The Benefits of Studying Abroad
Studying abroad over the years became a popular program for college students. Where they attend a school in a different state for a limited amount of time. Most students study abroad to get insight on cultural differences, improve their international language and develop skills. Though others find that studying abroad is not worth the time and effort because of financial problems, the language barrier, and fear of being far away from family and friends. The wisdom gain through the study abroad experiences overshadow the student’s concerns about leaving home.
Studying abroad helps students develop skills. It’s important for college students to develop skills that will be useful in the workplace and to handle themselves appropriately when their jobs require them to go out of state. These skills can be developed by joining a club or taking classes that focus on developing those skills or even studying abroad. Julia Kronholz and Debra Osborn argue that studying abroad effects a student’s vocational identity and career decision-making skills. Having students from a public research university take anonymous surveys throughout their 16 weeks studying abroad.
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Kronholz and Osborn believe that, “study abroad experience significantly impacts college students’ self-knowledge such as interests, values, and skills, and the capacity to relate self-knowledge to career options” (Kronholz and Osborn 77). That studying abroad helps students identify and develop those decision-making skills to expand their career options, and allow growth and positive outlook on job opportunities that can help some students to develop a strong, stable vocational identity. Kronholz and Osborn quoted Mr. Chapman, who did an investigation on the psychosocial benefits of studying abroad saying:
90% of respondents reported feeling as though their study abroad experience prepared them for the “real world.” This preparation included the belief that study abroad helped participants in the following ways: to gain interpersonal skills required for the workforce…and to have real world experience that serve as performance examples during job interviews. (qtd. in Kronholz and Osborn 71)
To make their results as accurate as possible they used the CIP theory that has been proven effective to apply to career development, explaining that the “CIP has been found an effective theoretical tool in exploring vocational factors for many diverse population” (Kronholz and Osborn 74). The CIP theory backs up evidence that developing one’s skills positively impacts a study abroad student’s decision-making skills and vocational identity.
Going international teaches students independence and self-reliance. There are significant amount of studies that shows evidence of studying abroad helping students increase their independence and becoming self-reliant. Russ Walsh, from the department of psychology at Duquesne University and Monica Walsh, both did a study on students’ perspectives on study abroad experiences by interviewing 8 students, who went to Rome attending Duquesne University.
Was able to find that the students “Following their return from a semester in Rome, all of the participants reported gaining a strong sense of independence and self-confidence as a result of their study abroad experiences” (Walsh and Walsh 143), said Walsh and Walsh, by experiencing and negotiating cultural differences and learning specific travel and organization skills. Though Walsh and Walsh explain that the students went to a school that focuses highly on independence and self-confidence, which could affect the accuracy of the study. They were still able to explain and show evidence using graphs from their research, “that study abroad may have a major role in fostering the development of confident and socially competent adults” (Walsh and Walsh 143).
Also, the study done by Kronholz and Osborn on the effects of study abroad has on vocational identity and career decision-making skills to students’ shows, “that the study abroad experience provides an occasion for vicarious learning, leading to higher levels of self-efficacy, in turn positively impacting career decision-making” (Kronholz and Osborn 80). The students had to learn to adapt and do things on their own in a new environment, forcing them in a situation to gain self-confidence and independence.
Learning cultural differences from studying abroad can be applied in a workforce. Ross Walsh and Monica Walsh noticed a theme, which was the growing friendships and group cohesion experiences with the international students. Through interviewing the 8 students, they came to an understanding that:
The experience of living in close proximity to, traveling with, and relying on students different from themselves…suggests that some of the benefits of the study abroad experienceeven those about openness and cultural differenceresult from the interactions among students within the campus walls. (Walsh and Walsh 144)
Concluding that the short time the students had interacting with international students help them to learn how to communicate and appreciate other cultural differences and similarities. For example, one of Walsh and Walsh participants named Mary reported that through her experiences and the friendships she made studying abroad help her require a great deal of knowledge towards cultural differences.
The interactions with international students and the direct exposure to a new state contributes in helping the students adapt more easily, and to apply the knowledge they learned. Also, according to Kronholz and Osborn, “the study abroad experience promotes gains in students’ self-knowledge, understanding their fit in the world of work, and contributes to a developing a more positive outlook regarding career opportunities” (Kronholz and Osborn 78). That for most students studying abroad, the environment and the different cultural experience gives students a better understanding of what they want to do, what their career goals are and be more confident in making life decisions or career choices.
Kronholz and Osborn and Walsh and Walsh show that students greatly benefit from studying abroad by becoming independent and self-reliant, developing communication and traveling skills, and help make career decisions. The wisdom gain through the study abroad experiences overshadow the students concerns about leaving home.