So your study abroad experience has ended. Perhaps you are home and looking for a summer job, or permanent employment. Your study abroad experience has changed your life, but did you know it can also land you your dream job? There are many skills that you have gained during your time abroad that set you apart from other applicants. Here are a few to help you turn your next job interview into a conversation about your study abroad experience and help you land the job:
For the majority of students I have spoken with wishing to participate in a study abroad program, funding is a major barrier. Many students pass up the opportunity of their dreams because they are already swimming in student loans and cannot think of adding to this burden. Beyond dipping into your savings, adding to your debt load, or working yourself to the bone, there are a number of ways to acquire the funds you need.
Do your homework. This goes both literally and figuratively. Many study abroad programs take academic achievement into account when selecting applicants, so hit those books. Additionally, researching the country you are applying to visit will not only help get you excited to study abroad, it will improve your understanding of the country’s culture, history and politics, as well as enhance your experience during your time abroad.
Some topics I researched before my trip to Japan:
Before I actually began packing for my study abroad trip, I felt as though I had really been packing mentally for months. I thought about which particular articles of clothing I would need during the rainy English winter, whether I would need anything fancy, and specific supplies that I would need in my dorm room.
Humans are dynamic. We are always changing, learning and growing. The person you are after your study abroad experience will likely be different from who you are now. Here are three attributes that you can cultivate to help you during your study abroad, and beyond.
Having completed a study semester abroad in England, I was given many travel opportunities during my time there. Overall, I was able to visit 16 different countries over the course of a few months. I was able to travel both in a group and with just one friend, but I also took a few trips alone. I consider myself a pretty independent person, however whether or not you are should not affect your ability to travel solo. Travelling in a group has its perks, but I believe travelling alone almost has more.
It was 9 am and my clothes were already sticking to my skin as we strolled down the cracked streets towards the riverbank. I needed to make one quick stop at the little money exchange kiosk at the end of the block. A man in a white t-shirt and jean shorts sat on a wooden chair with a crate propped up beside him. I needed more pesos, so I plopped down a crisp fifty-dollar American bill and a used looking twenty. He pushed the twenty back and pointed at the folded corner; damaged bills were not accepted. I was told this was a common request among rural exchanges.
I recently returned from a study abroad exchange in Japan—my second experience, the first being a field school in Mexico. My experience in Japan was culturally more fulfilling, which I credit to, this time, staying with a host family. Here are a few perks of living with a host family:
When I first experienced what people call it, the ‘reverse culture shock’, I was quite bummed out because having lived in Vancouver for over 20 years, I thought I knew the city pretty well. I didn’t think that living in South Korea for one year would change my mindset and behaviour this much upon my return, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. For those of you experiencing reverse culture shock and struggling to “re-live” the life prior to living abroad, just know that you will eventually adapt. All you need is time; because after all, you are returning home.
Travelling is a big must-do for study abroad students. Take advantage of the fact that you are at a school surrounded by students who share the same mindset as you. You can learn about one another during your travels together, and better yet learn about a new culture together. Chances are that you are also geographically a lot closer to several different cities and countries than you were in Canada too (since Canada is so spread out)!