Why study abroad should be mandatory

Amy McNeel

We spend all of our youth in the classroom, but what happens after that? What about when we’re graduated and done with school altogether? Well, let me tell you what happens: The world becomes our classroom, and a big, beautiful, complex one at that.

As we enter adulthood, we face real-world problems, and in response we have to come up with real-world solutions. Schools provide students with much-needed knowledge and assistance, but nothing can better prepare a person for adult life than truly seeing the world and all it has to offer.

Most colleges today have an abundance of study abroad programs, but the majority of students don’t take advantage of them. This is a problem because for a society, awareness of different cultures and knowing how to effectively communicate with other societies is becoming increasingly important. Plus, we’re college students. It’s the perfect time to adventure and explore the world that we soon will be thrown into. I believe that each and every person can benefit from study abroad, and I think it is time that study aboard becomes a mandatory part of college life.

Travel provides students with a very different kind of education. Instead of taking notes and listening to lectures, students experience a much more hands-on, real-life type of learning. As I said before, when you grow up, the world becomes your classroom. This is also true while studying broad. When you are traveling, not only do you learn about the history and architecture of the place, but you also learn about the people, the culture and the way of life. This kind of exposure to a new place provides a plethora of learning opportunities and overall can result in immense personal growth, as well as a much better understanding of how the world works. Plus, if you ask me, “travel-learning” is a lot more fun than “lecture-learning.”

Furthermore, study abroad students are submersed in culture and experience diversity on a very personal level. Study aboard is made up of presentations, tours, on-site visits and free time, thereby allowing students to experience the culture of the city from many different angles. When students face diversity, they get a chance to develop new perspectives and see how other cultures are similar and different from their own. At school, you can take classes to learn about the history, culture, food, music and language of a city, but actually being in the city lets students learn about it firsthand and truly experience the culture in a very unique way—you actually get to eat the food you learn about, for example. When students are introduced to this kind of diversity, they can help dispel cultural stereotypes as well as expand their minds by hearing new and different perspectives.

The knowledge and diversity experienced abroad has both short and long-term results; study abroad is incredibly beneficial both inside and outside the classroom. A student who has seen and experienced the world has a lot to offer in class discussions, as well as in the world beyond college. It is a well-known fact that employers look for things that differentiate one applicant from the others, and study aboard can very well be this differentiating factor. When a person has traveled, they have seen the world and experienced diversity firsthand, and from their experiences they have a better understanding of how the world works and how to effectively communicate with other societies. If you are searching for a real-world job, it will look great on your resume to have real-world experience.

Overall, study abroad prepares students for their futures and provides them with personal growth and unforgettable memories. There are so many benefits of travel, and I wish that more students took advantage of the opportunity to study aboard. To better prepare students and to make sure that students get the most out of their college experience, colleges should start making study abroad mandatory. When we graduate, we are no longer in a small classroom listening to a professor. Instead, we are experiencing the real world and all the harsh challenges and glittering beauties it has to offer. So, instead of being thrown into the world, let’s experience it first, and then let’s thrive.