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Unexpected Benefits to Studying Abroad as a Graduate Student

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Studying abroad can be a life changing experience for students at any level. The benefits can vary depending on which stage of life and study you are at when you decide to go international, but the opportunities are endless regardless. From enhancing your professional global network to experiencing a new culture the benefits are significant. No matter if you did or did not study abroad as an undergraduate student, deciding to do so in grad school is more common than you may think.

Funding

Before you determine the benefits, you must determine how you will fund this endeavor. Grants and scholarships do exist however it is likely that hopeful students will have to contribute in large part via personal finances or student loans. If you are going to college and need help with financing, you can take out a student loan from a private lender in order to pay for your graduate degree. A benefit to utilizing a private lender is that the rules and terms are more flexible than with government financing so allocating this money towards your study abroad goals is likely within your reach.

As a grad student this means you have some life experience behind you, and you can get student loans on your own terms to create opportunities for yourself. This is an opportunity to invest in yourself and enrich your education and career at the same time. In an increasingly globalized world studying abroad can help you gain an edge in your career by providing real time experiences that you would not otherwise have access to by attending grad school locally. 

Professional Development

Grad school programs can be taken in tandem with work, or independent from your career. Either way if you enroll in a study abroad program you are exposed to new ideas and professional settings that will help you develop the skills that contribute to your overall professional development. Simply having the willingness to embark on such an adventure shows employers that you are open-minded and have the resourcefulness to adapt to different environments.

Exposure to a foreign language is another benefit of the study abroad experience. If you select a country with a language different than you own, even if you do not take a formal course you will no doubt walk away with at least a baseline knowledge for a new language. Being able to tell current or future employers that you can converse in a second language makes you an attractive candidate for projects or departments that include foreign clients or coworkers and can give you an edge over coworkers who do not share the same skill set. 

Personal Development

Of course, the main benefit of study abroad is educationally focused but do not discount the benefits you will personally experience as well. Deciding to invest in yourself will always yield a great return on investment because there are no benchmarks for what is a success and what is not. Creating your own benefits and takeaways personally speaking is subjective to self, an almost no fail rate. By immersing yourself in another culture you develop valuable life skills that will lend themselves towards your personal growth. Overcoming the challenges, you will face during this time and realizing that you can thrive independent from your comfort zone will help your self-reliance and self-confidence flourish.

A global mindset is an invaluable asset. Gaining a variety of perspectives can help you look at every experience in an entirely new way. By studying abroad, you not only have in class experiences that are different than you are used to, but you will also have learning opportunities outside the classroom that will broaden your personal horizons. 

Diversified Career Opportunities

Spending time residing in another country can make decisions for your life that you would not have come to otherwise. Allowing yourself to be opened to living in a manner that is different than what you are used to, or have come to expect, may just show you that the way you have been living is not akin to your best life. Prior to deciding to attend graduate school in another country you may not have been able to imagine permanently living and working in one, the fear of the unknown can be powerful. However, after gaining some confidence through experience you may discover that an international career is on your bucket list.

A benefit to studying abroad is that you will have an opportunity to build your professional network. You will develop and enrich invaluable relationships with peers, tutors, and possible employers through your studies and personal connections. The university where you study will likely have a large network of students, professors, and alumni, from local regions that may eventually lead to job prospects in your adopted hometown. Exposure to international business as a grad student allows you to learn about the industry from an educational standpoint before you pull the trigger on fully immersing yourself in joining the international workforce. 

See the World

Take some time away from your studies and take advantage of your physical position on the globe. Odds are that the location in which you are studying lends itself to easily accessible travel opportunities to surrounding countries. This is your chance to invest in yourself and see the world in a manner that you otherwise may not have been able to. Specifically, in European regions, travel by train is not only common it is affordable as well. Being a student implies a tight budget, and if that is the case, you will still be able to experience neighboring regions and countries while also being respectful of your wallet.

Take advantage of the opportunity to learn from your peers in class as well about local spots and experiencing them through their perspective. Learning about a foreign culture from a local is going to teach you lessons and grant you access to things that you simply would not be privy to as a traditional tourist. Keep education and learning as the main goal but allow yourself to broaden the definition of what that means to include as many cultures and experiences outside the classroom as possible. 

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03 March 2021
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