20 reasons to study abroad in 2020

by GOLDEN KEY INNOVATION TEAM

Golden Key International Honour Society, founded on 29 November 1977, is an academic honor society which recognizes and encourages scholastic achievement and excellence among college and university students from all academic disciplines.

Thinking about taking some time out next year to do a semester abroad? Spending some time overseas comes with a whole range of benefits and can help you to gain perspective about your future before you make big decisions about further study or your career. Many Golden Key members have have studied abroad over the years and they all share the same positive view of it, often calling it one of the best experiences of their life. Need more convincing?

Here are 20 great reasons to study abroad:

1. Appreciating the beauty of a new place. Within the halls of local museums, with every taste of your host country’s authentic cuisine, upon every stroll through your favorite park, you’ll find beauty in your study abroad destination to inspire you and open your mind and heart to a new worldview.

2. Expanding your knowledge. Whether you choose to study abroad, intern abroad, or both, CEA’s programs provide students with a valuable, enriching overseas education that will serve them personally and professionally. Check out CEA’s newly launched internship programs in Sydney, Australia, and Milan, Italy — or consider pursuing an academically enriching Business & Economics study abroad program in charming Budapest, Hungary. 

3. Leadership growth. According to Forbes, a recent study revealed the correlation between living abroad and gaining clarity from self-discerning reflections — leading to multi-layered benefits including “career success, appreciation for diverse cultural backgrounds, and expanded perspectives which improves decision-making, stress-management, and job performance.”

4. New home away from home. Of course, any study abroad experience comes with an adjustment period and at least a few stages of culture shock — but your new destination will soon start to feel like a second home. By the time you’re getting ready to return to the U.S., you’ll be planning your next trip back. 

5. Awakening your sense of adventure. Another reason to study or intern abroad in 2020? You’ll enjoy eye-opening and unforgettable adventures, from pre-planned CEA excursions to spontaneous weekend and holiday trips with new friends. Students pursuing an internship in Sydney, Australia, can also opt into Discovery Week, which will take place the week prior to the program. This is an opportunity for students to see and learn more about Australia and Sydney, and may include a city tour, harbor cruise, a rainforest-beachside stint featuring unique Aussie wildlife featuring kangaroos and koalas, sand dune-boarding, a bush walk, a beach tour, and more.

6. Experiencing different learning environments. Experience life outside of your home university bubble and embark on an international education journey through studying and/or interning abroad. Broaden your horizons and your perspective of the world — whether that be in Seville or Galway.

7. Expanding your professional portfolio. Whether students apply for CEA’s Mobile Journalist or Content Contributor programs, or return home with academic projects and accomplishments to showcase in job interviews, there’s a major professional-portfolio value of studying or interning abroad. Here’s one engineering student’s stunning drone footage around Italy created during his time in Rome with CEA.

8. Becoming more well-rounded with a global education. Another benefit of studying or interning abroad? The formative nature of the experience. Not only can you talk about it in job interviews — you’ll be able to reflect on this time throughout your life, lending to worldly conversations with those you meet. (Speaking of worldliness, learn about CEA’s International Relations and Communication program in Bogotá, Colombia.)

9. Passport stamps! Aside from CEA’s arranged excursions outside your host city, you’ll have the opportunity to travel during your free time and racking up those passport stamps! Perhaps for you that means trips from Chile to Patagonia, Rome to Athens, Paris to Lyon, or Amsterdam to Belgium. 

10. Resume builder. Showing future employers that you’ve had an international education positions you as a well-rounded candidate. Whether you honed your foreign-language fluency, pursued an internship abroad, created content for CEA’s channels as a MOJO (Mobile Journalist), or took courses that align with your major, you’ll be able to easily talk about these in an interview setting. 

11. Program choices & flexibility. CEA recently launched several brand-new study abroad destinations — Amsterdam, Bogota, and Budapest — as well as summer internship abroad destinations — Sydney and Milan. To provide the best experience for students, CEA offers a variety of destinations and programs suited for a range of majors, whether you’d like to study Supply Chain Management with Irish Micro-Distilleries or you’re interested in taking your engineering studies to someplace like Buenos Aires or Paris.

12. Stepping outside your comfort zone. Personal growth abroad stems from self-reliance and facing unique, formative challenges in a new place. 2020 is the year to step out of your comfort zone and into a life-changing, academically enriching adventure. Read “How Study Abroad Saved Me,” an inspiring and heartwarming story captured by a London alumna.

13. Cultural awareness and immersion. “If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.” – Anthony Bourdain

2020 is the year for you to become a more global citizen. No matter where you study or what your major is, there are opportunities for you to delve into a new culture and learn about the history, food, people, art, language and more. You might even consider returning to live and work abroad!

14. The food! Once again, Anthony Bourdain said it best: “Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonald’s? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head?”

Some of the most memorable moments for students abroad involve the savory, sweet and unique specialties of one’s host country. CEA programs often offer cooking classes (like this one in Seville, Spain), where students can try their hand at preparing local fares. (Check out this video of CEA Rome students enjoying a pasta-making class!)

15. Forging new friends and networks. It’s true — the friendships you foster while studying abroad often last a lifetime. Whether you go abroad with acquaintances from your school or venture overseas without knowing a soul — you’ll form a bond with these newfound friends, and together you’ll conquer language barriers, travel, eat well and learn. The inherent value of study and internship abroad programs also lies in the professional networks you foster — including the CEA Alumni Ambassador program, receiving professional letters of recommendation, career connections, and so forth. 

(Take a look at the story of this group of friends who studied abroad in 2007 and have met up every single year since then.)

16. Language fluency. CEA’s newly unveiled Intensive Spanish Language summer program in Bogota, Colombia, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to CEA’s offerings designed to improve students’ foreign-language fluency. Arabic, Czech, Irish Gaelic, Portuguese, Catalan, French, Italian, Russian, Chinese, German and Spanish course tracks allow students to fully grasp the language and literature of their study abroad location. 

17. International internships. Whether you’re interested in pursuing a study abroad program, an internship-only program or a combined study and internship abroad program, CEA has options to suit your preferences and course credit needs. Take your education and career path abroad in 2020!

“It has been a goal of mine to see the world, learn from different cultures, and acquire skills not only to help my career, but to grow as a person. I think that anyone who is serious about their career and enjoys taking on new challenges should strongly consider an internship abroad. The experience goes beyond being a tourist. The type of knowledge and exposure you receive interning abroad is unlike anything else; learning what it means to be a team player anywhere in the world, and understanding that language does not need to be a barrier have been invaluable lessons. It was a truly immersive experience.” – Sarah Franco, CEA Florence alumna

Read these CEA students’ success stories of interning in Italy and studying abroad in France, and leveraging their experiences in interviews upon returning home.

18. Personal growth. Studying abroad fosters a sense of self-discovery, independence and confidence. It may sound cliché, but you’re bound to return home from studying abroad with a newfound readiness to tackle challenges and expand your mind after experiencing new cultures and diving into unfamiliar — but ultimately rewarding — situations.

19. Post-college benefits. The benefits of studying or interning abroad extend far beyond the moment you return home, as evidenced by this alumna’s story — “How Studying Abroad Shaped My Future Career.” From grad school entry and higher starting salaries to skill building and adapting to diverse work environments, take a look at some statistics of the perks of going abroad.

20. You’ll regret not doing it. You’ll hear how many people regret not taking the opportunity to study abroad when they could — and the phrase “If not now, when?” is one to keep in mind! Your future self will thank you.

This article first appeared on the blog of amazing Golden Key partner Study Abroad.

Study Abroad Programs give you the opportunity to experience the world as your classroom. Rather than picking things up from books and the Internet, navigating a new landscape may open your eyes to culture, history, a new language or your heritage. Studying Abroad opens the door to personal growth and discovery too. As you learn to say ‘hello’ in a foreign language, make friends, eat exciting new foods, it is bound to boost your confidence, teach you self-reliance and stretch the parameters of your comfort zone.

About Golden Key

Golden Key is the world's largest collegiate honor society. Membership into the Society is by invitation only and applies to the top 15% of college and university sophomores, juniors and seniors, as well as top-performing graduate students in all fields of study, based solely on their academic achievements. As an international honor society with more than 400 chapters at colleges and universities around the world, Golden Key is committed to a high standard of scholastic achievement, and an ethos of integrity, innovation, respect, collaboration and diversity.