Studying Abroad Experience Essay Topics

This essay is the winner of our Essay Writing Contest 2014

Knowledge is the creator of an unquenchable thirst; the more you drink the thirstier you feel. It is potent enough to bring about social and financial transformations, advancements in almost every sphere of life. Trapped in this cobweb of interminably escalating thirst, studying abroad is an aspiration for many to go ahead and pursue the kind of career they crave for. Studying abroad widens students' knowledge and horizons, provides them space for a burgeoning avidity towards pursuing their passions and meanwhile cultivates their independence and personalities. However, glancing at the pragmatic side of the desire, some do hesitate to leave their nations and lead a nostalgic, solitary life and for some, tight pockets don’t reinforce the fulfillment of their aspirations.

Studying abroad provides an international exposure which is quite imperative for one’s career building process. In the present era, students wish to stand shoulder to shoulder with the globalized world and current technologies. They want to get adapted to the latest trends of the world, meet people of multifarious backgrounds, dialects and cultures, and interact with them on a day to day basis. A tremendous change in terms of personality and knowledge can be felt after completion of studies.

It is one of the best ways to learn a novel language. In order to be proficient, eloquent and fluent at a particular language or parlance, one should be surrounded by that language on a daily basis; visualize and hear it in proper cultural context. Language can be picked up smoothly by digging a little deep into the cultural aspects of a nation. Also it would be easier to develop a similar accent by imitating what one hears.

Travel aficionados do find it to be a good opportunity. Students get a chance to venture out and explore their surroundings on weekends and academic breaks. Studies with little recreation, whenever possible, always keep the minds fresh. There are abroad programs which have field trips planned in or around the curriculum. Also, traveling or outing is an opportunity decent enough to mingle with new friends who have disparate backgrounds.

It makes one cognizant of another culture first-hand. Culture is not just about languages, food, appearances, and personal habits. It can portray deep perceptions, beliefs, and values that influences one’s way of life and the way one views the world. It is a good opportunity to allow one not only to restrict a single set of ideologies, but also to figure out a totally different style of ideologies. Students who are capable of experiencing cultural differences personally can come to truly understand where other cultures are coming from. It can aid one imbibe the ability to think about a particular subject from different angles and prospects of the world.
Studying abroad aids one to learn about oneself. Students who study abroad return home with novel ideas and perspectives about themselves and their own culture. It provides an opportunity for them to extract out the good from another culture and endeavor to fit the same in their culture. The experience abroad often challenges them to reconsider their own beliefs and values. The experience may perhaps strengthen those values or it may cause students to alter or abandon them and embrace new concepts and perceptions. The encounter with other cultures enables students to see their own culture through new eyes..

Employment opportunities are better after studying abroad. A student from an underdeveloped nation or a developing country ultimately looks forward to coin money. And the best way to do this is to study abroad in order to find a decent job. In the present era when the world continues to become more and more globalized, American countries are increasingly investing dollars abroad and companies from countries around the world continue to invest in the international market. Through an employer's eyes, a student who has studied abroad is self-motivated, independent, willing to embrace challenges, and able to cope with diverse problems and situations. A lot of students get allured to studying abroad because they want to bag the best available jobs in their domain of expertise.

Studying abroad has always been imperative for researchers. Students who want to discern and peruse their areas of interests consider abroad education as a golden opportunity. Where can one find stupendous university infrastructures and quality faculties for research activities? Mostly in the top ranked universities of the world. There are quite a number of subjects whose actual research work does take place only in a limited number of universities and countries. Not all universities excel in all kinds of research activities. So, abroad education helps a lot of students achieve their goals of life.

Finances may become the principal issue. Living abroad is expensive as well as the education. It is often onerous for students and their parents to afford abroad education. Scholarships are not easy as abc. They are restricted in numbers. Some sort of expertise and outstanding academic skills are required for scholarships. And not all students can get them. Education loans can appear to be a good option, but the amount of paper work and other formalities involved, high interest rates, no guarantee of paying back the accumulated amount on time from students’ side, brings in a kind of hesitation and insecurity among parents and students when it comes to education loans.

A totally new ambiance and environment is a real challenge for foreign students. Even if a student knows a lot about a country where he is going to live, there is a probability that he will be treated with some differences. Eating habits, though sound extremely trivial, can be a root cause of discomfort. One can feel homesick, be lost or alienated. Furthermore, studying in a different language can be a daunting obstacle that many students will not be able to overcome. Also, making good friends does take time and it can be more difficult in a country that you are not very used to.

Studying overseas can be a phenomenal opportunity for an international exposure, learning a novel language and culture, travel aficionados, employment opportunities, scrupulous knowledge on areas of interests and research activities. However, financial issues, adapting to a novel culture and nostalgia can bring in some vacillations about taking the decision to study abroad. But, when knowledge and studies are broad, why not study abroad.

By Rajat Tandon

How to Write a Unique Study Abroad Essay

Sometimes, the process of studying abroad can feel almost as difficult as applying for college. You have to choose the country you want to study in, compare and contrast programs (hint: MyGoAbroad), collect your transcripts and references and, inevitably, you will have to write a personal statement and study abroad essay for your application. 

When applying for a study abroad program – especially a competitive one – your personal statement and/or study abroad essay can make or break your application. After all, your program wants to know who it is exactly that will be representing their program in another country! They want to know exactly why you’ve decided to make the life-changing decision to spend a summer, semester, or even a year abroad.

Sound intimidating? Don’t you fret. We’re here to give you 10 study abroad essay tips so you can WOW your study abroad program with your application.

1. Brainstorm 

Most study abroad applications will ask you something along the lines of, “Tell us about yourself,” and “Why do you want to study abroad?” Simple questions, right? Actually, these can be pretty tough, when you consider how many ideas you need to narrow down to fit into a 500 word response. Remember that writing is a process. And, the best first step to streamline your study abroad essay-writing process is to just scribble some ideas down and do some good ol’ fashioned brainstorming.  

Write down the things you’re excited to see, do, eat while abroad. Think about what intimidates you or what will be challenging in a new country. Doodle some of your goals for your summer/semester/year abroad, and really think about what it is that has made studying abroad so important to you. Is it the idea of finally exploring that country you’ve been reading about since you were seven? Is it because this will be your first time living independently and far away from home? Are you just over the moon to be learning about your favorite subject in a place that is relevant to your studies? Whatever it is, write it, draw it, sing it— but get those ideas out there, so you can plan out the best essay you can possibly write. 

[Browse study abroad programs here]

2. Outlines, Outlines, Outlines

Yeah, yeah, we know: since day one, your teachers and professors have pushed the idea of an essay outline. You’ve done about a billion of them, but breaking down your study abroad essay and knowing exactly where you’re going to go in your writing can help you have a more concise argument as to why your chosen study abroad program should choose you. We repeat: writing. Is. A. Process. 

3. First Impressions Matter

You always want to have that eye-grabbing introduction: who are you as a student, a person, and a traveler? In just one to two sentences, try to summarize and explain exactly who you are and why you want to study abroad (easy-peasy, right?). Don’t be afraid to get personal and really let your true colors fly — this is how you’ll stand out to the admissions counselors who are reading hundreds of personal statements and essays! 

[How to master study abroad scholarships for international students]

For example: “My grandparents emigrated from Argentina at the ripe, young age of 20 years-old, and throughout my entire life, I have been taught to love a country I have never met. My passion for studying the Spanish language, and gaining a deeper understanding of where my family comes from, has inspired me to apply to ______ study abroad program in Buenos Aires, Argentina.”

4. Supporting Statements

Up next in our study abroad essay tips: support your statement on why you want to study abroad by expanding on the ideas you presented in your introduction. This is where your brainstorming comes in! What has brought you to this point? What subjects studied, projects completed, or passions followed have made you choose to not only study abroad, but study abroad with this particular program?

Be honest and sincere. It’s okay if the main reason why you want to study literature in England is because you spent your childhood reading Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia. It’s perfectly acceptable if your love of the ocean comes from an obsession with sea turtles, which is why you’ve decided to study marine conservation in Costa Rica. Maybe you want to study in Germany because you’ve always had the goal of working in international business! These are the things that make you a unique and interesting prospective study abroad student!

Just be sure to always tie your passions, goals, and dreams back to how this study abroad experience will help you expand on these things and carry them with you through the rest of your life.

5. Get Detailed

When you’re describing the who, what, when, and why of your decision to study abroad, be sure to state your goals clearly. Passion is one thing, but your study abroad program also wants to know what it is exactly that you plan on gaining from this experience. How will this summer, semester, or year abroad bring you closer to your academic or career goals in the future?  

Example: “Through this study abroad program in Israel, I will expand my worldview and understanding of Middle Eastern cultures, which will, in turn, prepare me for my plans to pursue a graduate degree in Global Peace and Conflict Studies. With this, I hope to eventually utilize my experience and passion to work for the United Nations. Studying abroad will help me achieve these goals.” 

[Get custom program advice to study abroad]

6. Be Yourself!

In the world of academia, being formal and professional is key, but in the world of study abroad, it’s all about making those human connections beyond the borders of your own country! That’s why it’s so important to be yourself when writing your study abroad essay. Of course, always put in the time and effort so that your writing sounds smart, but don’t be afraid to add a little pizzaz and let your personality shine through! This will set you apart from other study abroad applications, and will give your study abroad program a much clearer sense of who you are as a student and a person.

7. A Two-Way Street

Ask not what you can do for your study abroad program, but what your study abroad program can do for you! Studying abroad isn’t just about what your study abroad program can provide you — you also need to prove your worth to the program’s officials. After all, you’ll be serving as an ambassador of your home country and this program in a completely different country. They want to be sure that they’re accepting dedicated and deserving students into their program, so that years from now, when you’re a famous scientist or a world-leading politician, they can point to you and say: “See that person? They studied abroad on our program!” 

A study abroad program’s reputation is dependent not only on the opportunities they build for their students, but also on the caliber of students that they bring in. So when writing your personal essay, be sure to highlight what you bring to the table and how you look forward to continuing your study abroad program’s mission.

Example: “As a participant in this program, I know that I could expand my worldview and continue <Insert Study Abroad Program Provider’s Namer>’s mission of creating global citizens by creating bridges between myself and other cultures.” 

8. A Solid Sprint to the Finish Line

As you conclude your study abroad essay, be sure to nail the point home and finish with a strong conclusion. You’ll have to tie together your original introduction, the reasons for studying abroad, and your goals for the future all together in a nice, clean, concluding two to three sentences. Don’t repeat yourself, but be sure that these final sentences pack a punch, and leave your study abroad program admissions officers ready to buy you your plane ticket outta here.

9. Edits & Revisions

Never hit submit without first revising and editing your essay two or three times! You might notice typos or awkward sentences at second glance, and you might also think of an exciting new idea you want to add in after your third look-over! It’s also always a good idea to have someone else to look at your essay, to get a fresh pair of eyes on your writing. 

[Use MyGoAbroad to bookmark & compare your fave programs]

10. Submit! (on time)

Once you’ve cleaned up your essay, upload that application and click submit! But, don’t forget to pay attention to all of the application deadlines, and be sure to get all of your relevant documents to the study abroad program on time! There’s no worse feeling in the world than having spent weeks perfecting an essay and application, only to have missed the deadline. 

A Pulitzer Prize-Winning Study Abroad Essay

With all of these study abroad essay tips, you might as well start packing! You’re well on your way to your grand adventure abroad, and by investing so much time and effort into your writing, your chosen study abroad program will be sure to accept you! Applying to study abroad can seem like a lot of work, but the minute you step off that plane and into your new home, you’ll realize that it was all worth it. 

Find a study abroad program & get writing!

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