“Let’s be honest: While a lot of good people are deeply invested in the transformative value of international education, a lot of money is changing hands in the study-abroad business. If study abroad is to assume a more central role in undergraduate education, we need to let go of the mythology and act on what we already know about… the impact of study-abroad marketing messages on diverse students’ intent to study abroad and what learning outcomes can realistically be expected from study abroad,” wrote by study abroad expert Mark Salisbury.
Recently I read some articles talking about the disadvantages of studying abroad and why students should not choose to study abroad but studying in their native countries. Many people argue that people are necessary to rethink about study abroad. Based on Salisbury’s idea, there are several reasons that convince readers not to study abroad are listed in many blogs, forums, and education webpages. They believe studying abroad is not as good as many people dream. How do you think about it?
In the past, study abroad has been only for wealthy people in a high social class; normal people focused only on the traditional method, studying in their native countries. In recent years, the opportunity to study abroad is becoming available for all people in the world. Increasing numbers of people choose to receive degrees in countries other than their native lands. A Harvard University study research of students studying abroad shows that “the number of international students worldwide rose from 0.8 million in 1975 to 3.7 million in 2009. In addition, the number is increasing by about 12% each year.” The increase of study abroad means that people are no longer limited; they have a chance to choose wherever they want to receive their education. However, many students, parents, and educators are starting to ask whether study abroad is really better than studying in their native country. I believe that both study abroad and study near home have advantages; however, as an international student, I chose to study abroad because I think it does offer more advantages.
A dissenting opinion is “The first disadvantage of studying abroad is the difficulty of communicating with people.” However, I believe, for one, study abroad is the best way to learn a language. In “Study Abroad Has Global Benefit,” the author Ann McClure shows that “most research on the benefits of study abroad has focused on the individual benefit to participants, such as language acquisition” (McClure11). Even though most countries encourage their citizens to learn second or third languages, people mainly speak their first language. It is hard for many to learn a foreign language when they live and study in their native countries because they have few chances to practice the new skills. This is one reason international students are challenged by the language when they first arrive. In addition, foreign countries often have a good language learning environment because students are forced to speak, hear, read, and write in a foreign language. They have opportunities to communicate with localsand to learn typical slang. During this process, students can turn short-term memory of a foreign language into long-term memory, starting to use the foreign language as fluently as their own. As Nate Nault says in his blog, “There are certain aspects of a language which can only be learned through experience.” There is no better way to learn a foreign language than by the “immersion” method.
Beyond language acquisition, people also acquire other benefits from study abroad.
These programs allow people to develop life skills that enable them to become more independent. International students stay far away from their parents and families, so when they meet difficulties, they must to find solutions on their own. Skills such as independence, decision making, time and financial management, and social skills will develop exponentially when studying abroad. In “Why Are They Better Students When They Come Back? Determinants of Academic Focusing Gains in the Study Abroad Experience,” Montclair State University Professor Benjamin Hadis says, Away from direct family contact-despite the ease of telephone and e-mail communication–a sojourn abroad within the structured context of a study abroad program is a ground conducive to taking responsibility for making one’s own decisions and to learn, with pleasure, that one can indeed do so” (6). International students cannot rely on their parents or families when studying abroad, so they must learn enough skills to survive in a foreign country. These skills will play significant roles in their lives.
McClure, Ann. “Study Abroad Has Global Benefit.” University Business, 12.4 (2009): 11.
Sood, Suemedha. “The Statistics of Studying Abroad.” BBC Travel, 09.26 (2012). Web, 07,06,2013.
Nault, Nate. “10 Reasons for Study Abroad.” Study Abroad Blog,. Web 07, 05, 2013.
Hadis, Benjamin F. “Why Are They Better Students when They Come Back? Determinants of Academic Focusing Gains in the Study Abroad Experience.” Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 11 (2005): 57-70.
Salisbury, Mark. “We’re Muddying the Message on Study Abroad.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. Jul, 30, 2012. Web. Jul, 07, 2013.
“Disadvantages of Studying Abroad.” 123HelpMe.com. 10 Jul 2013 . <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=34547>.