It’s not difficult to make the argument to go for a gap year abroad. Travel, adventure, new friends, and experiences. What's not to like! If you still have some reservations, maybe you think it’s not worth the financial and emotional stresses, here are three sure-fire ways we think studying abroad and traveling will not only make you a better person but drastically improve your future opportunities too.
There simply is no supplement for real world experience, especially when it comes to understanding the many different ways people live, their cultures, and the ways in which we all fit together. Fully immersive experiential travel and study abroad programs take you beyond the screen of tourism into the true lives of people around the world.
As they say, life begins at the end of your comfort zone, and while traveling as a tourist certainly exposes you to a country’s culture and its people, becoming a part of the community does so much more.
It can be difficult to understand how and why people do what they do, believe in what they believe in, eat what they eat… but the everyday immersion that travel provides gives you an all-access pass to understanding and compassion. Everyone’s experiences are different, unique, and important.
Travelling abroad not only opens your mind to new perspectives but helps develop personal insight as well. Often we don’t even realize we see things differently until we come up against contrasting attitudes.
Impress Universities and Employers
Students applying to universities are now facing steep competition. Admission boards require the highest of grade point averages, the longest list of extracurricular activities, and more and more unique individuals.
You can set yourself apart by being an applicant who has pushed the boundaries of their comfort zones and put both their critical and emotional skills to the test by traveling and studying abroad. Studies show that traveling and attending university abroad actually makes people smarter, or better at critical thinking. Time.com reports, “students who adopted an open and adaptive attitude toward foreign cultures became better able to make connections among disparate ideas” in addition to being “better able to generate creative ideas” (Paul 2014).
Many study abroad programs offer college credit as well, so summer and gap year programs prior to entry at university work quite well in student’s favor. Not sure exactly what you want to study? You can take some time for reflection and self-discovery on a program anywhere in the world. Students who study abroad early tend to have a better understanding of what it is they want to study and ultimately spend their life doing, and by default spend less time and money at university in pre-requisite classes or jumping from one major to the next.
Employers pick from lists full of individuals with the same education, same qualifications, and often same background. Just as admissions boards at universities look for those who stand out from the crowd, potential employers will be well impressed by your initiative to truly experience the world and the challenges travel entail at an age where many don't.
Spending time abroad inevitably leads to a whole group of new friends and acquaintances. Many connections made at this time of your life can have a huge bearing on your life at a later date - jobs in new cities or countries may open up from travel buddies, or those who have studied similar fields and remember you as a great person who could suit working with them now.
Not only will semester and gap year study abroad programs introduce you to loads of new people, but the relationships you form while traveling are stronger than most. Staying safe, experiencing new things constantly, and getting the most out of your adventure requires top-notch travel buddies. The people you meet along the way are just as important and will encompass an even larger portion of your new network, so be friendly, be genuine, and keep in contact.
Here at Pure Exploration, we specialize in helping young people have life-changing tours of New Zealand. Whether it's summer or winter, a gap year or a find yourself year, a semester abroad or an adventure education internship program, we have all your options covered.
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Pure Exploration are everyday Kiwis, helping people have extraordinary experiences. We are a travel company, but really more into providing experiences. Activity-based travel that kicks ass.
Real travel isn’t just about box-ticking guidebook recommendations or Instagram shots, it’s about authentic experiences spent with new friends who inspire you to think about the world and yourself in new ways.
Our aim is to help young people develop all the skills necessary to attack their goals in life and have the confidence to move forward into their next level of education or employment.
Written by Kaylee Pickett
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Paul, A. M. (2014, April 29). How Studying or Working Abroad Makes You Smarter. Retrieved July 18, 2017, from http://time.com/79937/how-studying-or-working-abroad-makes-you-smarter/