Why Study Abroad?
We live in a global society and students need intercultural skills to be fully prepared to live and work in today’s world. While K-State has an impressive number of international students and faculty, most students don’t spend much time with people from other cultures. So the best way to gain these important intercultural skills is to have an experience in another country. Going abroad during the undergraduate years is a perfect time, since once students begin working they most likely won’t have time to go abroad for an extended period of time.
Studies show that a cultural experience overseas is life-changing. Returned students tell us that they feel more confident and independent, that they are more mature and they have a clearer idea of who they are and what they want to do with their lives. They learn important interpersonal skills, languages, problem-solving skills, and travel skills. Students who learn to understand another culture can see things from different perspectives. They also learn more about their own culture!
Five Reasons to Study Abroad
Learn Who You Are
You may already think you know who you are. But if you've never stepped outside your comfort zone--whether that be Kansas, the United States, the English-speaking world, or any other culture to which you belong--then how can you really know what life is all about? The only way to know what's inside you is to look at yourself from the outside. Reconnect with the heritage of your immigrant ancestors. Taste cuisines that simply are not available in Kansas. Test yourself against the thrilling rigors of exploration. Meet folks who speak, worship, and live in ways that you can't imagine. You'll know a lot more about yourself--and you'll never be the same!
Strengthen Your Major or Minor
When you enrolled at K-State, you knew that you had access to a world of academic and professional options. Maybe you still don't know if your major is right for you, or perhaps you're considering a secondary major or minor. Study abroad will help you feel confident that your chosen program is right for you by exposing you to options that you may have never even considered. Take classes abroad that accelerate your path to graduation--or even position yourself to graduate early. (In fact, American undergraduates who study abroad tend to graduate on time more than students who do not go abroad.*) Learn international perspectives on your chosen major--like German engineering methods or Costa Rican environmental policies--that deepen your understanding beyond the boundaries of K-State.
Build Language Skills in an Immersive Environment
If you've ever taken a class in another language, you know how difficult it is at first to remember even the most basic vocabulary and phrases. Perhaps you think you're not smart enough to master Spanish, confident enough to try Arabic, or brave enough to even consider learning Japanese. The only sure-fire method to work toward fluency in another language is not found in a book, podcast, or DVD--it's found abroad! Immerse yourself in another culture for a period of time, soaking up its food, literature, ideas, sights, and sounds, and you will discover that you're smart, confident, and brave enough to learn any language. Whether you want to pick up a double major or a minor, converse with your international friends in their native language, or set yourself apart on the job market, study abroad can help you say ¡Adios! to your language-learning fears.
Distinguish Yourself the Job Market
If you're a prospective K-State undergraduate or freshman, college graduation may be the least of your worries. If you're a senior, though, you may know all-too-well how close it is! When you study abroad at K-State, you can be confident that you're in a better position when you enter the job market than if you just studied in Kansas. Employers tend to give hiring preference to K-State graduates who have an international experience on their transcripts, as study abroad proves that prospective employees have mature attitudes and open minds. Give yourself every opportunity to enhance your resume in our competitive world--study abroad!
Gain Academic and Professional Experience
If you want to go to graduate or professional school after you leave K-State, you've probably thought about the difficulty of getting into a good program. Admissions boards view prospective students with study abroad experience in a much more favorable light than applicants who've never left the United States. Gain admission to a great medical school by volunteering at a health clinic in Kenya. Pass the LSAT with flying colors after you learn about common law in London. Get inspired to research a senior honors or Master's thesis after exploring China. You don't have to wait to know your future--live it now when you study abroad!
*Lynn Anderson, ed. Internationalizing Undergraduate Education: Integrating Study Abroad into the Curriculum. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2005.