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In two years, I will walk across a grand stage, in front of hundreds of people, along with 1,500 of my friends and classmates, shake a few hands and receive my college diploma. I will graduate with a B.S. in Business Administration, a concentration in Finance and a minor in Global Studies. Great… but what do all of those unnecessarily long titles really mean? How am I going to be different from the other 1,500 students graduating with me? And what will I have to show for this $120,000 piece of paper. My answer to that: globalized experience. Source: NLG

I am a true believer that the best kind of learning does not only happen inside a classroom. It also happens in working, traveling, experiencing and actually doing! This past spring semester, I studied abroad through a program offered at my college called ASAP (Asia Study Abroad Program). This is a four month traveling program designed for business and communication majors that takes a group of college students throughout Asia. Myself, along with seventeen other students and two professors traveled to India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Japan and Nepal studying international business and Asian culture. That’s twelve countries, 21 cities/towns, over 15 languages, one medium sized suitcase and A LOT of rice.

The four months I spent in Asia were some of the best times of my life. Not only was I able to experience new cultures and truly explore some of the greatest corners of the world, but I also gained more knowledge of the business world, how to interact with different kinds of people and overall I obtained a better understanding of the way the world works outside of the United States.

My study abroad experience was more unique than a typical semester abroad because it was a multi- country program, and I was not stationed in one place for a long period of time. But there is no doubt of the numerous benefits you can receive from any kind of world travel experience in college. As a college degree is becoming increasingly common, and more students are graduating and entering the work force every year, it’s crucial to bring to the table something more than just four years of undergraduate completion and a decent GPA. A recent article from Forbes claims,“If every candidate a company is interviewing comes from the same school, took the same classes, got similar grades, had leadership roles in similar clubs ­- it really comes down to who the interviewer thinks is the most interesting. Traveling does wonders for making people more interesting.” Studying abroad represents global exposure and experience, which is a unique credential employers recognize and value, and helps you to stand out in a sea of other candidates.

Below are reasons why I believe studying abroad is crucial for college students:

  1. Personal growth and maturity

  2. Professional growth

  3. Becoming truly independent

  4. Opportunity to learn or experience a new language

  5. Understand your major in a new way

  6. Meet new people and make friends

  7. Gain a renewed appreciation for your home country

  8. Have fun!

A semester abroad can be a blast, but requires a lot of preparation and work beforehand. Applying for visas, adjusting cell phone plans to international coverage, booking flights, getting classes approved with the home and abroad Universities, sorting out international health insurance and stocking up on prescription drugs are just a few of the items that would be on the pre-departure checklist. I will agree, planning and organizing for something like this can be aggravating and extremely time intensive. But, in my opinion it is all worth the while.

I won’t ignore the fact that studying abroad is expensive. Sight-seeing, traveling, and other living expenses can add up quickly. But there are ways to decrease costs if you spend your money wisely. Besides, I couldn’t put a price tag on the incredible experiences and memories I made while abroad.

So when graduation day arrives and I do receive my diploma, it will not only represent my knowledge of debits on the left and credits on the right, but a cultural understanding, globalized experience and an overall better appreciation of the world we work and live in.

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