You may want the opportunity to experience a completely different culture and way of life or are simply getting bored of good old Blighty, but studying abroad is a big commitment. Lydia Fallon, Cambridge News looks at the pros and cons that may affect your decision
Studying abroad can give you the opportunity to enhance your CV and experience a new culture
• It can be a great addition to your CV and ensure you stand out in a competitive job market. Employers will love the fact that you have adapted yourself to a whole new culture and gained language skills. Living in another country away from your friends and family takes you completely out of your comfort zone and employers will respect that. “Studying abroad gives an international edge to any degree which in turn can enhance a student’s future career prospects and make any CV stand apart from the rest,” says Claire Fiumana, Anglia Ruskin’s Study Abroad Adviser.
• You may have never had the opportunity to travel, and studying abroad will allow you to do so while learning at the same time. You can discover a different culture, see some amazing places, meet some really interesting people and gain an international perspective which will benefit you and your future career plans.
• You can learn loads of different life-skills and return more rounded than your fellow graduates. All these skills are transferable and will give your CV the edge. “Studying abroad will enable students to grow as individuals and become more confident and independent,” says Clare.
• Immersing yourself in a different country and culture will improve your language skills no end. There is no better way to learn a language then actually being in the country, conversing with the locals and speaking it every day. Fluency in another language is an extremely desirable trait for potential employers, with so many companies going global, with Chinese being particularly valued.
• It can be a great way to build an international network of friends and contacts. “The advantages to study abroad are not only educational,” says Claire. “Students will learn about different cultures and make new friends from all over the world.”
• It can be really good fun, a once in a life-time experience and an opportunity that won’t come around very often. Sipping sangria by the beach in Spain, eating your weight in cheese in France and exploring the cultural delights of Italy. Tempted?
• Being away from your family and friends is never going to be easy and you’re bound to be homesick at times, particularly at the beginning. If your boyfriend or girlfriend is back in the UK, relationships are likely to suffer which could have a negative impact on your university work. If you doubt your ability to cope with the pressures, you should think really carefully before making the commitment.
• Tuition fees abroad are often less than the UK but you have to consider the cost of getting to the other country, visa fees and living costs. It can all add up, and it’s advisable you have some kind of financial backing whether it is in the way of savings or the parentals.
• Don’t base your decision to study abroad purely on wanting an extended stay in another country. It is risky! If your main priority is travel then consider taking a gap year or doing it during the summer holidays. You do need a genuine interest in the course and need to have researched it thoroughly before committing.
• A different culture and language can make you feel really alienated so do make the effort to learn some key phrases before jetting off. It is also important you are as social as possible, there will be plenty of people in the same position as you, get to know them and you will find life abroad a lot less lonely and daunting.
If you’re considering a year abroad as part of your degree, Anglia Ruskin University offers an exchange programme for undergraduates.
Some degrees have a compulsory semester or year abroad, such as BA (Hons) International Management. But, many full-time students have the opportunity to study overseas as an optional part of their degree. For example, degree courses such as music, communication studies, history, law, sociology, education and computing also have exchange agreements in place.
Additionally, some masters programmes have a semester abroad as an optional part of the course, such as MA intercultural communication and MA international business.
The university has arrangements with over 40 partner institutions in other European countries, USA, Canada, India and Malaysia to enable full-time students to study abroad as part of their course.