It’s All Study Abroad!
Language Schools Abroad, Foreign Universities, Traditional Study Abroad – It’s All Study Abroad! Each One Provides The Benefits of Study Abroad.
Most of us in the U.S. have a very defined idea of what it is to study abroad. If we applied the American definition or concept of study abroad to the rest of the world — we would have to conclude that almost nobody in the world except for U.S. students actually study abroad! That’s how different study abroad can be outside of U.S. borders.
Study abroad is in reality just what the phrase suggests. It suggests (1) being in a foreign country and (2) studying – gaining knowledge through learning.
DIFFERENT ALTERNATIVES – SAME BENEFITS
Regardless of whether you (1) enroll directly at a language school abroad (2) enroll directly into a foreign-university program for international students (often immersion language programs), (3) enroll directly into a foreign university as a Guest Student or Visiting Student), or (4) study at a foreign language school or foreign university through a program arranged by a U.S. university or study abroad company, you will find several common characteristics shared by each form of study abroad:
1. you are abroad in a foreign country
2. you are acquiring knowledge through learning – studying while you are abroad
3. you are gaining knowledge and an understanding of your host culture
4. you are developing cultural sensitivity, awareness, and understanding
5. you are gaining valuable foreign language experience
The life-long benefits of a learning experience abroad are available to you in each case.
In our own experiences abroad, we sometimes marveled at how many international students from all over the world could be found in the same place at the same time – in Florence, in Berlin, in Madrid, wherever. Everywhere we have studied abroad, we have come across a wide array of international students – and a lot of them!
We also took note of how few U.S. students studied the way other international students do, how many U.S. students (not all) integrated somewhat less in their host culture than other international students (because they tend to stick with the other U.S. students in their study abroad group), and how so many U.S. students that studied abroad did so for much shorter time periods than the foreign students we observed.
Interestingly, while so many of the alternatives to traditional study abroad programs are extremely affordable – darn cheap, in many cases – U.S. students are conspicuously absent from them.
FOREIGN STUDENTS GOT THE GOODIES – AND AT MUCH CHEAPER COST
Another thing we observed is how foreign international students truly immersed themselves in the host culture of the country in which they were studying – they developed high levels of language fluency, an in-depth understanding of the host culture, its traditions, and its idiosyncrasies – and they took all those goodies home with them: language fluency and cultural awareness in-hand, they headed home better prepared than ever for their future.
Also of note was that their overall financial expenditures were significantly less than those of U.S. students.
RECOGNIZE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF NON-TRADTIONAL STUDY ABROAD OPTIONS
Seeing how well foreign international students did while abroad caused us to recognize the effectiveness and the value of how they studied abroad – independently, highly integrated with local and international students, longer stays abroad than U.S. students and, due to the affordability factor, multiple study abroad experiences in many cases.
The benefits to foreign international students of study abroad (the way they did it) was awesome.
While most foreign international students traveled abroad independently, enrolled in language schools and universities independently, and relied more heavily on their own resources (rather than rely on the structure of a pre-organized program), they did remarkably well, we thought. In fact, they did absolutely great!
Regardless of how they studied abroad – at language schools, at universities, at both language schools and universities – they achieved the benefits of study abroad in each case.
And this was an important point to note about the foreign international students we have met during our own study abroad experiences. Foreign international students focused on the career and professional benefits of study abroad more than any other factor.
While credits were important for some students (notably European students participating in the European Union’s ERASMUS program), most foreign international students focused on acquiring skills that would appeal to future employers, rather than focus solely on credits (which, in contrast, is a major driver of how U.S. students study abroad).
The only exception to this rule were those foreign international students who enrolled directly into a degree-seeking program and at a university from which they intended to obtain their degree.