Your child is planning to study abroad next semester and you’re terrified. But now is the time to ease up. Studying abroad is a gift that every child should experience. If you’re on the fence about it, here are five reasons why living or studying abroad is in the best interest of you and/or your children.
- Appreciation for a different culture: One of the only ways to truly appreciate the essence of someone else’s culture is by immersing yourself in it. Only by living in Spain did I learn to value the unique characteristics and the nuances of Spanish charm. Another advantage to a total immersion approach, is acquiring a taste and appreciation for different foods. The foods in each country are a result of available natural resources, geography, and influence integration of colonization and trade, among other factors. Interesting, right? A study abroad semester allows your child to immerse themselves fully in a foreign culture.
- Compare and Contrast: Comparing our routine allows us to not only identify what we do differently, but also to understand why. In some countries it is common to take a break in the early afternoon. As a result, folks enjoy late nights with family and friends which leads to sleeping late and starting the day later too! Our daily routines have formed over hundreds of years of adaptation and through this lived experience of study abroad, we discover more about ourselves.
- Benefits of being the outsider. At one point or another, everyone should experience life as an outsider. It can remind us about the value of humility, a survival attribute in a global society. Learning about modesty is essential to building trust in our communities. It’s okay to experience awkward situations occasionally because we can learn about our own reactions and emotions associated to these situations. Also, allowing ourselves to feel like outsiders can certainly makes us stronger and more courageous!
- Exposure: How will you know what different really means until you see something you’ve never seen before? You can only appreciate The Colosseum in Italy by being there. The same goes for the Pyramids in Teotihuacán, outside of Mexico City. Coming into physical contact with these historical treasures during a study abroad semester engenders a whole new level of appreciation impossible to experience any other way.
- History: Learning about history has taught me that not only are there differences in our respective cultures, but also many similarities – a powerful tool for building community. Countries have been colonized, some have been enslaved, some have been empires, but most people around the world have shared human experiences, too. Identifying our connections contributes to building relationships and community globally.
Given the opportunity to travel abroad, your child will learn more than any one class can ever teach them.