Why You Should Study Abroad in College
By, Jessica Lawlor
I recently returned home from a six week summer study abroad program in Rome, Italy where I took an art history class and a sketching class. During my time in Europe, I had the opportunity to travel to the Amalfi Coast, Florence, Venice, Paris, Barcelona, Athens and Santorini.Many students claim they can’t study abroad for a number of reasons; it will prevent them from graduating on time, costs too much money, doesn’t have anything to do with their major…the list goes on.
No matter how true these obstacles may be, STUDY ABROAD ANYWAY!
The benefits of studying abroad to a student’s resume and future career far outweigh any potential obstacles.
1. Gain a new view and appreciation of the world. Studying in Italy opened my mind to a completely new world. Learning about the culture of another country and how that country operates is key to gaining a global understanding of how the world works. If you only live and work in America, that’s all you will ever know.
Becoming a worldly person also gives you another thing to talk about while networking back in the states. While it’s great to be an expert in your major or area of interest, it’s also important to be able to connect with an interviewer or potential connection on a different level.
2. Step out of your comfort zone. As I mentioned before, I took an art history and sketching class while abroad. As a PR major, I never imagined that I would set foot in a sketching class, but it was interesting to take a class outside of my comfort zone.
Sketching was without a doubt one of the most difficult classes I have taken in my college career. As someone who is generally used to excelling in school, taking a class in an area I know nothing about was definitely scary, but worthwhile. I worked harder in sketching than I have in any other class. I knew that in order to get the grade I wanted, I would need to prove to my professor that I was really making an effort.
Now that I’ve taken this class, I have a new appreciation for art and artists. While I will probably never sketch again, it was an experience that shapes me as a person and makes me more knowledgeable on a subject I previously knew nothing about.
3. Make international connections. Think you might ever want to do business abroad? Make connections while your there! Since I was only in Rome for a short time (and traveling on the weekends) I didn’t get to do as much networking as I’d like, but there are definitely ways to network while abroad.
Check into your school’s programs; most universities provide internship opportunities for students abroad.
Utilize your professors abroad! Keep in touch with them when you return home, because you never know when you’ll be back. Most professors are very well-versed in their field and know other professionals who may be able to help you.
4. Learn another language. I studied Italian for two semesters before I went abroad and plan to continue studying the language until I graduate. While I was abroad, I had the opportunity to practice my Italian with locals.
If you ever plan on doing international business, knowing a second (and maybe a third and a fourth…) language is a must. Knowing a second language is just another skill to add to your resume!
5. Be a well-rounded person. It’s been said over and over again, but generally, employers are looking for the entire package when hiring a person for a job. They want someone with the skills necessary to successfully complete the job, someone who is a good communicator and someone who understands how their field works. While all these things are important, I think employers are also looking for someone they can connect with, and more importantly, someone who others can connect with.
The experience of studying abroad adds another experience to my life check-list that I believe makes me a well-rounded person.
Students: Have you studied abroad? If not, do you plan on it?
Employers: Does a student studying abroad give them an edge when you are hiring a new employee?
Jessica Lawlor is a senior public relations student at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is currently serving as the president of Temple University’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter. Last year, she served as the secretary of PRSSA and headed PRSSA’s newsletter committee.
During her sophomore year, Jessica co-founded PRowl Public Relations, Temple University’s first and only student-run PR firm. She served on PRowl’s Board of Directors as the Director of Public Relations. In this position, Jessica created and maintained a blog, utilized social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook and promoted the firm to the Temple University community, as well as the Philadelphia community.
When Jessica graduates from Temple in the spring of 2010, she would like to work in health care PR or the travel and tourism sector of PR. In her free time, she enjoys writing and would like to one day publish a novel.
During the summer of 2009, Jessica studied abroad in Rome, Italy.