Don't Stop Traveling Because You Graduated: Why Working Abroad Is Better Than Studying Abroad
In college, many students are subject to countless speeches about the importance of studying abroad; it provides an experience (that expires with graduation) that allows for learning about different cultures, making new friends and traveling. You've probably heard it all before.
When I studied abroad in Germany, I quickly found that it wasn't for me because I didn't have to work. Maybe this seems like a strange and silly complaint — why would he work when he went to study, right? Well, employers say that the experiences gleaned from studying is far more important than the studies alone. I know more people who have landed jobs due to their skill sets rather than their GPAs.
Given this truth, it makes far more sense to work abroad for a period of time rather than to study abroad. Plus, while my study abroad experience was fun and great and everything it promised itself to be, it left me broke. Working abroad would be the best of both worlds — it would allow for gaining experience while getting paid.
By just going on a study abroad program, you put yourself in the position in which you don't interact with locals should you not actively choose to do so. While some programs provide great cultural immersion experiences like homestays and culturally mixed courses, plenty of programs house all study-abroad students together and place them in the same courses together.
Without being forced to do otherwise, it can be incredibly tempting to stick with your American friends rather than to immerse yourself with natives. While many students hope that studying abroad will promote personal growth, often, they don't reach their potential because the circumstances of the program make staying in one's comfort zone a viable option.
So, since few students truly take any studies seriously while abroad, let's work abroad instead. It will force you to immerse yourself within the local culture whether you want to do so or not.
It will keep your pockets fuller and will give you a firsthand peek into how the culture works. You will feel more fulfilled and purposeful at the end of each day. While traveling — and the people you meet while traveling — is great, it's easy to become desensitized to its incredibility when you go to a new country every weekend.
Studying abroad will never hurt a person's job application, but working abroad will always look better. If you worked abroad, the value of your experience will speak for itself; you worked in a situation that was unfamiliar and foreign, but you still managed to excel.
The prospect of traveling constantly with a decreased emphasis on schoolwork is obviously enticing and glamorous — until you check out the price tag and resulting debt. Make sure to consider all your options so you can see the world in way that is most valuable for you.
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