By: Brina Whittier
Studying abroad may just seem like a long vacation to an outsider, but it’s actually a life-changing experience for many students. Last year, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study and live abroad in Luebeck, Germany for one year. I can honestly say that it changed my whole perspective about the world we live in. I was able to travel to 11 countries around Europe; many of which did not speak any English. From not being able to read a simple menu to acting out charades to communicate with natives, the experience opened my mind about how important it is to connect with different cultures. Studying abroad was a unique educational experience, not only from the different teaching techniques, but also from the interesting people I met along the way.
Globalization is a growing practice around the world. As a first world country, we can no longer conduct business in isolation. Due to the number of growing international companies, study abroad students become more marketable to employers and graduate schools because they understand the importance of interconnected cultures. (EducationDynamics, 2017). Other than language skills, these students gain confidence to work within diverse environments, experience with dealing with the specific cultural norms, and many other soft skills that employers look for. These experiences help the student work within cross cultural teams in a global business setting. Although studying abroad in Europe is marketable, branching out to other countries such as China can further “enhance awareness of growing economic economies” (Berdan, 2014). These understandings from the different cultures will help prepare the students for career readiness.
Being a member of Kappa Sigma Mu – Multicultural Sorority has taught me about how to interact with various cultures. This has helped me immensely while dealing with uncomfortable situations with natives abroad. According to dictionary.com, the definition of multiculturalism is the “preservation of different cultures or cultural identities within a unified society.” This is an important concept to learn for everyone. Just because a culture is different, doesn’t mean it is wrong. Students, who study abroad, get to experience this concept first hand. For example, German people speak English, but their daily norms, ideals, and culture are different than America.
From all the memories and the inside jokes, my study abroad was one I can never forget. It was the best experience of my life. Throughout my travels, I met Jordanians, Germans, French people, Australians, Danish people, Czech people, Italians, and so many other people along my journey. Each set of people held different sets of values. This was an incredible experience to being able to interact with all of these different cultures first hand. Even though you’re being away from your family, it’s worth the sacrifice in order to have this once in a lifetime experience. All in all, I highly recommend anyone to go a study abroad trip. You won’t regret it.
Picture taken from Vienna, Austria
Picture from Zurich, Switzerland
Picture taken from Poprad, Slovakia
Picture Taken from Copenhagen, Denmark
Picture taken from Paris, France
Picture from Brussels, Belgium