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I have just started my Masters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this week (dec 2010) so studying is on my mind. Moving to a new country and getting immersed in education has really got me feeling positive so I thought therefore, while it’s fresh and real, it would be pertinent to sing the praises of studying abroad so here are a few reasons why it’s such a good choice…

should i study abroad?

 

Learn a new culture: You can read the Lonely Planet until the cows come home but the only true way to understand a new culture is to move to a new country. Without getting too ‘tie-dye tshirt and dreadlocks’ on you guys, this is a seriously enlightening experience. Everyday becomes an adventure, it shakes up the status quo and suddenly every meal time, every shopping trip, even every bus ride is an adventure. You’ll go to festivals you didn’t know existed before you came. You’ll eat delicious food that you can’t even pronounce the name. You’ll sit in the womens carriages of trains and everyone will laugh at you (sorry, a painful personal memory there… twice). You’ll be blown away by the hospitality and welcoming nature of your new country, prepare to open your mind because it will change you in ways you can’t imagine.

 

Study a new language: Spend 4 years struggling to study French at university if you want, go to Paris for a year and you’ll be fluent. It’s no secret that the best way to learn a language is to move to the country so you’re entirely immersed in it, you have no escape so you learn it or you starve (that’s a tad dramatic, but you get the picture). People are so willing to help you out and they’ll be delighted at you for having a crack – with a bit of work and a readiness to learn you’ll be conversing in no time. Before you know you’ll be discussing the fundamental flaws of Keynesian economics in colloquial French/Chinese/Spainish/Swahili over a mocha frappuccino at Starbucks

 

International friends: We all (hopefully) are lucky enough to have a great friendship network around us already and I’m very thankful for mine however, you can never have too many friends. Furthermore, friends from other countries, whether they are locals of your new adopted home or other international students, look at things differently to how we (and our friends) look at things. The friends that you will undoubtedly make in your new university look at life through the lens of their nationality, as do we, and together that’s a great thing to see how other people interact with the world today. Not to mention the host of new drinking games you will learn (probably the hard way).

 

More exciting: Going to university is fun and during my undergraduate degree I had the opportunity to study a year abroad which I stupidly turned down. I didn’t want to leave my friends, didn’t want to be a year older than everyone when I came back, was too scared etc. That’s one of the few major regrets I have in my life – soooo now I’m fortunate enough to have the opportunity to remedy that by studying my Maters overseas. DON’T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE I DID. If the option is there, take it with both hands and don’t look back, you won’t regret it. Sure you might miss a few parties back home, but think what you’re missing if you don’t go… Song Kran water festival in Thailand? Carnivale in Rio? Tomatina in Spain? Wherever you study, there’ll be experiences waiting for you that will outshine another generic pub-golf session in your local uni I promise you that. The ‘opportunity cost’ of not going is massive so take plunge, get wet and have no regrets.

 

International experience on your CV/résumé: We go to university to further ourselves and our career right? Well, there are few things to match international experience when you apply for a (graduate) position. You’ll automatically jump to the front of the queue when people are running through reams of applications, who would you choose – someone who had done nothing but study for the last 3 or 4 years or someone with the confidence, social skills and life experience who studied for a year in Peru, or Russia or Egypt for a year. Easy choice – get out there and get ahead.

 

Increase your self-confidence: I’m 26 years old and this is the 6th time I have moved to another country to work, study or live. From Ireland to England, to the US, to Thailand, to Korea, to Australia and now to Malaysia and you know what? I’m still scared. It’s daunting to move to a new place, little or no friends, strange sights and smells but if there’s one thing I have learned is that change brings positivity, it brings opportunities, it brings new experience and it always moves us forward. Fear is normal but it’s better to be scared and progressive than comfortable and stagnant. Embrace the fear and you’ll reaps the rewards.

 

Cheaper: I was deliberating as to whether to include this or not – but if you’re careful, you can save a lot. If you’re taking a year out from your standard university, you don’t pay any extra fees – it’s simply a transfer. That’s not cheaper of course. What about the cost of living though? Depending on the country you move to, suddenly for the $150 a week rent and food you’re currently paying you could be in a city centre apartment, eating out 3 times a day for half that. Sound appealing?! Also, if you’re considering undertaking your entire programme abroad then you have options depending on your budget. You can study for free (as an EU citizen, sorry everyone else!) in most of Scandanavia. Furthermore, nearly every larger country around the offers programmes in English and their fees are a fraction of what Americans, Europeans and Australians are required to pay at home. Do you homework, get researching and use that wonderful thing that is geoabritrage* to free yourself, and some funds.

 

Travel: Ok, you’re in a new part of the world, the time you’re required to be at University is famously (notoriously?) short, less than 35 weeks I think, so you have all this free time to explore the area you’ve moved to. Whether it’s eastern Europe, central Africa, Asia wherever. Get your backpack on, travel cheap and you can go for the whole holiday (all for the same price as going home). With bargain airlines popping up all over the world, and tips galore on the internet on how to travel cheaply – you’re good to go. You may even be able to refine that new found language of yours while you travel.

the benefits of studyng abroad

Ladies and gents, there you have it. I hope that even if you weren’t considering studying abroad before then you may consider it now. Or if you were considering it, I hope this tips the scales and the application is almost now in the post, and remember transferring colleges may be easier than you think! You’re young, you’re free, you have opportunities that many nationalities and other generations never had – lets make the most of those and truly live. I hope to see you on the road, international graduate qualification in hand and ready to use! Happy studies.

Spend 4 years struggling to study French at university if you want, go to Paris for a year and you’ll be fluent. You may want to enlist the help of a French tutor online at takelessons.com or another site to give yourself a solid french foundation.

* Geoarbitrage: Using the strength and weaknesses of various currencies to your advantage. In practical terms, living in a dreary 1 bed apartment in a generic city in the west while you study – costs approx $100 per week. Move to another country, spent $90 a week and live in the sort of luxury you thought was only achievable through the old notion of ‘wealth’.

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41 thoughts on “The Benefits of Studying Abroad

  1. The biggest reason for me you should consider a study abroad program is the opportunity to see the world . By studying abroad, you will experience a brand-new country with incredible new outlooks, customs and activities. In oreder to pass all your exams, I recommend you essayservicescanner.com to read honest reviews about edusson before to order it for the first time. The benefits of studying abroad include the opportunity to see new terrains, natural wonders, museums and landmarks of your host nation.

  2. Amazing! You’ve mentioned all the important benefits of studying abroad. I went for study tour last year and it has been the best experience of my life so far. It’s one rare opportunity I cant get once I’m married. Want to do it again. Thanks for reaffirming my thoughts.

  3. Hi Jonny,
    I’ve just came across your website and I have now found a new love for reading blogs!! After reading this page, I was hoping to get some advice? I’m in my final year of university in the UK and i have very itchy feet to travel the world. I would love to study a masters abroad next year when i graduate but not sure how to go about it? do you have any tips? I think this would be a good first step to travelling the world. Do you think travelling alone as a young 21 year old girl is dangerous? Its the only thing holding me back.

    Thank you,

    Saffron 🙂

  4. Yes i agree with all the point also there are more benefits of studying abroad but at the same time it is much more costly and some time scary also. Studying abroad makes our life more perfect.

  5. Wow yr so cool… sorry new Fan here!! 🙂

    I’m currently studying at Taylor’s University in SJ, Malaysia…
    Bachelor’s in Architecture, Came across this site by accident! Finding info on my next destination… i’m glad i did.
    As an architecture student, i travel a lot to do research and etc… I told myself that i had to do all the traveling again as soon as I graduate, because all the “site seeing” that i did, was all compressed.
    I have it all planned out, Graduate… Work a few months…Backpack around… then Master’s in Europe… 🙂

    Well i hope to hear more of your interesting travel stories mate!… Cheers!

    1. Thanks Josh! Get on the road asap mate, before it’s too late 😛 Sounds like you have it all planned out though, that’s great. Do you ever venture north of Malaysia to Thailand? Feel free to give me a shout if you make it to Bangkok anytime soon 🙂

      1. Funny you should mention ” Do i ever venture up north Malaysia, to Thailand” We’re gonna have a good laugh at this one mate!. I Lived almost all my life in Malaysia and I have for a brief moment in time lived in Germany, traveled to other countries… But I have never explored the two neighboring countries of Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand… LOL! Its always some other Asian country but not that two! eg. Next month will be South India. I was hoping to hop over to Thailand sometime in September, so if your still there, we can meet up for drinks of something yea 🙂 Cheers mate! keep up the good work!

  6. I am very interested in the idea of pursuing my Master’s abroad. The main thing that I am worried about is the financial aspect (obviously). If I got my full degree abroad, I would probably not be eligible for financial aid. That is a good idea though to look into Masters programs at branch campuses of US universities abroad. Now I have yet another thing for me to research in my desperation to live outside of the US 😀

    1. i understand your worries lydia and financial aid is a big one :S If cash is the real issue then how about actually studying at a foreign uni for a fraction of the price? I certainly plan to do that should I pursue any further tertiary education!

  7. Cultural differences are more than just differences in language, food, appearances, and personal habits. A person’s culture reflects very deep perceptions, beliefs, and values that influence his or her way of life and the way that s/he views the world

  8. Hi Johnny,

    I’m 18 years of age born and raised in Southern California and I’m considering doing my studies in KL or China, any thoughts (difficulty, pros,cons,etc..)?

  9. Got here from Professional Hobo & it’s fantastic to read about another wanderluster! I’m from Singapore, so it’s pretty near KL. I did summer exchanges in the States. But it’s just so sad that it is not the norm for Singaporeans to take (the very least) 1 year out to travel. We just fit travellig in where appropriate!

    You’ve got yourself a fan here!

    Cheers!

  10. Agree with all the points! I spent 6 months studying in Madrid after I got the scholarship from Erasmus. Was the best experience ever! But I was the opposite of u! I chose University in Czech Republic instead of one in my native country Slovakia, just cos I knew I was going to get the scholarship there for sure 🙂
    But u r right about one thing, I lived in 5 countries so far and always before moving to a new one, I am still a bit scared!

  11. Thank you, I have recently been searching for information about this topic for ages and yours is the best I have discovered so far.

  12. Totally agree with you on this one Johnny. Studying abroad is such an enriching experience. We were in Penang Malaysia in 2004, great experience! If you haven’t been, make sure you take a trip to the Perhentians in the northwest, near Thai border. Some of the best beaches on the planet (at least they were 6 years ago!). Cheers and good luck with the studies! (I’m 4 months in my ‘back to school’ mode after 8 years off!)

    1. Hey Cam, penang wow – so you can certainly relate to me over in KL. I love malaysia, such a blend of cultures and the food is awesome. With AirAsia’s hub being in KL i should have a fun year galavanting around Asia.

      We’re both back in the books now then are we mate!? what are we letting ourselves in for!?

  13. Hah, not to mention the chance of meeting the love of your life and settle in as a resident (that’s how I met Jack :p). However, being an international student it was definitely not cheaper for me to come to the US to study… quite the opposite actually.

    Can’t agree more that studying abroad is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the culture. If I ever find myself back in school, I will definitely not going to have do here in the US… for the very exact reasons you mention above.

    1. really, u met him studying abroad!? that’s awesome – maybe i should add in another reason then, citing u guys as the example 😛

      I guess the one major exception to the ‘cheaper’ rule is the US, those guys looooove to charge for education :S

  14. Too bad I am finished with my studies… Too old I guess:p
    But I agree on every single point. And same here – I moved several times but every time I am still scared. Until I get there… and everything looks much easier than I expected!
    Kuala Lumpur sounds like a great choice to me. Congrats:)

    1. KL is a great city, really love it and with it being the airasia hub, i’ll be making most of those promotional fares 🙂

      Too old?!? surely not 😛

  15. I’ve been wanting to study again to get a bachelors degree, and will definitely consider doing it abroad. Seems more beneficial than doing it in your own country in so many ways, not just the major points you listed but lots of other little things too.

  16. Great post! I can relate to a lot of this, I just finished a semester at AUCA in Bishkek and it’s been… an experience, to say the least. I have one week left in the semester, so my wave of positivity has dwindled quite a bit (who knew a post-soviet system could be so dang frustrating?) but I learned a lot (though not necessarily about political research methods).
    I’m not sure if I’ll continue at AUCA, but I’m definitely staying grounded in Bishkek for at least a couple years, and I’m sure there will be plenty of other things to learn and experience while I’m here!

    1. Hey Kirsten, wow.. Bishkek huh – hows that?! What sort of NGO stuff are you doing there?

      Studying abroad is awesome but as I get more and more submerged in my studies the memories of deadlines and stress is flooding back to me :S haha!

  17. I completely agree with you on these points. I’m getting my Masters degree now and I’ve been looking into taking a semester in Paris through a program they offer. I almost got to live in Saudi Arabia. My fiance was offered a job there and I would have been able to live with her if they would allow women to bring men with them. I could have brought her if I was the one offered the job, but whatever.

    1. bureaucracy mate! I had a mountain of paperwork to get mu multi-entry student visa for Malaysia too, it’s worth the effort though. Sorry to hear about your issues mate – sounds very frustrating! Where are u currently studying?

      1. I’m currently studying at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. I found out they actually have two programs. One is a study abroad in Paris and the other is a leadership study program in South Africa. It looks really expensive though.

        1. don’t let that put u off mate, there are endless scholarships available, at least speak to the course directors (or equivalent) and see if they can help. It would be the move of a lifetime 🙂

  18. Is it more expensive to study a Masters (Not undergrad) abroad or is it cheaper? Also, when applying for a Masters would you recommend going to the sister uni to your old one e.g. Loughborough/Singapore as it makes it easier? Just wondering as I think at some point I would love to be brave and move to just ONE place for a long period of time…..and a masters would provide the perfect excuse! Best, G.

    1. hey G,

      Im studying at nottingham uni – malaysia campus and the fees are similar to if i was studying in the UK (a general theme for fees in foreign unis abroad). My lectures are condensed so I can live in Thailand and commute to Kuala Lumpur for 10 days every 3 months which is great because the cost of living is so cheap (cheap in KL too, but even cheaper in Thailand). Going to the sister uni isn’t much different actually so aside from psychological safety net it’s the same procedure regardless.

      As i mentioned, there are local universities across asia which offer their own Masters programmes which are a fraction of the price of UK masters – so that’s certainly an option too.

      Any more questions Gisele just pop them on here or send me an email and i’ll do my best to help out. I did A LOT of research about studying abroad before i finally committed to Kuala Lumpur.

      johnny

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