Friday, September 9th, 2011

Debunking The Myths Around Studying Abroad

Study Abroad

90% of the general public believes that studying abroad is a valuable experience.

Whether you are studying Business, Fashion Design, Medicine, or Hospitality Management, studying abroad for your full degree or doing a study abroad programs for a semester or a year can be of immense benefit and help you gain skills you can’t get at home.

You can learn better cross-cultural communication, gain a competitive advantage when pursuing higher education or career opportunities, and exposure to new global perspectives and ideas, all while earning an international degree.

According to the Canadian Bureau of International Education (CBIE)’s World of Learning: Canadian Post-Secondary Students and the Study Abroad Experience report, 90% of the general public believes that studying abroad is a valuable experience. According to the same survey, 91% of employers were also on board and identified an extensive list of benefits, including a better understanding of cultural differences inside and outside the workplace, more world experience which makes for an easier adaptation to unfamiliar environments and enhanced life skills.

Students graduating in the 21st century need international skills to succeed in today’s global economy and many believe that studying abroad should be an expectation.

Komail Naqvi, currently studying at UBC and a truly international student, says “Studying and living in Pakistan, Canada, China and now doing a study abroad program in Europe has allowed me to pocket different lenses from which to view the world and experience the cultures within it.” Komail is also a professional freelance photographer, hence the analogy.

“Developing business and personal networking relationships with people from all nationalities imaginable are things I would never have achieved had I not travelled and studied abroad. The world has everything to offer, if you only reach out for it”.

What about security? I can’t afford it. What if I decide to stay overseas? Like most people considering studying overseas, you probably have some concerns like these.

As for security, anywhere you are or go you need to exercise the same caution as at home, knowing your surroundings and your comfort zone. And of course do your homework before you choose your destination so it suits your needs and expectations.

Let’s address the cost issue, as there is a misconception that studying abroad is expensive, which doesn’t have to be the case. University fees vary greatly depending on the country and the program, and various academic and athletic scholarships are available, especially in the US and England. In a few countries, Finland for example, programs are in English and Bachelor’s, Doctoral and some Master’s programs are free of charge to international students. You will still need to pay for accommodation and books – but if you decide to study in Canada but not at your local university, you will be paying that in any case.

And what if you decide to stay or go back for a longer period? The world, as big as it is, has been made so much ‘smaller’ in the past decades through far-reaching and fast transportation systems, and through the constantly-changing social media, ubiquitous email accounts, and of course phones that are entire personal media suites! You are really never far from home these days.

Among the reasons cited by students for wanting to study overseas are the greater variety of programs available overseas and the difficulty in getting into their chosen programs in Canada. Some programs in Canada, like Medicine for example, are notoriously difficult to get into (30% acceptance rate for first time applicants) especially in BC and Ontario, and many students are not willing to put their lives on hold to keep trying. This is one of the reasons that almost a third of Canadians studying Medicine are studying outside of Canada – with the Caribbean as the number one choice and Ireland in second place.

The trend towards the ‘internationalization’ of education in Canada continues in an upward spiral. As the next generation realizes the importance of becoming ‘global citizens’, education providers, parents, employers and the community as a whole are behind them. Do your research, check out the options and don’t miss the opportunity to meet directly with universities from many different countries at the Fall and Spring Study and Go Abroad Fairs. Check the website www.studyandgoabroad.com for information on when the fair comes to a city near you.

Katie Idle
Author: Katie Idle
Katie is a business woman and a travel junkie! She has always had a passion for travel and for experiencing new cultures. She has traveled extensively worldwide both for work and for fun.
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