Europe General

Why study abroad?

  1. Personal benefits of studying abroad
  2. And this is why you should study abroad
  3. Also important is that
  4. Academic benefits of studying abroad
  5. Different approach
  6. Cultural benefits of studying abroad
  7. Costs
  8. And finally…

In 2023,over six million young people have made the leap and decided to study abroad, a number which is growing year by year. So why do so many students decide to study abroad and what benefits does it bring?

Personal benefits of studying abroad

In your late teens, you are probably still living at home and enjoying all the support and comforts this brings with it. Dirty laundry can just get shoved into a laundry basket, the fridge is always full, and food appears, as if by magic, on the table at regular intervals during the day. If you run out of cash, there is always someone to lend you enough to tide you over and you are rarely lonely or at a loss for what to do, since family and friends surround you and include you in their leisure activities, trips and excursions. Scaffolded by your familiar environment, you rarely face challenges alone and, of course, everyone speaks your native language, so communication is simple.

While this may all sound enviable and cozy, studying at home, particularly if you decide to live at home and just commute to university, keeps you cocooned from the realities of adult life and, like a butterfly, you must break out of the pupa, and spread your wings to become who you are meant to be.

And this is why you should study abroad…

Once you opt to study abroad and find yourself unpacking in your student digs or hall of residence, you will have an opportunity to meet people from all over the world, become friends, and learn something about the diverse environments to be found across the globe. Perhaps your Spanish flatmate will teach you how to cook paella, while your British flatmate will introduce you to old Hammer Horror movies and your Australian new friend will persuade you to come with them and try out the joys of surfing.

You will learn to compromise, listen and share, and by joining a small, new community, you will discover fresh perspectives in those late-night conversations over a mug of hot chocolate, the books you borrow and the frequent lively discussions around your kitchen table on a Sunday. We all have cultural blank spots and studying abroad is a great way of filling them, and replacing half-baked stereotypes with real knowledge. This internationalism is highly valued by employers, who state that students who have studied abroad are immediately more attractive to them in interviews, since it demonstrates their flexibility and resilience, as well as a sense of curiosity.

Friendship is the basis of networking and networking leads to successful careers, a little black book of connections and mentors you can consult when you want advice, help or practical input in your job role. The great universities have powerful, vast alumni networks in place, and you will be able to take advantage of the connections you forge when you study abroad and join these organisations on gaining your degree.

Also important is that

Studying abroad will introduce you to the importance of time management, as you balance doing the weekly shop, with the meeting of the Science or Debating Society, the essay you have to hand in by the end of the week and the hockey match you are playing against another university. You will learn the usefulness of lists, of saying No, and of keeping a healthy balance between the academic and the social demands made on you.

Universities will tempt you to join so, so many societies from the artistic to the sporting, and you will discover hidden talents and passions you may not have suspected you had within you. You might find you have an aptitude for acting, rock climbing or a capella, or gain immense satisfaction through community service.  In addition, their huge resources will enable you to try activities you have only read about and visit landscapes you have only seen in books or on the internet. Studying abroad opens the door to a multitude of possibilities.

You will also develop strength and self-confidence while studying abroad. Also, you will need to deal with practical matters, such as getting a phone contract, checking through your rental agreement, enrolling and registering at your university, and finding your way around campus and the town or city you live in. Definitely, you will have the odd moment of loneliness, and overcome it, and you will learn how to look after your own physical and mental health. You will conclude “I can do it” and carry that belief with you into the future.

Academic benefits of studying abroad

The main reason why so many students decide to study abroad is simply the outstanding universities located in the USA, the UK and throughout Europe. From Harvard to Oxbridge, MIT to Aarhus, Glasgow to Rotterdam, the rankings demonstrate the preeminence of prestigious, world-class universities across a range of fields. Great universities attract great academics, offer ground-breaking research opportunities and facilities to match, amazing libraries and cutting edge technology – in short, everything you need to excel in your degree.

The approach to teaching you will find when you study abroad tends to differ from the front-facing lecture style which is popular in traditional education systems. Collaborative, student-centred exploration, small tutorial groups, less hierarchy and more cooperation and an emphasis on the practical application of theoretical knowledge are a far cry from old-fashioned memorising and regurgitation. Lecturers often have an open-door policy, a safeguarding, mentoring role and ask students to call them by their first names -particularly in the Nordic states.

Different approach

The US takes freedom to a different level, and if you decide to study abroad in America, you will have the opportunity to create your own course (Open Curriculum) or to follow the university Core Curriculum for a year, before having to make any decision about what you wish to study. In the same spirit, many courses can be a combination – so you could take music and physics, geography and German or art and marketing. And assessment does not consist of just passing exams, but is an ongoing, interactive process. If you have not been able to find the course you wish to study at home – for example, game design and AI – you will have no problem tracking it down when you decide to study abroad.

Many highly ranked universities offer work placements and the opportunity to study on their satellite campuses, for a term or a year.  Remember, work experience will give you a major boost when it comes to starting your career and taking the first step into the workplace.

Cultural benefits of studying abroad

When you first arrive to study abroad, you will immediately see by the differences between home and university. People dress differently, listen to different music, radio and television programmes, observe their own social norms and traditions and, of course, speak another language. Over time, you will come to understand the attractions of local customs – the siesta and the Super Bowl, the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race and Spain’s many fiestas – and will become part of a new community and embrace new habits.

For example, if you come from a small mountain village, moving to study in New York will provide a deluge of sights to see, shows to watch, the neon glamour of the Big Apple and a chance to live at a new tempo in a diverse city. You will be able to immerse yourself in a world you have never experienced, and will emerge all the richer and better informed, three or four years later.

Studying abroad in English will not only greatly improve your written and spoken skills in the language, but demonstrate to future employers that you are capable of communicating in the global language of business, politics and economics. Of course, you could also invest some time in learning Swedish, Dutch, German or French etc. while you are studying abroad, since you will have the opportunity to talk to native speakers, and practise by watching national television, undubbed films and working through the newspapers. You will automatically pick up the stresses and lilts of a language if you hear it all around you while you study abroad, and many universities also offer free courses for international students.


Do not imagine that studying abroad is a pipe dream and that you lack the financial resources to take the plunge. You can apply for grants and scholarships and, particularly in the USA, these are extremely generous and will often cover all your expenses, including board and tuition. Remember, too, that many European countries charge either minimal or no tuition fees for EU students – Elab can guide you in this area, so get in touch.

And finally…

University is not just an investment in the future or the career path you have chosen – it is an exciting and wonderful period of your life which passes all too quickly. If you study abroad, you will emerge a stronger, wiser and better educated person, with a heap of amazing memories to look back upon, a respected degree and lifelong friends and connections.

Get in touch with us, here at Elab, either by phone or by dropping us an email. We have sent over 10,000 young people to study abroad at the world’s most prestigious universities – and you could now join them and embark upon the adventure of a lifetime.

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