OPINION: Why You Should Study Abroad as a College Student

Photo by John McArthur on Unsplash

Studying abroad is an incredible opportunity for college students to explore new cultures, gain valuable skills and expand their horizons. In today’s globalized world, studying abroad is becoming increasingly popular among students who seek to gain a competitive edge in the job market and broaden their perspectives.

Bellevue College is home to over 29,000 students, including 900 international students from over 60 countries who attend the college each year. With its commitment to global education, BC offers a range of study abroad and international education opportunities that prepare students for success in an interconnected world. Bellevue College has consistently ranked among the top 20 community colleges nationwide in terms of international student enrollment. The college’s dedication to internationalization was recognized with the prestigious 2004 Senator Paul Simon Award, which celebrates exemplary efforts in promoting global learning on campus.

Here are the numerous benefits of studying abroad that can enhance a student’s personal, academic and professional growth:

Boosting Your Resume
Including your study abroad experience on your resume can be a powerful way to demonstrate to potential employers that you possess a range of valuable skills, such as independence, adaptability, multitasking, critical thinking and initiative.

Getting a Job
Research has consistently shown that studying abroad can have a significant positive impact on a student’s career prospects. For instance, students who have studied abroad are less likely to suffer from long-term unemployment. In fact, according to the Erasmus Student Network, 64% of employers consider international experience an important factor when it comes to recruitment. One key reason for this is that studying abroad helps students develop a range of highly valued transversal skills. These skills include collaboration, flexibility and effective communication, all of which are highly sought after by employers. By gaining experience in different styles of working, studying abroad also helps students become more adaptable and become versatile employees. 

These benefits are further highlighted by the University of California, which found that 97% of students who studied abroad had found a job within 12 months of graduation. In contrast, only 49% of college graduates who did not study abroad were employed within the same timeframe. 

Personal growth 
Studying abroad can be a challenging experience, and it requires students to step outside of their comfort zone. This challenge can lead to personal growth, as students learn to be independent, adapt to new situations and solve problems on their own. Living in a foreign country can also help students to develop resilience and self-confidence, which can be beneficial throughout their lives. 

Emily Johnson, who studied abroad in Italy, shared that “living in a foreign country forced me to be independent and adapt to new situations. I learned a lot about myself and my abilities, and it has given me the confidence to take on new challenges in the future.”

Professional development 
Studying abroad can also enhance a student’s professional development. The experience of living and studying in a foreign country demonstrates to potential employers that a student is willing to take risks and gain new experiences. It can also provide opportunities to network and build relationships with people from around the world, which can be beneficial in a variety of career fields. 

“The experience of living and studying in a foreign country shows potential employers that you have a broad perspective of the world and are not afraid to put yourself out there. Studying abroad allowed me to gain knowledge and experiences that I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else,” said Hannah Miller, who studied abroad in Australia.

Expanded educational opportunities 
Studying abroad provides students with the opportunity to take courses that may not be available in their home country. This can be especially beneficial for students who are pursuing degrees in areas such as international relations, foreign languages or business. Exposure to different teaching styles and academic approaches can also broaden a student’s educational horizons and give them a competitive edge in the job market. 

“Traveling to different parts of Europe was a life-changing experience. I was able to take courses on British literature and history that I would not have been able to take at my home university. This exposure to different teaching styles and academic approaches helped me to become a more well-rounded student,” said Sarah Nielson, who studied abroad in England.

Travel opportunities 
Studying abroad provides students with the opportunity to travel and explore new places. This can be an incredibly enriching experience that allows students to see the world beyond where they grew up. Traveling can also be an opportunity to build relationships with people from around the world and develop a global network of friends and contacts. Bellevue College study abroad programs offer international studies in London, England, Rome, Italy, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and more. Students who study abroad are able to live in these new environments and travel to places they may have always wanted to see while receiving an education. 

Cultural Immersion
Studying abroad allows students to immerse themselves in a new culture and gain a deeper understanding of the world. Living in a foreign country exposes students to different ways of thinking, new customs and new traditions. Students can also learn a new language, which can be incredibly valuable in a global job market. By seeing different cultures, students can expand their understanding of the world and develop a more global perspective. 

While studying abroad can be a big commitment and may require a lot of planning, it is an experience that can change your life in profound and meaningful ways. From learning a new language to exploring new places, studying abroad can open doors that one may never have thought possible. Bellevue College offers a range of programs and resources to support you on this journey. Do your research, talk to advisors and peers who have studied abroad, and take the leap to study abroad.