Studying abroad is not merely about attaining a piece of paper called a degree. You can achieve that by staying in your own country. What makes studying abroad a different and exciting ball game, along with access to better quality education in some cases, is the whole experience of living in and adjusting to a new place and culture far away from home. This will change your life in ways more than you can imagine, and before you realize you are a different person altogether. You may not be able to see those changes, but ask some of your close friends and family members who meet you after you have spent time studying abroad, and you will discover what I mean.
Four of the main and most positive ways in which studying abroad will change your life are:
1. You’ll learn how to live on your own
It’s very common for people in Western societies to live alone, but in the part of world I come from it’s rare to see youngsters living independently (no judgments made!). So when a person like me moves to a new country, oblivious to the ways and customs of living on their own, things do not always come easily. From cooking your own meals to cleaning the house, staying on top of studies while finding part-time work and budgeting – you have get to grips with all these aspects, fast! In many ways, learning how to live on your own is fun. It might not always seem this way, but when you do start taking care of everything, your life becomes more organized and disciplined. Of course, that doesn’t mean you’ll completely change your life and attitudes in a 180 degree turn and suddenly transform from hipster to super-organized housekeeper (as my own messy room proves).
2. You learn to respect diversity
While studying abroad, you meet people not only from the host country but also from other countries, who are equally ambitious, motivated and energetic as you. International students have the opportunity to find friends and colleagues from a wide range of ethnic and social backgrounds. And that’s where you not only learn more about new cultures, but you also start to really respect diversity. I am not saying people do not respect diversity in general, but the true value of diversity can only be understood when you and people from other countries and cultures are present in one community. It also develops a strong international network, which will definitely come handy in the later stage of your career.
3. You start thinking big
For many people the decision to study abroad is itself a big one. They may have never looked far beyond their own neighborhood, and always spent life in their comfort zone. Studying abroad means breaking all the shackles, as you will be experiencing challenges never imagined before. But that’s the beauty of it. Once you’ve decided to jump in, you feel compelled to see it through. And in doing so, when you meet and overcome many small and large challenges, your personality develops a strange sort of confidence. This is really important to boost your future chances in the job market, and at the same time this confidence allows you to think big. You are no longer worried about “ifs and buts” when you dream, because you know you are capable of overcoming all the hurdles.
4. You get new perspectives on the world
We’ve all heard a lot of things about every country, culture and religion. But to be honest we have never even come close to experiencing most of them. So why do we develop opinions about them? You never think of such a question, let alone answer it, unless your start seeing the world from a different perspective, and that can only happen when you are exposed to new experiences. Consider this example: a friend from India recently moved to Australia. Someone had told him that he might not adjust to the new culture and people may not like him. Guess what? Three months into life in Australia, he’s already enjoying a good job and regular weekend parties. When you actually experience something first-hand, you get a whole new perspective, and most of the time that’s different from your preconceived notions – as long as you choose to be open-minded.