By Caitlin Hamstra, Ph.D.
There are many reasons students choose to study abroad for high school. Some reasons include wanting to broaden your horizons, learn about a new culture, enhance your language skills, and take charge of your futures. Once students make the decision to study abroad, they have a wide variety of experiences. Everybody has both positive and negative experiences while they study abroad, especially at the beginning. However, in the end, most students are really happy they made the decision to study abroad.
When students are studying abroad during high school in the US, what do they think are the best parts? According to international students studying at a US high school, there are three major advantages to studying abroad in the US for high school.
When you chose to study abroad, you get new experiences that you cannot get in your home country. You have different cultural experiences than you experience in your own country. When you are living abroad, you learn about a completely new way of life. For example, you experience different foods, you learn in a school that has a different way of teaching, and you meet new people who have different life experiences and outlooks.
When you choose to study abroad, you are putting yourself in a completely new and strange context. You have to push yourself to adjust to your new place, culture, and environments. Learning to adapt to these will help you with your future, including adjusting to college and work.
Become more independent
When you study abroad, you go to a new place all by yourself. This may be the first time you have been away from your family and friends, so you learn how to do things by yourself. For example, you may have to learn how to cook or do laundry, or you may have to learn how to ask others for help when you do not know how to do something. As you become more independent, you also learn to take responsibility for your actions in ways you have not had to do before. As you gain experiences in your new high school, you become more mature and learn how to handle situations or circumstances that you face by yourself.
There are many reasons and benefits to studying abroad, and when asked, international students at a US high school said that if you are interested, you should definitely study abroad. When asked what advice they have for students interested in studying abroad, this is what they said:
“Go for it! …Go study abroad. Go have an experience because you never know what could come out of it.” -11th grader from South Korea
“I think students should know that studying abroad is really worth it and that it might not be exactly what they pictured. They should also know that it's not scary and that they will get to experience a lot of new things that will definitely be useful in the future” –11th grader from Thailand
Studying abroad is a transformative experience—it can change your perspective on the world, your life, and who you are as a person. You will gain new experiences, challenge yourself in new ways, and become a more independent person. If you are interested in studying abroad… Go for it! You will have the experience of a lifetime.