The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

How Student Experiences Abroad Enrich Higher Education


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Exploring other countries and cultures can, quite literally, make you smarter and more resilient. Sounds too good to be true? It isn’t. By engaging with the world beyond your home country, with perspectives and experiences that are outside of familiarity, you broaden your horizons and learn how to (better) deal with uncertainty.

This “broadening of the mind” can not only make you more creative and open-minded, but help you hold multiple, sometimes conflicting, viewpoints in mind at the same time. In other words, traveling abroad can actually make you smarter.

Why Cultural Exploration Matters?

If we were allowed to use only one descriptor for today’s world, we’d use “interconnected.” Everything that holds our world together – economies, cultures, and technologies – is closely linked, making global awareness more important than ever for students.

Practically speaking, stepping outside your familiar and comfortable bubble is what allows you to expand your horizons and enhance your understanding of diverse perspectives. This is particularly valuable in higher education, because a broader worldview encourages critical thinking, innovation, and a deeper engagement with complex global issues.

So, how do you acquire these experiences? There are multiple ways to do this, and you can choose one, several, or even all if you want to enrich not only your higher education but – not to be dramatic – your life.

Studying Abroad

One of the most direct ways to experience a new culture is by studying abroad. Immersing yourself in a different educational system can give you a fresh perspective on your field of study.

You interact with international faculty, collaborate with students from various backgrounds, and perhaps learn in a language that’s not your own. All of this fosters resilience and resourcefulness, making you more adept at handling complex problems.

Trekking in Distant Locations

Another enriching experience is trekking through remote or culturally rich locations. This not only challenges you physically but also mentally. Navigating unfamiliar terrains and engaging with local communities along the way can teach you about other nations’ way of life and their challenges.

For instance, the Tour du Mont Thabor, a popular student travel destination, offers not only stunning alpine scenery but also a chance to interact with people from different cultures along the route.

Such experiences build character and a deeper appreciation for the diversity of human experience. Plus, the sense of accomplishment after completing a trek like this is unparalleled and can go a long way in supporting your personal development.

Volunteering and Service Learning

Volunteering abroad allows you to give back to communities while learning from them. Service learning projects can be particularly useful, as they can help you gain real-world experiences in various communities.

For example, volunteering in an environmental conservation project in Costa Rica can deepen your understanding of ecology and sustainability practices. You learn about local biodiversity, conservation techniques, and the socio-economic factors affecting the environment. Such hands-on experiences reinforce academic lessons and offer insights into how you can contribute to global solutions.

Engaging in Local Festivals and Traditions

When traveling, try to participate in local festivals and traditions as this is a perfect opportunity to get a firsthand look at a culture’s essence, or if you’re more poetically inclined, a culture’s soul.

These events are often steeped in history and provide an immersive learning experience. After all, during a festival, you get to witness the community’s collective spirit, their ways of celebrating life, and their means of preserving heritage. It’s a great and fun way to enhance your cultural literacy.

Language Learning

Learning a new language is not only an enriching experience, it can actually boost your alertness and focus.

Also, language is deeply intertwined with culture, and learning it opens doors to more profound interactions and understanding. Whether through formal classes or casual conversations with locals, improving your language skills can enhance your cognitive abilities, as well as cultural empathy.

Finally, don’t forget to build friendships and other connections when traveling. The relationships that cross cultural boundaries can offer both personal and professional support throughout your life, giving you a broader perspective and a richer pool of resources to draw upon in your future endeavors.

Branded content furnished by our promotional partners. The Daily Sundial editorial staff is not involved in its production. Content does not reflect the views or opinions of the editorial staff.
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