Beyond the degree – 10 benefits of studying abroad

12:19 PM

I've finished my master's degree. Actually, I did it two weeks ago but I've been in some sort of trance until now. It's over. Feels like it was yesterday when I was leaving all behind to chase a dream. I wanted to start over. I wanted to grow. I wanted to do better. Here I am, 10 months later with my degree and a heart full of experiences that surpassed my expectations. We often plan and plan, creating mental pictures of everything that will happen, as if we could predict the future. It is precisely the twists of life, the unexpected, that end up being far more important than what we thought would matter. 

Studying abroad has been a step that has marked my life deeply. When I look back 10 months ago and reflect over the person that I was, I wonder how I held on for so long. But I’m not here to talk about some dark feelings, I’m here to tell you ten reasons why you should study abroad

  1. Gaining independence – living miles away from home means nobody is going to do things for you. You have to do it on your own. The “adult life” won’t hit your harder than when you move abroad and must deal with all the bureaucratic procedures such as visa, residence/student permit, bank accounts, health insurance, and apartment search. Then of course there’s paying bills, studying, searching for internships, and working. 
  2. Sharpening your decision-making process – if you mess up, there’s nobody to safe you. You have to learn how to manage your budget and evaluate what you really need. My motto? There’s always a smarter way to do something. 
  3. Learning to live with less – I was economical before but when I got to Barcelona, I came with a set budget. It was my responsibility to make it last until the end. When you really stick to what's essential, you realize how often you buy things you don’t need. 
  4. A new, healthier, happier lifestyle – Living in Barcelona has been the most fulfilling experience ever. I have been genuinely happy for the first time in my life, and I owe it all to this. Among the things that I’ve valued the most are: quality of life, feeling safe, an effective public transport, recycling, having fun, being able to lie on the beach without nobody disturbing me, going to museums for free, being able to walk around without catcalling, traveling on a budget. The little things indeed make the difference. Always focus on changing for the best. 
  5. Working on a culturally-different environment – if you study abroad, you need to do an internship. It is such a rich experience that allows you to grow professionally and gives you a perspective of what it is like to work with culturally-different people. I promise you it’s worth the pain of finding a place. 
  6. Making friends from around the world 🌍– when you live so far away from home, the friends you make become family. We only had each other so the bond I created with them is life-changing and permanent. There's a sense of trust, of understanding that only people who go through the same things that you do, have. With them you laugh, you cry, you fight. And at the end of the day I can say that my friends made everything worth it.
  7. Traveling 🛪– few things in life help you gain perspective like traveling. I’ve traveled quite a lot -more than I planned to- and immersing myself in other cultures has been amazing. I’ve traveled both with friends and alone and there’s a sense of pride when you manage to organize a trip on your own, figure out the local transport, the best places to eat, see an entire city in a day and even communicate in the local language. 
  8. Chasing a dream or two you didn’t know you had – like I said before, life is full of twists and one thing leads to another. I came to Barcelona and spontaneously decided that it was now or never to attend a Bundesliga match in Germany. Fast forward to now, I attended two matches in Munich and those trips made me realize how much I wanted to learn German. So next month I will be pursuing my A1 Deutsch level. Talk about how football has changed my life 😉 
  9. Becoming stronger – all the above helps you become a stronger person and makes you realize you’re capable of achieving things you didn’t know you could. 
  10. Earning your degree and taking your career forward 🎓– because, after all, that’s why we came here for, right? It’s number 10 not because it’s the least important, but because the truly life-changing are the nine above. A degree? You can also earn it at home. A life-changing experience? You have to go out and chase it
So that’s my take on what you truly gain from studying abroad, beyond the degree. I encourage you to move out, to seek an experience in a foreign country even if it’s for a couple of weeks or months. Take a course, do an erasmus, participate in an exchange program, do volunteer work. I promise you that you won’t regret it.


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