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Why would a student choose to study abroad? Why would someone choose to move to another country, and leave his or her whole life behind? There are many reasons for a person to choose to live abroad, or for a student to study abroad. To study abroad is a big opportunity in anyone’s life. Indeed, there is a lot of advantages.
The first is that you will probably learn a new language. I have studied English in school in France for almost ten years. Do I speak English? Of course not! I have been in the U.S. for less than two months, and I have learnt more in two months than in ten years of schooling in France. There is no better way to learn a language than going to the country where they speak the language you want to learn.
Language is really important, and the ability to speak different languages is a real strength and power in the globalized world we are now living in, and above all English is really useful. In fact, almost everyone speaks English, so it could be useful for work. English was one of the most important language I was missing, and it is really impressive to put on your résumé that you are able to speak different languages. But it is also useful to travel around the world, and be able to speak a different language everywhere you are.
Also, language is important if you want to know more about the culture of a particular country. Even if France and the US are occidental countries, the culture is really different, and you cannot know the culture very well if you do not speak the language of the country.
Studying abroad allows you to discover new culture, and to be more open minded. When you study abroad you meet new people from various countries, and part of the world. Trough this numerous new friends you make, you can see their way of thinking, their way of life, their mindset. When you study abroad you are forced to expand your understanding of the world integrating different views but the ones you know from back home. Something also really interesting is to know how are you being considered in the country where you are studying, and why do they see you the way they do, because we all have clichés and stereotypes – French are arrogant, Greeks are lazy… It is interesting to know why. Seeing a new culture allows you to have a better understanding of yours.
Furthermore, studying abroad permits you to learn a new way of learning. Indeed, each country has a different approach to teaching. I went to college in France, and it was really different than here. For example, we are doing a lot of speeches and presentations here and, in almost every class I am taking now, I have to do a presentation. Back in France it was not like that, I have only done a few presentations, and I appreciated that because I am not a good public speaker. In fact, I hate that, but sometimes it is good to get out of your comfort zone, and that is what they teach us here. They also teach us to be creative, something that I lack, which I am appreciative of.
Even more, studying abroad allows you to enrich your network. You make friends, and probably lifelong friends. But the friends you make while studying abroad could be really helpful in your professional life in the near future. Indeed, I am studying business, and nowadays knowing people all over the world can be really helpful. If I want to launch a business in France, and then launch it in the U.S., one of the friends I have met will probably be happy to help me. Getting help for this kind of things is only possible if you know someone well.
But studying abroad does not have only the good sides. There are also few disadvantages. In fact, making the decision to study in a foreign country is really complex. In France it was all easier for me! It was my native country, native language, and I felt like I truly belonged there.
The most important thing, the language. It is an advantage, but it is also a big disadvantage. I remember my first day here, it was horrible. I had the feeling that I did not understand anything –I still have that feeling sometimes. I felt like I was not able to say a single word. I was also scared to say something that nobody could understand or that they would interpret it the wrong way. Those differences are also a problem for studying. It took me a lot of time to do the reading or writing assignments for classes during the first month because I had to translate every single word to understand it properly. I was insecure.
Another big problem is the difference in the cultures. The way people say “Hello” was confusing me at first. The hug thing, that was weird too. Another example is food, dining, and how people eat. Back in France eating is social act. You talk and socialize with people. Here it is just a necessity to literally survive. We definitely have different approaches and understanding of everything.
You have to abandon your whole life. Your family, your friends, your habits, and as I said before, you have to get out of your comfort zone. That can be stressing at some point, honestly. If you get in trouble here, nobody is going to be here to help you to handle the situation. Additionally, you can feel homesick, and have problems with fitting in.
However, even if studying abroad is not the most perfect thing ever, I think it is actually good thing. Indeed, it brings me a lot of independence. When you are by yourself in a new country, you have to handle your problems on your own without someone telling you how to do it. You also have to make your own decisions without being guided by your family and close ones.
For all this reasons I have made the choice to come and study here. It was not a true desire, but it cannot be bad for me. I saw the downsides during my first week here, but before I wrote this essay I did not see the advantages, and I am now understanding a bit more why I am here, and what I will learn from this amazing experience.
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