Choosing to study abroad is one of the bravest decisions you can make in your higher education career, no matter whether you are at undergrad or postgrad level. Although such a decision represents a huge challenge, the benefits of rising to this challenge are surely immeasurable.
Over the last decades, schemes such as Erasmus have allowed UK students to have this experience by enrolling them at European universities for a year or term, with the aim of enriching their education by immersing them in life and study abroad. This scheme in particular has been a treasured success, as it guarantees the visiting student all the rights afforded to their native counterparts. Also under this programme, EU students have been allowed to come to the UK to take higher learning opportunities in our country.
However, the UK’s decision to leave the European Union has thrown these opportunities into jeopardy. Students in a post-Brexit Britain could be excluded from these much-celebrated programmes, as Erasmus is based on the ideal of free movement and code of human rights protected by the EU. The UK director of the programme, Ruth Sinclair-Jones, has herself stated that she cannot confirm whether British applicants will still be accepted to Erasmus after 2017.
So, if you are a British student, your time may be running out if you wish to study abroad with the set of rights and range of locations available today. If you still need to be convinced, this blog will explain to you why you should be brave and make this choice – here are 5 reasons to study abroad while you still can.
1 – It will boost your career opportunities in the future
Europe is home to some of the world’s most prestigious universities. Being able to add a top-level continental university to your CV will show employers that you are an internationally-minded student who can thrive in an unfamiliar environment. These are qualities that will set you apart from the competition. In an interview, you could bring up foreign study as an example of your ability to work in unfamiliar situations.
Studying abroad will also allow you to accumulate international contacts, and will make you much more desirable to foreign employers, who will be impressed by your prior willingness to live outside of your country.
2 – It will make you develop as a person
While choosing to live abroad can be seen as risky, the potential rewards are huge. Living in a foreign country will give you lifelong skills of independence and communication, which are entirely transferable, be it in personal or professional situations.
Of course, studying abroad will immerse you in a society and culture different than your own. This will challenge your perspectives, and open your eyes to different ways of life that you would not have seen otherwise. Such experiences, coupled with study, will ensure that you grow into an educated and well-rounded citizen of the world.
3 – What better way to learn a language?
Whether or not you are a languages student, living somewhere that isn’t dominated by Anglophones will afford you an unmissable opportunity to pick up some language skills. While this seems daunting, any effort you put into this endeavour will undoubtedly be worth it.
While a huge number of continental Europeans seem to be incredibly proficient in English, to get the most out of your time abroad you must try to speak to the locals in their own language. While some may be incredibly happy to respond to you in English, others could find your unwillingness to branch out slightly waring (or worse!). Generally, people will really appreciate a foreigner attempting to speak their language, and will be patient and help out. Go for it!
4 – Travel!
Wherever you may decide to study abroad, you will find yourself in proximity to cities and countries that you are not normally close to. For example, if you are studying in Germany, you can travel by train and be in a multitude of different countries on the continent within hours. This represents a fantastic opportunity to use weekends and academic holidays to explore the world.
5 – There’s no such thing as a typical year of study abroad.
No matter which subject you study, there will be huge flexibility when applying for your year/semester abroad. You will be able to choose which foreign institutions who apply to, which course you undertake there, and which specific modules you will pick up. So, no amount of advice or warning should affect you – your time abroad will be totally unique to you!
The vast majority of universities will offer opportunities to study abroad both in and outside of the EU. This gives you huge amounts of information to peruse before making a decision. What is certain is that you can customise your international study experience to suit you.
To sum up…
Regardless of the political reasons that may or may not affect the ability of students to study abroad, choosing to do so will be a life-changing experience. There are so many upsides: it will help your employability, help you grow personally, and give you an invaluable insight to the wider world. Be brave and take the plunge!
For more information about Erasmus, see the Erasmus Programme.