A student’s experience abroad is unique, non-transferable and enduring. Given these premises, any student who has the slightest opportunity to study in a country other than his or her own should not hesitate to do so. It doesn’t matter if it’s an academic year, a semester or a summer month. But why study abroad after Covid-19? Even today, without knowing what the economic, political, personal and emotional consequences will be, this international experience becomes essential.
From Beststepsabroad we encourage you to do it without any doubt. In addition to the well-known reasons that we all know (such as access to a better job, learning another language, travelling, etc, and which you can also find here), we are going to give you 5 reasons that explain why you should study abroad after Covid-19.
- To get to know another culture from the inside
- To practice self-criticism
- It increases empathy and compassion
- It encourages solidarty and understanding
- To generate interest in knowledge, curiosity
To get to know another culture from the inside
With or without Covid-19, we live in a global world. With this pandemic, we have already seen the need to know our fellow man even if he is more than 1000km away. The knowledge of a different culture, makes us first know better our own. But it also makes it easier to understand the mechanisms that move certain societies in the global world. It is not enough to know by books what a monument is like, or why a citizenry behaves in one way or another. We have to live it! Books don’t smell, you’ll never know what paella tastes like if you don’t try it. The same thing happens with the knowledge of a culture from the inside, that you have to live it to understand it and assimilate it.
To practice self-criticism
Exposure to a different culture with a different language can push you to limits that would not be possible in your comfort zone. Adapting to a situation that you have only read about in books, and heard from your peers, highlights your capacity for resilience, flexibility, a sense of humor. And above all, patience.
Lack of self-criticism lasts shortly in a foreign experience. By nature, we complain, and if we don’t have a reason, we ask for it. If you at least analyze what part of the blame you carry in that complaint, it would at least be productive. But how often do you blame the other person? The very circumstance of living in a foreign country forces you to look at yourself in a different way in order to survive. Sooner or later it will come, it’s just a matter of time, but it’s better if it comes sooner so that your Program Director can give you the necessary tools to manage it.
It increases empathy and compassion
Covid-19 has brought us many misfortunes for all the victims that unfortunately left us in the world, but it also continues to leave us many lessons to learn. The communication we had with our family, friends and neighbors has been unparalleled. And on a more particular academic level, the ones we maintained with our students became primary to ALL of us to cope with the situation. Our girls left in mid-March to return to their homes and the emptiness was indescribable. Suddenly the world stopped. And after a week, we were sending each other hugs and kisses through the computer because they had to interrupt their experience.
But that empathy in a normal situation abroad, is acquired starting with oneself when one steps for the first time in the host city, for us, Granada. It is the feeling of not understanding the situation, of not knowing how you are going to get on with your host family, if you are going to like the food, if your GPA is going to be affected… In a study abroad experience, solidarity begins with your fellow travelers, with the students in the program themselves. It doesn’t matter if they share your same political ideology, sexual condition, race or religion. At that point, those students are in your same circumstances and suddenly become your family. Empathy is not mandatory, it is human, another example of natural survival. Because this kind of experience is as human as it is academic, that’s why you can’t stop doing it.
It encourages solidarity and understanding
An experience abroad also opens the mind even if you don’t want to. Simply by being exposed to situations or ideas that are new to you. You are a foreigner in a country where you know the culture and the language from books and you realize that those inmigrant vendors, or who risk their lives for a better future, are also foreigners. But in different circumstances than you, of course.
The families you live with, their home, their habits, become yours. After travelling around Europe with your friends, you go back to your room where your things are and your family is waiting for you to tell them about your adventures. If you also do an internship, or a social volunteering, you see another reality with which you may be familiar because you had previous experience, but here you learn that the same thing is different.
Because that’s the beauty of it. The exchange of experiences to find understanding with your host family, with your classmates and programmates, with the group you have joined to collaborate or to enlarge your resume. That exchange that nourishes, that makes this one of the best life experiences possible.
To generate interest in knowledge, curiosity.
I hope that by now, you have encouraged yourself a little to come to Spain. You know, when time goes by and you start to adapt to the city, the family, the classes, the culture in general, you want more. You feel comfortable and the vital need is to try to understand why here in Spain, we do things this way. Everyday life encourages you to want to discover places and reasons to make you feel better in your own world, within the bubble of what studying abroad is all about.
The way we cook, the mealtimes, the shopping hours, the historical references, how we enjoy ourselves and when we claim ourselves, will constantly surround you. The news on TV and the different points of view at the table will be your lunches. It is inevitable to try to find answers to those thousands of questions that you will ask yourself when your senses are in permanent contact with a society that is not yours. Moreover, you will not be the only foreign student in the country. You will meet other students from other cultures that will enrich your experience even more. On your travels, in your classes, when you go out dancing, you will always be struck by something and you will have no choice but to investigate.
There are no drawbacks, everything is an advantage in terms of why study abroad after Covid-19. It is true that you need money to do it but there is no better investment for your studies. Besides, after a while, it will only be about money and you will forget about it. What will last will be the learning and the memory of all those people you met in your adventure.
The fact of including in this post Covid-19 is none other than the need to understand more than ever, that neither fear nor remote learning should be an impediment to maintaining human contact in Education.