The benefits of studying abroad are countless. Not only will I have my own incredible personal experiences, but I will also glean new skills and perspectives to take with me into my everyday life as well as into the work place. As I hope to embark in the field of social work, the benefits of studying abroad seem somewhat obvious.
First of all, I am learning and perfecting my communications skills in another language. As a social worker, I will likely have numerous opportunities to work with people whose first language is not English. Being able to communicate in Spanish allows me to more fully interact with and help a wider range of people. This is important because a language barrier shouldn’t get in the way of someone being heard, understood, and empowered.
Secondly, I am gleaning an understanding of what it’s like to live in a new and very different culture. Regardless of where you look, there are always people who are out of their element and a bit lost. Having been pulled out of my own culture and expected to live somewhere completely different, I will be able to better relate to those who feel out of place and unsure of how to do things “right” because I too have felt those things.
Thirdly, I am discovering how to better interact with people who are different than me. While I encounter people who are different than me every day in the States, those people are still in many ways very similar to me. Living in new culture gives me the opportunity gain a better understanding of what it takes to connect with people who are “very” different than me….or not so very different as the case may be. This is important because in social work, I will be working with people whose lives have been shaped by experiences that I have not personally encountered and by learning how to better connect with those people, I am given the opportunity to empower them.
The experiences I have had and will have while studying abroad will impact the way I live my life both personally and within my career.
The world awaits…discover it.