There have been entire studies conducted which investigate the long-term impact of studying abroad. Although we have talked about the effects that studying abroad can have on students, we did not specifically cover those universal, important lessons that stick with you throughout your life. That is what this article seeks to remedy.
We will primarily be looking at findings by Don DeGraaf, Cynthia Slagter, Kelly Larsen, as well as Elisa Ditta as published in their 2013 article. The text will be supplemented with other sources as well. Our goal is to provide a scientific and realistic overview of the type of impact that time spent studying abroad can have on individuals. Some of the findings may be exactly what you expect, though others may surprise you!
One of the most fascinating aspects of the long-term impact of studying abroad has to be how it alters our perceptions of what is and is not a good life. All too often we can get stuck chasing material goals and pleasures, thinking that an opulent lifestyle is what will ultimately make us happy. However, spending time abroad in an environment where we do not necessarily have access to the creature comforts we are commonly accustomed to can really shake up this belief.
Suddenly, we realize that we are happy with actually very little, perhaps a few good friends and a small dorm room with a diet of mostly instant noodles. This knowledge that we can be satisfied without having a lot of stuff is freeing. What is more, it teaches us that the things that really matter and make life meaningful are purpose, perseverance, and connection.
No matter how much we read books, watch movies, and listen to foreign music, there is simply no substitute for actually visiting a country and living there, such as when one is studying abroad. Doing so builds up an awareness and appreciation of the country’s culture, but it does one more very important thing, which is that it shows us the possibilities that lie out there.
Even if we do not visit every other country in the world after our studies, the fact that we went out of our own home environment and culture is enough to open up our horizons if we are receptive enough. This has the effect of nurturing within international students a global awareness that understands and welcomes the differences between people from various parts of the world. The kaleidoscope of humanity is appreciated for what it is and we start caring more and more about the issues that affect us on a global scale.
We have already written about confidence as being something that studying abroad no doubt instills in students, but here we want to expand a little bit more on that topic and talk more specifically about grounded confidence.
What we mean by grounded confidence is the type of belief in oneself that you acquire after managing to conquer difficulties. While studying abroad might be pleasant in many ways, there is no denying that the prospect of leaving your family and travelling to a foreign country to study for a couple of months or years is challenging, to say the least. Those who manage that feel that they are capable of facing the challenges life has for them and coming out on top. Another very important part of the long-term impact of studying abroad is that this grounded confidence is not loud or arrogant but rather quiet and reliable.
Even though we might be twenty or so years old, it is easy to remain a child while we are couched in the comfort of our own homes, especially if our parents still take care of us. Even if we are enrolled and studying in a university, that does not guarantee that we will mature fully.
However, studying abroad is different in that it forces us into an unfamiliar situation where we cannot rely on the same old strategies we have navigated life with up until then. Sure, our family might be just a phone call away, but it is different when they are not there physically to provide food, shelter, and an empathetic ear. Those who spend some time studying abroad have professed themselves to feel that the experience has helped them mature and prepared them for adult life.
As we can see from this article, studying abroad can have a long-lasting positive impact on students who opt for it. All of these wonderful things we have listed will serve to make you into a more balanced and experientially richer person.
To end things off, it is perhaps appropriate to mention that the study cites most students it interviewed as saying that their time spent abroad was one of if not the most formative experience of their lives, staying with them for years to come.
If you would like to explore the prospect of studying abroad yourself, then consider checking out some of our other pages. Other than articles that generally discuss studying abroad and its many benefits, we have specific tips and tutorials to make your life abroad easier and more manageable.
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