Society is increasingly interconnected and the need for culturally adept citizens, those who know about and are able to work across cultural boundaries is important. Rapidly expanding technology and transportation connect all corners of the globe and to remain competitive among your peers from overseas, you need to be able to negotiate within a worldwide context. You can also strengthen your foreign language ability, increase your knowledge of a particular discipline, and enhance your classroom learning with experiential learning. Better still, through an overseas experience, you can gain a more global perspective that may allow you to see the rest of the world with “new eyes.” If you take the time to include overseas study as part of your education, you may also reap the benefits of cross-cultural living within the boundaries of the U.S. Studying abroad may also help you succeed in our exceedingly multicultural American society. Many students describe overseas study as a life-changing experience. It will affect the way you relate to your own culture as well as to the rest of the world.
Why Study Abroad?
Study abroad is an extension of, not a break from, your Villanova education. You will learn in a new environment, study topics from a different perspective and be challenged by new ideas in your academic pursuits. Study abroad is an opportunity to take a class that you can't find at Villanova, to explore an area of interest outside your major, or to examine your chosen discipline from a different point of view. Language students can also work on their fluency and take classes in the host language alongside local students.
Many students return from study abroad and call it a 'life changing' experience, and for a lot of people this is true. But what factors contribute to making study abroad life changing? First, it depends on you as an individual being open to new ideas and to different ways of thinking and doing things. If you enter in to a study abroad experience with an open mind and a willingness to accept the challenge, you can develop a broader world view. Second, immersion in and engagement with local communities provides opportunities to be challenged, ask questions and learn out side of the classroom. Third, personal and guided reflections on your experiences can aid your individual growth and allow time to process all that you have learned.
Cultural intelligence is the capability to relate and work effectively in culturally diverse situations and this ability can be developed through a study abroad experience. Students who learn to work in, relate to and accept different cultural viewpoints and attitudes will be better positioned to take on the future challenges. Our students will be called upon to answer global questions and to solve international problems and a study abroad experience can prepare students for this future challenge.
Study abroad experiences can help students develop skills that employers are looking for in the global economy. Skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork, collaboration, and leadership can all be developed as part of a successful international education experience. Furthermore, students who study abroad can work to identify areas that will support their career readiness and can focus on these areas during a study abroad summer or semester. International internships aren't the only way for students to develop career readiness and important work related skills, but they are a way for students to test career assumptions early in their academic career.