Studying abroad aids personal development

Studying overseas can have a positive impact on a young individual’s personal development, new research has shown. Published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the study looked at a sample of more than 1,000 students from around 200 German universities for the duration of an academic year, including those who headed abroad and those who stayed in Germany.

It was shown that individuals who studied in a different country tended to be more open minded, conscientious and extraverted than those who remained at home.Dr Julia Zimmerman from Jena University said: “Those who spent some time abroad profit in their personality development, for instance in terms of growing openness and emotional stability.”She explained one of the reasons for this is because individuals who are able to integrate into a different culture will find it less difficult to get to grips with new challenges and cope with new situations.

Chartered Psychologist Dr Kate Sparks comments:

“Studying abroad can certainly aid personal development as it can broaden one’s mind in terms of experiencing different cultures, meeting new people and learning the social rules and etiquette within that culture. It would also increase conscientiousness as they begin to realise that others from different backgrounds may perceive the world differently from themselves and so become more mindful of others in situations.”This can also increase self-confidence as individuals realise that they are able to meet and befriend other people from different backgrounds, especially in circumstances where they may have to make the first step in meeting others. Realising that they can cope in such situations and in cultures different from their own would enhance social confidence whether the individual was an introvert or extravert to begin with.

“And, yes, those individuals who studied abroad would generally be more extrovert and open-minded to begin with, in order to want to study abroad.”