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Saturday, July 29, 2006 (read 980 times)
So what's all this fuss about Study Abroad?by Erin
don Quijote prepared this editorial for a US-based Study Abroad site and we thought we'd share it here with all of you, too:
Surely each of us has listened to the tale of a friend's semester or academic year abroad. "It changed my life" is the most common opening line. In a survey of study abroad alumni conducted by The Institute for the International Education of Students (IES) in 2002, most respondents reported that studying abroad influenced their careers and educational choices, marked the beginning of lifelong pursuits, increased cultural awareness and tolerance, and launched lasting friendships.
Yet study abroad doesn't just offer these glorious benefits to college students! Educational travel is increasingly popular among curious travellers of all ages. With programs as short as a week, or as long as a year, study abroad offers students young and old the opportunity to study almost anything - academic subjects, local culture, language, the arts - while immersing themselves in the culture of another country and reaping the benefits.
So what are the benefits of Study Abroad?
See your destination from the inside. When you study in another country, for a week or for a year, you immerse yourself in the language and daily life of your destination. Living like a local, you gain an intimate view of local culture and your hosts' way of looking at the world. You find yourself diving headfirst into local life, feeling much more like a local than a tourist with a guidebook.
Learn with ALL your senses. When you study abroad, particularly if studying language or culture is one of your goals, you learn not only with your mind, in the formal learning activities of your program, but with all five senses, as well. You learn not only from instructors, but also from ordinary citizens: your host family, the waiter at the local bar and the old man who sells you your newspaper every morning.
Learn new ways of seeing the world, and your own country. Study abroad offers a unique opportunity to see your country and your culture from another point of view. Many educational travellers, particularly Americans, list a heightened awareness of global issues as one of the most striking changes they see in themselves after overseas travel.
Improve your language skills by leaps and bounds. Study abroad is particularly effective for language learning. Most language students report learning more in a month's immersion course abroad than they learned in the previous 6 months of night school or university classes back home. Surrounded by native speakers, television programs, street signs and newspapers, unable to order your morning coffee, chat with your host family or buy your groceries without using your new language skills, you'll find yourself learning quickly.
Learn about yourself. You'll likely also find yourself face to face with your own cultural values and biases. Many students report learning as much about themselves as they do about their chosen subject. How do you react when you stretch way outside your cultural comfort zone?
Meet People. Educational travellers list meeting people of all ages, walks of life and parts of the world as one of the greatest rewards of studying abroad. Everyone from college students to gap year travellers, independent vacationers, recuperating workaholics, wandering writers and adventurous retirees take courses overseas. What's more, most adult students arrive alone, making your overseas classroom and the streets of your temporary home fertile ground for meeting new and interesting people.