Why Should I Study Abroad?

The reviews left on Abroad101.com have made it possible to aggregate some really interesting information on student trends in study abroad. We’ve added a new portion to our review: after a student fills out the evaluation of their program, we’ve decided to ask them why they chose to study abroad, and what skills they think they learned during their time away.

We had about 1,500 responses to this survey when we were putting together our presentation on International Education Research for a NAFSA poster fair.

Out of the ten responses we gave as options, the top five reasons for going abroad were:

1. Travel to a new place

2. Understand a new culture

3. Gain global perspective of your home culture

4. Explore something new

5. Enhance resume & increase job opportunities

Only about half of the students chose to study abroad to learn a foreign language, and even less to take classes in their major. About 15% claimed to be exploring their family’s heritage, and fewer than 10% felt they were pressured into their decision from their peers.

These responses indicate student’s desire to learn more about the world, and how they fit in on a global level. For the most part, this is an individual decision. Up to 25% of these students have never left the United States before choosing to study abroad. This is a huge leap for them, and they are diving in head-first.

What do students get out of studying abroad?

We listed 12 competencies and asked which the students identified with having gained while abroad. These skills can be called cultural competencies, and are transferable as life and job skills across various situations.

Students claimed to be more independent and confident, and better able to adapt to new situations. They got to know a new country and gained global perspective of their home. For many, the experience had a positive impact on their major and professional goals. The majority of students increased their desire to go abroad again, on their way to participating in a global culture.

So, if you need any more support to convince Mom and Dad that studying abroad is a good idea, and it will help you gain valuable skills, show them this. Have them go on Abroad101.com and read the student reviews themselves, and they will see what all these students are saying about their experience and will want you to have the same!