I believe the surest way to ensure your academic success in college is through at least one education abroad experience. I am proof of this.
Having the drive and curiosity and ambition required to study abroad are all markers of your own ability for achievement. But perhaps more important than all of this is taking your experiences abroad and applying them to your schoolwork and life. Students that study abroad are better-informed and more courageous students. Raising your hand to participate in class is easy after presenting in another language to a native speaker. Working on a group project is simple after having to navigate a new host family. Managing time is a breeze when you have already learned a train system in a foreign country.
This is just the start. Education abroad introduces students to a new set of beliefs and worldviews that can assist us in critical thinking exercises and improves general knowledge about other cultural perspectives. Students identify more as global citizens and gain insight on the stereotypes they hold and that others have about Americans. As globalization becomes a cross-disciplinary theme among all university programs, students that have studied or travelled abroad are able to apply personal experiences to classroom concepts.
Finally, students with experiences abroad have something to offer. Study abroad experiences are interesting and people genuinely want to hear about them. This is a huge advantage and an easy way to impress professors and peers with your prowess on a certain topic. It will also help when you leave the world of academia because it signals your confidence and academic ability to have studied abroad. An interviewer might care less if you were on a sports team, but no one really says “Oh, you studied abroad in India… I am uninterested!”
Claire Bens is a Peer Advisor at the Office of Education Abroad. Follow her @clairebens or stop by and see her during walk-in advising M-F between 1pm and 4pm.