit of culture shock to begin with.
You'll know you've got it if you start feeling overwhelmed and disoriented by just how different everything is, and you may start to experience feelings of homesickness. However, there are some studies that suggest that culture shock is good for you, and is an important part of adjusting to life in a new country, so it's not all bad.
Deciding where to study abroad is a huge decision not to be made lightly, whether you're leaving for a month or several years. Here are some of the top study abroad destinations to help you make your decision.
Hong Kong is an international hub and a favourite with international relations, politics, business and economics students. As China becomes an ever more powerful country, Hong Kong too is burgeoning economically and in popularity.
It's culturally diverse, with strong influences from it's time as a British colony. Here you can spend your free time wandering through a the bustling metropolis, buying tea from local street vendors, visiting museums and art galleries, incredible beaches, or hiking up tropical mountains if you're up for an adventure.
Hong Kong has several world-class universities to pick from, all offering opportunities for international students. Once you're past the culture shock, studying in Hong Kong is an incredibly enriching adventure for any student.
Sydney is a bright and culturally rich city, with plenty to see and do. For people wanting to study abroad but hesitant about moving to a country that doesn't speak their language - Australia is the perfect option.
With beautiful beaches, world-class surf and a friendly, lively city to live in, Sydney is the perfect option for any student looking to get away and have some fun. With two excellent universities, The University of Sydney and The University of New South Wales, Sydney offers plenty of options for international students and a visa for students allowing you to work and support your studies.
New York is the city that never sleeps, and you probably won't be getting a lot of sleep either if you study here - there's so much to see and do. Settle into city life in once of the most famous cities in the world, with five boroughs packed with incredible nightlife, bars, museums, theatres and incredible food from all over the world.
Escape the madness with a trip to central park or study in one of the many world-famous coffee shops. Roadtrip the rest of America in your spare time, when you're not studying at one of New York's many educational institutions.
Not interested in the heat of Australia? Why not try New Zealand, in particular it's capital - Auckland. With incredible natural beauty and friendly locals, Auckland is becoming increasingly popular with students who want to adventure and study.
With activities like bungee jumping and white water rafting just around the corner, you'll never have a boring weekend. No matter what you want to study, Auckland has an option, with a uniquely diverse range of educational opportunities as well as scholarships for international students.
The University of Auckland in particular is well known for having a diverse international student body, so you'll likely be making friends from all over the world.
With excellent transport links to the rest of Europe and a laid-back, bougie typically french vibe, Paris is a long-time favourite for study abroad students. Brush up on your french as you stroll through cobbles streets and past the stunning parisian architecture.
Plus, Paris is well known for its world class education and is a favourite for humanities students, being surrounded by centuries of history, art and culture with the rest of Europe at your doorstep. Take class trips to the Louvre and Musee D'orsay, and chill out afterwards at a chic bar with your new friends. Although Paris is one of the pricier cities to study in, the price is totally worth it.
Berlin is a lively and youthful city, perfect for anyone who wants to have fun while they study. It's affordable, beautiful and is home to some of the most distinguished universities in the world.
The distinct german culture and way of life provides a unique experience in a place that's both safe and fun, with low crime rates and excellent nightlife. Berlin is also known for being one of the most welcoming cities for international students, with many courses available in english and some of them available for next to nothing in tuition fees.
It's the dream of many a prospective study abroad student to live and study in London, and why wouldn't you? It's one of the largest, most diverse and most active cities in the world.
There's so much to see and learn in London that you couldn't possible do it all even if you lived there your whole life. Many of London's highly ranked educational institutions offer courses for international students, so that you can live and learn in one of the most multicultural, historically rich and beautiful cities in the world.
Japan is one of the most highly coveted destinations for students looking to study abroad. The fascinating history, beautifully unique culture and modern mixed with traditional aesthetic of Tokyo creates a fabulous atmosphere for an international student.
Anyone who's been to Japan knows it takes more than a quick vacation to fully appreciate the culture and traditions that are embedded into Japanese life.
On a practical level, Tokyo is also one of the best places to study abroad simply for how easy and practical everything is set up to be. It has one of the best transport systems in the world, accompanied by some excellent universities and amazing food.
Tokyo is known for its work-hard culture, where most people work or study for long hours, so the city is well set up for the tired student, whether you need a night out to relax, or a coffee at 3 am to pull through an all-nighter.
Deciding to study abroad is a big decision, and the length of time you choose to go away for is equally as important as where you choose to go.
Unfortunately, no one can predict what the future will be like, you have no idea whether you'll enjoy your time and want to stay longer, or be satisfied with a shorter stay.
With that in mind, you simply have to follow your intuition and logic when it comes to deciding how long to study abroad for. Generally you have three options: complete an entire course abroad, stay for one year, or stay for a semester.
The idea of completing an entire degree in a foreign country is scary to a lot of people, but there are often many benefits to it. If you haven't already applied to and enrolled in a degree, choosing to study your entire degree abroad may still be an option to you.
Many students go overseas to study a very specific subject, or because their chosen country has lower tuition fees. Although the whole process may be daunting at first, there are plenty of options for students who want to study overseas.
If you live in the European Union, you are most likely eligible to study in any of the other countries in the EU (provided you meet the entry requirements of course). Many American students are choosing to study in Canada or even as far as Australia to complete their degree, so there are plenty of options available to you.
One of the most popular study abroad options is to do a semester abroad. Many universities run semester abroad programs by partnering up with other universities across the world, and this can help to smooth the whole process, making the transition seamless.
With a semester, you have enough time to explore a new place, learn about a new culture and settle into studying, without it being so long that you start to get homesick. For many students this is also the most financially viable option, as loans from your home country can often still be used to finance your time abroad.
Another popular is to study abroad for a year. For some university course this can even be a requirement. This gives you the opportunity to truly experience what it's like to live in another country, as if you had lived there your whole life.
Many students even say by the end of their year abroad that they never wanted to leave. A year abroad can be more beneficial for your overall academic career and personal life too, as you'll have more time to settle in, get used to classes and make some friends.