In our current context, the last thing students might be thinking about is the possibility of studying abroad in college. But after semesters of halted study abroad programs, now is the time to start thinking about it again. From the get-go, students interested in studying abroad should state so in their applications right away, and let the logistics follow suit.
For colleges that offer their own study abroad programs and those that partner with independent study abroad programs, students are given the chance to spend a semester in another country taking classes and immersing themselves in the local culture and language. It might just be what they need right about now to help rebound the morale after the world came to a stop. It’s important for students to gain new perspectives through these experiences, which are becoming newly accessible.
Of course, study abroad programs, just like all college programs, have had to adapt to the sanitary context, but remain strong resources to reinforce learning and to encourage independence. Study abroad experiences can also help boost resumes and provide relevant experience to many professional fields, not just in international relations.
While studying abroad is not the right choice for all students, it can be a good way for students to recalibrate after these past two stressful years. Living in another country teaches us to be tolerant, open and accepting. It teaches us that what we’ve always known is not the only truth. It teaches us that we can make connections with people that seem so different from us. Studying abroad is a way for students to take a step back and find that escape. To be lost, but to rely on themselves to find their way.
The idea of studying abroad when the future is so difficult to determine is scary. But students applying to colleges should keep in mind that the world is still open to them, and they should communicate their intentions to travel early on in the application process. This shows colleges that the student is not just a classroom learner, but someone who is open to challenges in a foreign environment. Resilience is perhaps the most sought-after characteristic in these difficult times, and finding the desire and drive to study abroad can help motivate students even further.
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Neal Schwartz, Owner
College Planning of Westchester
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