Considering studying abroad? Listen to what current international students have to say about traveling globally

By Siobhan Elizabeth Ball

Elm Staff Writer

With increasing opportunities open to students following the restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, many students might be considering traveling abroad for a semester. According to Washington College’s website, the College’s study abroad program “expands world perspectives as it opens minds to different political, social, cultural, and economic traditions,” and is open to students regardless of their major.

If you are not sure if you should study in another country, take some advice from current international exchange and study abroad students at WC.

Discover new interests  

Immersing yourself in a new country, city, and culture can help you to uncover new interests that you may not have been able to explore before. You might discover that you want to learn how to cook after tasting local delicacies in Spain; during a semester in Australia, you could realize your passion for history after learning about Aboriginal culture; while in Amsterdam, you could develop a love for architecture after seeing the sights.

According to junior Marion Morio, an international exchange student from Universite Grenoble Alpes, France, her experiences abroad helped to shape her career aspirations.

“I tried to get the best from my time here by joining clubs, traveling as much as I could, and developing skills for my future career working as a videographer and photographer for the sports teams on campus,” Morio said.

Make yourself more marketable

Some believe that study abroad boosts your resume and sets you apart in job interviews. According to Indeed, employers and graduate programs look favorably on these unique experiences because they know the value of a global perspective.

You might have greater access to career opportunities because you have received a college education from more than one institution, which demonstrates adaptability, communication skills, and cultural awareness. 

Create a global network 

You have the chance to meet a wide range of people while studying abroad. According to The Council on International Educational Exchange, those you meet while in another country often become great friends, and the relationships that you develop could be lifelong.

Sophomore Will Charvala, who is studying at the American Business School in Paris next semester, is excited for the social aspect of traveling.

“I was inspired by my mom to study abroad because she always talks about her experience studying in Rome. She would tell me what a great time she had meeting new people and experiencing things she would not have had in the United States,” Charvala said.

Broaden your academic skills 

Global academic institutions often have different teaching styles, which help to broaden your skills as you are exposed to new and valuable knowledge.

The United Kingdom versus the US is a prime example of this, with the former leaning toward fewer assignments with a higher percentage per class grade, whereas the latter has more frequent assignments at a lower percentage, according to Business Insider.

Independence and Personal Development 

As you learn more about yourself through your experiences, studying abroad can be a time of great personal development. You might discover that you can do more than you thought you were capable of, gaining confidence as you figure things out on your own. As you adapt to an unfamiliar environment, your independence and worldview will undoubtedly expand.

According to senior Hattie Starkey, an international exchange student from the University of Hull, United Kingdom, studying abroad can bring out new sides of yourself.

“From a personal perspective I think that it definitely brought me out of my shell and encouraged me to interact with different types of people,” Starkey said.

If you are interested in spending a semester or an academic year studying abroad, get in touch with the Global Education Office, which is located in the Foster House on Washington Avenue. Washington College has a variety of partner institutions for students to choose from, and you can start studying abroad as early as the spring of your sophomore year. Next year, the study abroad destinations range from Australia, Turkey, France, Spain, Japan, Brazil, and more.  

Photo caption: This year’s international exchange student cohort was celebrated with a farewell reception on Wednesday, May 3.

Photo courtesy of Siobhan Elizabeth Ball.

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