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Going abroad - But why? What for?

Going abroad - But why? What for?

As humans, we keep learning all the time. Finding ourselves in unfamiliar contexts and interactions can enrich our life with valuable lessons. No research or study about a foreign country or culture can substitute what one can learn by actually living abroad, meeting locals and engaging in the everyday routines and customs that create this culture.

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The exchange period really had a moving impact on me as a person. I truly created a different picture of mine in terms of confidence, expectations, achievements I could make, and an overall new perspective on what I could do and could not do. This had an amazing impact on me. I gained better social skills, I also acquired better mobility skills as the infrastructure of the city was of course appropriate for blind pedestrians.
EPFIME student testimony

Skills and employability

Studying abroad can have a positive impact on personal and academic development, but also be important when you move from studies to your first job. Many employers value a study-abroad experience. Furthermore, an exchange program will provide you with so-called “soft skills”, or skills that are not related to what you learn in the classroom. Examples of soft skills are ability to take initiatives, being comfortable in working with people from other cultures. Many employers are looking for these skills as well when recruiting, so this can increase your chances to get a job after your studies.

New learning & teaching practices

Another reason you might consider studying or training abroad is for the chance to experience different styles of education. By enrolling in a study abroad program, you’ll have the chance to see a side of your studies  that you may not have been exposed to at home. You will learn in a different culture with different methods and start looking at things from different perspectives. Also, maybe these perspectives will also give you hints of what to pursue in the future academically and professionally.

Seeing the world

By studying or training abroad, you will experience a brand new country with incredible new outlooks, customs and habits. The benefits of studying abroad include the opportunity to explore the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of your host nation, but also other countries that you may choose to visit. You will also experience the benefits of a ‘cultural shock’ and you will find that you have a better understanding and appreciation for the people’s countries and history, as well as developing cultural awareness and intercultural competencies. A study abroad also makes you reflect on your own country, culture and identity, and might give you a different perspective on your own country and how other people see your country.

Developing your language skills

Studying or training abroad grants you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new language or freshen up a language you have already learnt, and there is no better way to do that than to dive right in. In addition to the considerable language practise you will get just in day-to-day life, your host university will likely offer language courses to help you communicate more easily in the language of your host country.

Personal development

There is nothing quite like being on your own in a foreign country. You might find that studying abroad really brings out your independent nature. Students who study abroad become explorers of their new nation and really discover the curiosity and excitement inside them. Being in a new place by yourself will test your ability to adapt and engage in problem-solving situations. Even though it can sometimes be quite uncomfortable and frustrating, you will end up having more self-confidence.

Making lifelong friendships

One of the biggest benefits of studying abroad is the opportunity to meet new lifelong friends from different backgrounds. You will be part of an “international family” and have the possibility to experience excitement (and concerns), and you are likely to create some strong bonds and get in contact with international people from different countries and cultures.

Student organisations

Student organisations can be of great help for your stay abroad. They can help you with integrating into the new community, translate information for you and in many cases also organise activities for students from other countries. Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is a network of student organisations supporting exchange students and international students (not only Erasmus students) when they arrive to their new host country. National student unions represent all students, not only international ones, in the respective countries and Higher Education Institutions. 

Contact your local ESN section or student union to ask how they can support/help you.