Whether it is for one semester or for several years, the skills gained from studying abroad will turn you into a master of your field and give you important international and multicultural awareness. A significant upside to studying overseas is that you will access an incredible variety of international Masters programmes of high quality and reputation, in addition to the options you may have in your home country. Good universities stay at the top of their game by discussing the latest industry trends with their students and showing them the necessary tools to excel in their career.
Still, spending some time in a foreign country and immersing yourself in its culture brings a myriad of additional benefits. It may be clichéd to say so but this has never been as prized as it is in today’s fast-paced, dynamic world.
We are all familiar with the importance of learning through foreign experiences. But experts say the value of studying abroad is greater when we are challenged and when our environment feels truly unfamiliar. “Navigating cultural idiosyncrasies can provide new perspectives and tear down preconceived notions of how others live,” career coach David J. Smith told Forbes Magazine. “All travel provides valuable opportunities, though I would argue that foreign travel, particularly in situations where comfort is not assured, provides the best learning.”
When you study abroad, it can be exciting to join in on the exotic traditions of the country. At the same time, however, students are able to see, feel, and understand how locals live and how the local lifestyle differs from, or resembles their own. The good news is that this process takes place not only at university but also during internship placements or volunteer work. Here is what Lydia Carr, a Health Management student at Howard University (US) who was born in Taiwan and grew up in Japan and Jamaica, shares about her internship experience in the UK:
“Through my service learning placement, I had a glimpse into the daily lives of different people: hospital patients, mental health patients, and even my coworkers. […] I was able to better understand the health system of the UK, the different structural hierarchies, and how each organisation plays into the overall health system.”
Ease of communication
One of the most obvious advantages of spending some time abroad is learning the local language or brushing up on your foreign language speaking skills. For most people, there is no better way to get used to all the new words and sounds than to jump right into the conversation on a local level. Much more importantly, international Masters studies and exchange programmes develop the communication skills of students in a broader scope. What is the most convincing way to explain your thoughts in an academic or professional setting? How can you negotiate and take part in important decision-making moments that concern your future? How do you switch between different types of communication depending on the place and the audience?
These questions might seem pointless at first – after all, talking is easy! Of course, good communication is about much more than talking. Interacting with students and professors from all over the world, getting used to local traits, and learning to take care of life outside the classroom will transform your communication skills for the better. If you also throw learning the local language in the mix, you will take your communication training to the next level. Conveying clear ideas and giving others the attention and support they deserve are guaranteed to be appreciated wherever you go.
Working in a group
The ability to work independently and to generally feel comfortable on your own is invaluable. However, next to polishing your multicultural understanding and communication skills, postgraduate studies abroad will do wonders for your patience and collaborative strength during teamwork. Good task delegation and self-responsibility are among the many positive side effects of attending university in a foreign country. Schools know this too.
“Modern language teaching includes lots and lots of group and small group activities. Working on a task in a new language with people who do not share your mother tongue is a truly challenging and rewarding way to improve your teamwork skills. You don’t have to like everyone, but you do have to work together,” explains the blog of study abroad provider ESL. Ultimately, after graduation and once you are headed to the job market, you will have to apply the same teamwork strategies in order to be successful at what you do.
Although students usually gain more than they expect during their study abroad, these three interpersonal qualities will be a strong starting point for your future career and life after university. Now it is your turn to learn how to apply them in context.