How can you change the world if you don’t understand the world? How can you develop a global perspective if you haven’t experienced the world? How can you skillfully interact with people from different cultures if you’ve never immersed yourself in a culture other than your own?
It is for this reason that we value the studying or living abroad experience. We value this experience at the college, graduate school, and job-seeking levels, all around the world. In fact, institutions at these levels believe in the lessons gained from studying abroad—in particular, developing a global perspective—so much that they have become an integral part of many institution’s mission statements.
“We education leaders who make a difference in the world”
“Our mission is to create ideas that deepen and advance our understanding of management and with those ideas to develop innovative, principled, and insightful leaders who change the world.”
“Three ongoing objectives shape how we put the mission into practice today:
Imagine traveling to a new country for a couple of months. You get there, you don’t understand the language, you can’t find your apartment or get to your classes using public transportation, and you definitely can’t order a meal from a restaurant. It’s hard! You’re forced to adapt (or possibly go hungry). You need to learn, ask questions, navigate tricky situations, and find comfort outside of the bubble of your own country. This is a skill and studying abroad helps you develop it.
When you live or study in a foreign country, you must learn the language, or parts of it. You have to learn the essentials (telling a taxi where you want to go, asking where the restroom is, ordering a meal, saying nice to meet you, etc). But more than that, you need to learn to communicate with people who have grown up in a totally different educational, political, and social culture than your own. The people you’re interacting with are coming from a different starting point than you and will likely have totally different experiences and perspectives. You need to be able find the common ground to have productive conversations.
When you leave the United States, you learn a lot—about different cultures, religions, history, customs, and more. We do things differently in the US. And other countries do things differently than we do. For example, if you travel to China, you’ll learn that it is totally acceptable to yell out “waiter!” at a restaurant when you want to order or need something. It is not rude or pushy or obnoxious; it’s the norm. Now, imagine how you’d react if someone did that in the US. You’d likely think that person was incredibly rude. But because you’ve traveled to China, in this scenario, you understand where that person is coming from and chalk this up to a cultural difference instead of rudeness. Having immersed yourself in a foreign country, you’ve gained exposure to major differences, and are now more culturally aware.
Studying or living abroad can be lonely if you let it be. If exploring, trying new things, or meeting new people comes naturally to you, then you’re going to have an amazing time. If it doesn’t, then you’ll have to work on that. But both ways, there are bound to be challenges and some quiet times. It is in these moments, that you will learn a lot about yourself—your personality, your areas for improvement, who you are, what you want in life (you know, all the small stuff).
For all of the reasons above, studying/living abroad will make you a stronger candidate for college and graduate school admissions and even jobs. Per the mission statements above, it will definitely help your business school resumé. Of course, you have to actually learn something and have meaningful things to say about your experience abroad, but just the fact that you did it and survived will help. Why? Because schools are looking for engaged, interesting human beings who can and want to dive deep into and contribute to their communities—during and after school. And, of course, who will make an impact at the global level, all around the world!
Experience abroad is a major selling point for school and job admissions. It’s also a major selling point for students in picking school or job opportunities. After reading this article, I hope you know why!