The time spent in  abroad makes more confident, sociable, and driven to take on greater challenges.  It changes our self-concept in small ways and make us feel a part of broader greater world. Some people change a lot through study abroad and others not much.

What do you think a person gains from study abroad?  What determines how much they change?

Studying abroad primarily accomplishes three things:

  • Redefining a person’s understanding of valid and possible

Studying abroad exposes distinct features  that are different in almost every aspect of life and thus forever afterwards, the person questions if anything and everything is really the only right way to do things.

  • Reinforcing what we as humans share – our humanity.

Connection is universal. In many ways, once a person “connects” with someone of the native culture the entire society can change from “zoo animals” that you’re observing through involvement into living, breathing, real human beings.  It significantly increases your capacity for understanding.

  • Increases an individual’s independence and self-analysis

Especially when you are immersed in a foreign culture that speaks a different language, as you learn the language you can, in a sense, shape your personality given the life lessons you’ve learned in your native life in your home culture. It’s a bit like being recovered with a perfect memory of your past life. If you succeed in integrating with the culture this is hugely empowering and leads you to ask who else you can become.

The effectiveness of studying abroad is entirely based on who you live with.  If you live with a group of other foreigners there is a very high probability of developing a “live-in zoo” complex, i.e. a group of visitors looking at exotic creatures as if they were all in cages and behind glass walls.  Living with a host family or a native resident exposes you to facets of daily life that are only expressed privately, the parts that make us human.