Study Abroad schemes offered by many universities across the world have become increasingly popular over the past couple of years. Students see an opportunity to mix with other cultures travel and continue their studies abroad. However there are some critics who say that it's just an excuse for students to go on a jolly in another country and get out of doing actual work.
Over a year ago I found myself in the departure halls of Heathrow Airport about to board a plane for Hong Kong wondering if I had made the right decision to leave familiarity behind for six months. Now I'm back in the UK I can truly say that as many students as possible should take up this opportunity. It's something that I can look back and say it was an incredible experience and a time where I learned so many new things about myself and the world around me.
And so I've compiled a list of a few reasons to go abroad:
Depending on where you go you can actually save money compared to staying at home. Staying in student digs in Asia is usually at least half the price of your typical uni halls back home which means you can spend less and save some money at the end. The same goes for food especially in Asia where full meals in a university canteen can cost as little as £1.
There's no other better way to learn about countries and culture than visiting these places ourselves. By studying at a university you can make new friends from all over the world and gather vital information from the locals about where you are. You can even opt to learn the language or learn about the political history of the country that you are in. When you leave you can take these friends with you and keep in touch.
It can be easier to get internships abroad, especially journalism where English publications are desperate to get native English speakers to intern for them. I worked as a photographer for an English speaking magazine and got to do things that I would never do back home. Similarly many people on my exchange programme who studied business also managed to get good internships with some getting offers of employment when they left. It also looks incredible on a CV when applying to jobs in the future.
You can use your location as a base and take advantage of budget airlines in the area and visit new places. For me, Hong Kong was at the centre of Asia and was a hub of a major budget airline with links to Thailand, Australia and Singapore. While you're in the area it's worth visiting a few places for a cheap weekend away.
Moving away from home for the first time is hard but moving halfway across the world is slightly more difficult. There's no better way to learn more things about what you can achieve and what you want to achieve in life than seeing you do incredible things and meeting amazing people in a completely different country.
And that is why for me, everyone should have the option to study abroad and everyone should seriously doing it. It can be daunting at first but when you're there, there really is no looking back. And when you come to the end of your study abroad programme you can look back and wonder why you were so nervous about going in the first place!