Studying abroad is a great experience to have under your belt regardless of your major. For me, it was something I really wanted as a memory during my four years in college, but it proved to be a little challenging to find a program that would fulfill my Pre-Med requirements. In order to study abroad and still receive academic credit, I decided I’d declare a French minor and study in France for the summer! Although I did not receive credit for my degree in science, there are aspects of studying abroad that can be applied to my professional endeavors in the future.
1. Studying abroad gives you skills (and experience!) to add to your resume.
This may be the most obvious, and most practical, but studying abroad is a great experience to add to your resume and a great talking point during an interview. Studying abroad shows that you took initiative during your college years and spent your summer (or semester) doing something different than the typical seasonal job. You never know- your interviewer could have studied in the same location as you, which could lead to a possible advantage over other job candidates! Also, for Pre-Med students, living in a different country for an extended period of time allows you to see the differences in healthcare and the benefits/disadvantages of the healthcare system in both places.
2. Studying abroad gives you a change of scenery.
If you’re a Pre-Med student like me, you probably try to survive one semester at a time. The five weeks I spent studying French was a much needed change from the rigorous science classes I was taking. Don’t get me wrong- I love the career path I’m on- but sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the rigor while still learning something. If you have that ‘burned-out’ feeling, maybe use a study abroad opportunity as a chance to pursue an area you might not have as much time for during your regular school schedule.
3. Studying abroad teaches you how to be bold/conquer unfamiliar surroundings.
This lesson is applicable for any major or profession. So many times while I was abroad I would have no idea what I was doing- whether it was trying to find my ride at the airport, trying to catch the right bus, or simply checking out at the grocery store. There were several instances when I just thought, “Well, I guess I’ll just try this!” Sometimes you have to emit confidence and just go for it. At any point in your career, you might have to deal with an unfamiliar situation or challenging decision. In my future medical training, physicians will ask me what I think the treatment of care should be for a patient, and I will have to make some quick, informative decisions. Hopefully I will remember what I learned in France and I will be able to give a confident opinion. Studying abroad taught me that I am capable of so much more than I thought, and that is a lesson I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.
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