Sitting in a classroom, listening to a professor speak or reading a textbook may be enough for some students. But for others, the education they get in a classroom doesn't compare to the education that the world has to offer. By studying abroad, students get the opportunity to learn about themselves and the world outside the four walls.
Besides learning by exploring a new culture and environment, research shows that studying abroad has benefited students when looking for employment. Scott Keller, Director for the Center of Global Learning at Saint Peter’s University, believes that having a travel abroad experience on your resume is a key factor. It helps distinguish a candidate apart from other job applicants by highlighting their diversity and ability to take on challenges.
Studying abroad in college is what set Keller to his career choices. Keller did a semester in Poland because he wanted to meet his Polish relatives and learn about their traditions. However, he left with much more than that. During his study abroad trip, he realized he was following the wrong career path. Studying abroad helped him figure out what we wanted to do in life and helped him with jobs after college.
“Studying in Poland just open a world of opportunities,” said Keller “I met some people there who convinced me to come back after graduation to teach English for a year so that is what I did right out of college.”
After Poland, Keller worked and volunteered in other countries before settling at Saint Peter’s. Keller believes that he would not have considered any of his works in foreign countries if he had not taken the first step and studied abroad in college. Now, he has visited about 65 countries, yet he says he still has so many other adventures out there waiting for him.
“Everyday there is something new. A new food to taste, a new museum to go to, a new person to meet,” said Keller. “There is an adventure around every corner when you are studying abroad.”
Communications student Alexis Morales can attest to this as she has been studying at Saint Mary’s University in London this past semester. She has been loving the experience, and her favorite part has been meeting new people and listening to their stories.
“It’s so eye-opening to hear about everyone’s experiences,” said Morales. “Just to think about how different all of our lives are yet we’ve all made it to this point.”
Besides gaining what she hopes to be lifelong friendships, Morales has also expressed how this travel has made her mentally stronger. Although she appreciates the company of good people, she likes the fact that she has become more independent because she is more confident in her own abilities.
Sophomore George Kourmousis has also adapted a new lifestyle after going to Japan with the business department during spring break. He was excited to grasp a better understanding of the Japanese economy as they are one of the top leading countries. But he also learned how to become more patient after experiencing the Japanese culture. He explained how Japanese people were so tranquil that it inspired him to take things more slowly and not rush into them.
This travel course to Japan also taught him that in order to understand cultures and the world, one must travel and see it.
“I don’t believe a classroom does any help at all. I believe the more you get on a plane, the more you spend somewhere else but your home country, that's how you learn,” said Kourmousis.
Keller encourages students to travel abroad because he loves to see the personal growth that it brings upon students. He believes that it helps students become more aware of what they truly want in life and of their capability to take on life’s challenges.
“Before study abroad, you have these false limitations,” said Keller, “you don't know exactly what you can accomplish until you push yourselves a little bit pass your comfort zone.”