Choosing a foreign location to study is more than learning academic knowledge; it is also about boosting confidence. Leaving your motherland and moving to an altogether new country is both an exhilarating and scary experience. It is understandable to be a little anxious or concerned about spending your entire college years in a completely new destination.
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Studying abroad is a huge decision outside the classroom, and the experience is far more than just taking notes in a different classroom. Just like the first day of school, it can be nerve-wracking to wonder whether you will fit in with the others, be able to make friends and adjust to a new environment.
Fortunately, studying abroad, by definition, goes a long way toward facilitating those processes. The experience will encourage new social and not skills and make you feel far less awkward by the time the semester ends. In short, we can say that studying abroad is an experience to advance your self-confidence. How? Here is the answer.
1. Making Friends: Most of us don’t study abroad with our entire dorm. Likely, you may only know one or two other people in the program, if at all. This can be daunting for the introverts out there, but ultimately a positive thing since it’s hard to be shoved into the same space with a large group of people for an extended period without bonding with at least a few of them. Much of the fun of studying abroad rely on shared experiences – exploring new neighbourhoods, stumbling upon cool bars and restaurants, making the same embarrassing language mistakes, travelling together on weekends, and sometimes going to class. Going through a challenge together is one of the best ways to form strong friendships and emotional bonds.
2. Talking To Strangers: One of the comfortable things about being at college is the way your entire life often seems perfectly contained inside that bubble – friends, classes, social life, and often even work are within the same several-mile radius. Everyone knows the same nicknames for the buildings, the best night for dessert at the dining halls, and you can find out what’s happening over the weekend just by reading the posters hanging around campus or taped to the ground. This bubble is dramatically shattered during study abroad. Whether the student is in a giant city or a small town, they will no longer be residing in an airtight space protected from the lives of others. They’ll have to branch out of this bubble.
3. Becoming Independent: Following up on the previous point, there can often be many hand-holding that happens at universities, especially during freshman year. Though most study abroad programs offer extensive orientation, the hands let go significantly faster than they do at most US-based universities. These universities expect students to take charge of their own learning experiences and be responsible without daily reminders or a bookstore that knows exactly which copies students need before they even walk through the door.
4. Building Confidence: There’s no better way to become confident than surviving five months of constantly feeling like an incompetent idiot. No, seriously – so much of study abroad involves being placed in situations where you have no context, no background and no idea what the appropriate or socially acceptable behaviour is. While this can be terrifying at first, it’s a foolproof way to increase confidence and faith in one’s ability.
5. Learning Different Skills: Studying abroad leads to all sorts of intangible benefits, it’s true, but some of the skills gained are about as practical as it gets. It might be your first time washing laundry by hand, memorizing a confusing train schedule or budgeting savings to make sure they’ll stretch until the end of vacation week. It might be the first time they’ve lived somewhere meals aren’t automatically provided for some students – life without dining hall cards can be scary. Learning to function without the safety net of parents, friends, and the university support system can be a steep learning curve at first. Still, it’s also an important step in establishing independence and becoming a functional human being.