By Winnie Yip
Pause the episode. It is time to invest that Netflix subscription into an international travel money card!
Studying abroad during university is one of the best opportunities for you to travel, learn and get out of your comfort zone! (Besides, Netflix will keep reminding you that they exist anyway and all your shows will still be there for you to binge on later).
Don’t get me wrong, I love House of Cards (the script writers seriously have me hooked!), but studying abroad opens your world up in more ways than you can imagine. Plus, these experiences can be super beneficial when you’re looking for work or being grilled in a job interview and have to draw upon your stories to get you through.
“Sounds so clichéd”, I hear you say. But hear me out. Here are a few magic phrases that’ll be music to the ears of your potential employers:
Increased cultural intelligence picked up through immersing yourself in another culture and learning to deal with culture shock. Your cultural understanding hopefully allows you to be more empathetic with people from differing backgrounds and allows you to listen well, appreciate various viewpoints, and recognise the positives in any given situation.
Increased communication skills developed by finding yourself in different social circles and forming relationships with a wider network. This can help boost your self-confidence in interviews, when writing about yourself in job applications, and communicating effectively within the workplace with your colleagues.
Increased problem solving skills and adaptability gained through facing challenges on exchange. Yes, studying abroad has its ups and downs (just like Claire Underwood’s emotions). Language barriers are difficult. Grocery shopping and cooking for yourself is difficult. Studying in another education system is difficult. Dealing with housemates’ habits are difficult. But you can overcome all of these challenges and end up stronger, wiser, and feeling like you can run the world (*Cue Beyoncé*).
Or more realistically, when you’re faced with a problem at work, you’ll be able to deconstruct and analyse all the elements, creatively think about possible solutions, and end up with a working solution. Developing your capacity to be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances is invaluable to employers.
Increased wisdom achieved through your exposure to new environments and your willingness to learn. I’m not saying you’ll be as wise as Frank Underwood, but you’ll definitely pick up more knowledge than if you were to stay stationary in your comfort zone. And, needless to say, this is very attractive to future employers. Studying abroad gives you the opportunity to open up your field of view.
Who, where or what can you learn from? You’ll learn from the variety of perspectives gained from your educational institution, your friends, your tutors and lecturers, your bosses (if you work), random people you meet on your trips, and your exposure to different media.
Increased network accomplished by meeting people from all over the world. Looking for a job in XYZ country? Why don’t you hit up that friend you made when you were on exchange and see what connections they have? Who knows where they could lead you! Maybe you’ll be preparing for an international workplace soon.
So what are you still doing here? Apply for exchange now!
Just go. Do it. If you need help or want to find out more, check out UTS: Global Exchange!
Featured image courtesy of OverMental.