The Case for Studying Abroad

LHS students visit France over Spring Break 2024.

Over spring break 2024, I traveled to France with my school. Being without my parents in a foreign atmosphere, I learned to be independent, adapt to changes, and appreciate the unfamiliar. Offering students the opportunity to study abroad is crucial for their holistic development. Through immersion in a different culture, students gain valuable firsthand experiences that foster cultural sensitivity and understanding. Academic enrichment is also a significant benefit, as students can access unique courses and perspectives not available at their home institutions. 

Studying abroad cultivates personal growth by challenging students to navigate unfamiliar environments independently, fostering resilience and self-confidence. This idea of leaving one’s home to continue their academic career has been around for centuries; However, there have been numerous obstacles that have disrupted this pattern.  The Covid-19 pandemic has proven to be a major disruption preventing students from expanding their education to other countries and experiencing what previous generations of students were able to. Due to widespread cancellations in the years 2020-2021, over 79% of colleges and universities expected a substantial decline in study abroad numbers for the academic year. Additional studies have recorded 84% of students from mainland China showed no interest to study abroad after the pandemic (NIH). 

Millions of colleges and universities across the world offer their students opportunities to acquire foreign education. Studying abroad allows one to obtain a global perspective, encouraging critical thinking about global issues and enhancing communication skills across cultures. Initially launched in 2014, Generation Study Abroad is a global movement that works towards mobilizing resources with the goal of increasing the number of U.S. students studying abroad. According to their research and data, “Employers increasingly see international internships as a key recruitment pipeline and way to identify globally aware and competent employees. In 2018/19, approximately 25,000 U.S. students worked abroad or completed an international internship for credit”(IIE).   International internships indeed offer valuable experiences for students, providing them with exposure to diverse cultures, languages, and work environments. Employers recognize the importance of these experiences in shaping globally competent professionals. These internships not only benefit students in terms of personal and professional growth but also serve as a strategic recruitment pipeline for employers seeking talent with international perspectives and competencies.

When asking students at Leonia High School about their opinions on the studying abroad process, the vast majority were in favor of this idea. Sophie Dahiya, a junior, stated, “I think that studying abroad is essential to one’s personal and professional development.” Lucas Rosario, another junior, agreed, “I would love to study abroad and experience the different cultures and lifestyles that another country can provide.” When it comes to the cultural benefits and experience gained from studying abroad, the sky’s the limit. In fact, according to the Villanova University Office of Education Abroad, “If you take the time to include overseas study as part of your education, you may also reap the benefits of cross-cultural living within the boundaries of the U.S. Studying abroad may also help you succeed in our exceedingly multicultural American society”(Villanova). By adapting to various social and cultural constructs, one may find themselves to be more versatile and well-rounded.

Studying abroad offers invaluable opportunities for personal growth, academic enrichment, and global perspective. As highlighted through personal experiences and global initiatives like Generation Study Abroad from the Institute of International Education, the benefits of immersing oneself in a different culture are profound. Despite challenges such as the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the importance of international education remains evident. By fostering cultural sensitivity, independence, and critical thinking skills, studying abroad equips students with the tools necessary to navigate an increasingly interconnected world. Moreover, international internships provide practical experiences that not only enhance resumes but also cultivate cross-cultural communication and adaptability. 

Works Cited

“Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on international higher education and student mobility: Student perspectives from mainland China and Hong Kong.” NCBI, Accessed 26 April 2024.

“Why Study Abroad?” Villanova University, Accessed 26 April 2024.

“Why Study Abroad.” IIE, Accessed 26 April 2024.