The Benefits Of Study Abroad

By Mary M. Dwyer, Ph.D. & Courtney K. Peters,
“It will change your life. You’ll come again a new person.” For years, the advantages of examine abroad have been described in these words. Everyone within the examine overseas area believed it might tremendously influence a pupil’s life, but the exact long-term benefits were unknown – until now.

The first large-scale survey to discover the long-term impact of examine overseas on a scholar’s private, professional, and tutorial life reveals that research overseas positively and unequivocally influences the profession path, world-view, and self-confidence of scholars.

The Institute for the International Education of Students (IES Abroad) surveyed alumni from all IES Abroad examine abroad applications from 1950 to 1999. Regardless of the place students studied and for how long, the info from the greater than three,400 respondents (a 23 percent response rate) shows that studying overseas is usually a defining moment in a teenager’s life and continues to impact the participant’s life for years after the expertise.

Personal Growth
“Overall, I learned much more about myself in that one semester than I did within the three and a half years in my house faculty because of the unique house by which I realized, experienced, and spent exploring another culture,” says Carolyn Valtos (IES Abroad Adelaide, 1992).

An overwhelming majority of respondents echoed Valtos’ feeling. When asked about personal progress, ninety seven % stated finding out overseas served as a catalyst for increased maturity, 96 percent reported elevated self-confidence, 89 p.c stated that it enabled them to tolerate ambiguity, and 95 % said that it has had a lasting impression on their world view.

Findings additionally present that examine overseas results in long-lasting friendships with other U.S. students and still impacts present relationships. More than half the respondents are still involved with U.S. pals met whereas studying abroad, and seventy three % said the experience continues to affect the selections they make of their household life.

Alexa Sand (IES Abroad Milan, 1989), who remains to be very close to U.S. pals she met overseas ten years in the past, explains, “I think the shared experience of dwelling totally immersed in one other tradition made these friendships significantly poignant and enduring.”

Intercultural Development
Study overseas educators usually assert that one of many targets of study overseas is to coach future world leaders to be more practical, respectful of other cultures and political and financial methods, and willing to take a stand for the world’s welfare, not just what benefits a specific country. The survey findings indicate that research overseas is succeeding in its mission.

When questioned about intercultural improvement, 98 percent of respondents said that research overseas helped them to raised understand their own cultural values and biases, and 82 % replied that examine overseas contributed to their growing a more refined means of trying on the world.

“The experience of residing and finding out in one other country was so eye-opening … [it] tested preconceptions and habits I wasn’t even conscious had been so ingrained in me,” says Cynthia Perras (IES Abroad Paris, 1981).

It is critical to notice that these intercultural benefits aren’t fleeting however proceed to impression members’ lives long after their time abroad. Almost all the respondents (94 percent) reported that the expertise continues to influence interactions with individuals from totally different cultures, and 23 p.c nonetheless maintain contact with host-country pals. Ninety p.c stated that the expertise influenced them to seek out a larger variety of pals, and sixty four % mentioned that it additionally influenced them to discover other cultures.

“It has been nearly ten years since I was a pupil in Vienna, however not a single day goes by the place its impact is not felt in my life,” says Jason Thornberg (IES Abroad Vienna, 1994). “My time there essentially changed how I view the world and has given me the power to view the world, and its points, from a quantity of views.”

Education and Career Attainment
“My semester [abroad] launched me into a private and professional involvement with Spain that has already lasted 25 years. A political science lecture in Madrid about U.S. and Spanish involvement in an obscure struggle in Sahara … led to a graduate fellowship to Spain and North Africa, which led to work as a foreign correspondent based in Spain,” says Gary Abramson (IES Abroad Madrid, 1978).

It is noteworthy that nearly all of respondents gave educational and professional accounts just like Abramson’s. When questioned about educational pursuits, 87 % of respondents mentioned that research overseas influenced subsequent educational experiences, sixty three p.c mentioned that it influenced their decision to increase or change academic majors, and sixty four percent reported that it influenced their choice to attend graduate school. Nearly half of all respondents have engaged in worldwide work or volunteerism since learning overseas.

“An complete vary of skilled alternatives have opened as much as me in latest years, partly due to the expertise and internship experiences I gained,” adds Joydeep Sengupta (IES Abroad Madrid, 1998).

Similar to Sengupta’s experience, three-quarters of respondents asserted that they acquired talent units abroad that influenced their profession path, and 62 p.c stated that finding out overseas ignited an interest in a career direction pursued after the experience.

Longer Stays Mean Greater Benefits
Consistent with nationwide examine abroad statistics, the survey found that college students are usually learning overseas for a shorter duration, with the number of full-year college students declining dramatically. In the Fifties and Sixties, seventy two % of respondents studied for a full 12 months, however solely 20 percent of respondents did so within the 1990s. The number of students learning for less than 10 weeks tripled from the Nineteen Fifties and 1960s to the 1990s.

For many years, typical wisdom in the examine abroad field has been that “more is healthier” — the longer college students study abroad, the more significant the tutorial and cultural improvement and personal development benefits. According to survey outcomes, the “extra is healthier” concept holds true. However, results of the examine additionally suggest that programs of a minimal of six weeks in duration may also be enormously successful in producing essential tutorial, inter- and intra-personal, career, and intercultural growth outcomes. These findings are significant contemplating the present national enhance in students attending shorter applications. Students attending full-year, semester, and summer season applications all report the following benefits: (Please go to for all statistical charts.)

Although all students benefit from the examine abroad expertise, there are a few decisions that students could make which have the potential to extend their long-term language and profession benefits.

Continued language utilization was greatest among respondents who lived in a homestay, with forty two % saying they now use a language other than English on a daily basis. Students who lived in an apartment or a residence corridor with native college students reported results barely lower than homestay participants (38 and 32 p.c respectively). However, the outcomes of those that lived in an condo with other U.S. college students lagged far behind the rest, with only 18 percent reporting that they use a overseas language regularly.

Importance of Internships
For college students who hope to realize the most profession impression from examine abroad, outcomes indicate that they should choose an internship as a half of their curriculum. Remarkably, 70 percent of intern respondents reported that examine overseas ignited curiosity in a profession direction pursued after the expertise, in comparability with 60 % of non-intern respondents. In addition, 83 % mentioned that it allowed them to amass ability sets that influenced their profession path, in comparison with seventy five % who did not intern.

Although there may be not always a big statistical distinction between students who attended local college courses and these that didn’t, you will need to mention that students who attended programs at the local college did expertise greater long-term language benefits and had been more more likely to work or volunteer overseas than their counterparts. The greatest difference between the two teams is in the space of relationships. Of those that attended local university classes, 31 p.c nonetheless keep contact with host-country friends, compared to sixteen percent of respondents who did not examine at the native university.

A Lifetime of Benefits
Few other experiences in life have proven to internet such a optimistic and sustainable impression. With examine abroad offering so many life-changing and enduring educational, profession, intercultural, personal, and social benefits, students ought to rigorously think about studying abroad when trying to find a school and during their collegiate career. Students ought to question potential schools about the research overseas programs they provide and learn the way competitive the application process is and if grades and financial aid transfer. In addition, schools, dad and mom, and employers should encourage and allow students to study overseas.

As Michael Preziosi (IES Abroad Madrid, 1978) says, “My wife and I feel so strongly in regards to the value of this experience that we now have told our two daughters that a semester abroad while in school is an absolute requirement for each of them. It is not an experience to be missed.”

Please go to for a whole copy of this text with the accompanying statistical charts.

MARY M. DWYER, Ph.D. is the president of IES Abroad, a quantity one examine abroad and internships provider with more than sixty five years of experience.

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