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08-21 Studying Abroad: Studying abroad for personal growth and career marketability

Posted in Mental Health

Studying Abroad: Studying abroad for personal growth and career marketability

The term “studying abroad” may not fully encompass the entirety of what the journey has to offer. Learning in an environment outside the United States is a comprehensive experience that engages the human brain in a unique set of ways. As the world’s various countries continue to connect with one another due to advancing, globalizing technology, the potential benefits of studying abroad are becoming an asset to enhancing one’s resume in addition to one’s well-being.

Scholars from the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES) conducted a survey of alumni from all IES study abroad programs between 1950 and 1999. Researchers Mary M. Dwyer, Ph.D. and Courtney K. Peters received responses from more than 3,400 participants. They found a number of significant findings, consisting of:

  • 97 percent reported that studying abroad served as “a catalyst for increased maturity”
  • 96 percent stated that it boosted their self-confidence
  • 98 percent said that it heightened the understanding of their own cultural values and biases
  • 90 percent said that the experience caused them to seek out a greater diversity of friends

The survey also identified long-term effects of studying outside of the U.S. on various aspects of a student’s life. Studying abroad is a huge milestone in an individual’s life, especially when he or she is emerging into adulthood and gaining greater responsibilities. In fact, 75 percent of respondents claimed they learned new skills that influenced their career path and 62 percent reported that it began an interest in a specific career direction. Over time, the experience continued to impact the participants’ thoughts, emotions and behaviors.

Current limitations and progress in international studying

Compared to the 1950s and 1960s, when 72 percent of IES participants studied abroad for a full year, only 20 percent of students in the 1990s did the same. Overall, international education is not experienced by many U.S. college students, with only 1 percent of them going abroad, according to a 2014 report from CNN. Common hindrances students report include a lack of funding, time constraints and safety.

In contrast to these lackluster trends, some organizations are aiming for progress. For example, the Institute of International Education launched the Generation Study Abroad program in 2014 in order to increase the number of traveling U.S. students. In addition, the director of the Career Resource Center at the University of Florida, Heather White, personally believes the key to making one’s travel experience noticeable in the job market is how a person exhibits it.

Ashley Blackmon, 24, studied at ESEI International Business School in Barcelona for a year and soon after was hired as a marketing analyst at a large food company. She cites her experience overseas as a primary contributor.

“I learned how to be a better businesswoman, critical thinker and relationship builder in a new culture,” said Blackmon.

International travel has a positive influence on a growing mind’s world-view, professional career and academic path. Students today have many opportunities to broaden their horizon and strengthen their minds, but face a number of new challenges as well. If you or your teen is struggling with achieving personal growth or professional marketability, contact Sovereign Health Rancho San Diego online or call 866-577-3633.

Studying Abroad: Overcoming the anxiety of traveling

Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer

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