I could easily talk for hours about the semester I spent abroad, and seriously come find me if you want to chat, but ultimately there were key skills that I developed during this experience. Some of these skills will assist me as I seek jobs after college, and others will stay with me for a lifetime. In today’s edition of Peer into you Career, I am going to share with you the skills that I had gained from my experience abroad, and hopefully instill in you the motivation and courage to make an abroad adventure of your own.
Personal Growth & Independence
When I had decided to study abroad, my first hope was to have a friend or classmate I knew join me on my study abroad program. I assumed this would make the cultural shock and overall transition much easier when getting to my new home for five months. It ended up being that I did not know anyone that was attending the same program as myself, and this was something that had worried me. Who was I going to connect with, talk about the transition stages with, or even be comfortable sharing my struggles with? Ultimately, what I had quickly learned and realized was that this was an experience that I had done for myself. At the end of the day, I was the one who made the decision to study abroad, and though it was nice to have the support of friends and family, I know that I would be on my own for a while. I soon discovered that this independence can be a scary feeling. All alone, and half-way across the world from your home does not always put the best feeling in your gut. However, this feeling of anxiousness and unexpectedness was also half of the excitement! I had time to focus on myself, reflect on goals, and develop some unique personal skills. Out of all the skills I had developed while abroad, I believe the new found independence I gained was the most valuable and rewarding.
Educational & Career Development
Studying abroad is an amazing resume and cover letter builder, and it also gives you an awesome outlet to talk to employers about the professional skills and experience you gained during your time abroad. Remember that even though class structure may be different than the U.S., it is still very applicable to talk about the team projects and personal assignments you work on in classes. Being able to adjust to this different style and display your success shows that you are adaptable and driven to complete projects to the best of your ability. There are many skills and qualities gained from studying abroad that employers are already seeking out, it is just a matter of how you present that information, and the message you want to convey about it during your interview. This can be a topic that truly sets you apart from the rest of the group, so remember to always highlight your adventures abroad!
Making Lifelong Connections
Now I know this may not sound like much of a skill, but I believe there is some benefit to this. Making connections while spending time abroad is truly what makes the experience a valuable one. Going along with building independence skills, you are also forced to make new connections with individuals from the country you are traveling too, as well as other students that may be studying abroad. Even if you consider yourself to be a bit on the shy side, think about the other students that are studying abroad, just as you are. They are in the same boat, they are going through the same worries, and may have some of the same questions you have. When I landed in England, and I waited for the bus shuttle to my school, I introduced myself to three new students that were also in the same program. To this day, we still talk about the fun times we had, and we are currently working on finding time to meet up, though we are hours apart. For me, relationship building while abroad was important. I knew I would be able to not only meet some of the locals, but also other students that may or may not share some of the same interests as I do. At the end of the day, it is the amazing friendships and connections you make, that make studying abroad a blast!
Hopefully some of this information has persuaded you to at least think about studying abroad at some point during your college career! If you would like to find more information on the benefits of studying abroad, take a look at the International Education Office here on campus, as well as our office, Career & Internship Services in order to learn more! Thank you, and until next time!
Photo by: Zach