Published on February 10, 2017, at 4:34 p.m.
by Clara Balestrieri.
To travel is to see the world, to see and experience a way of culture and way of life that we are not yet familiar with. To say studying abroad changed my life is an understatement. It opened countless doors and exposed me to worlds I never even knew existed. My perspectives were broadened immeasurably, along with my outlooks and respect for different cultures and ways of life.
We’ve all heard it before: “Study abroad; you have to study abroad; it will change your life!” Have you ever really considered what a profound, positive influence it could have on your life? Before I committed to my program, I had more questions than I can list, and my uncertainty dissuaded me from applying. The potential problems ranged from costs to how the grading system works, and everything in between.
It wasn’t until I coincidentally stopped to admire the photos by the Study Abroad Office in the hallway of B.B. Comer Hall on the University of Alabama campus that I considered taking a look inside and really exploring what the program entailed. The people in the office were more than willing to help me and before I knew it, my questions were answered, my worries assuaged, and I couldn’t find a reason NOT to study abroad. I picked a country and began the process of applying.
According to a study conducted by The Institute for Education of Students program on the long-term impact of studying abroad, “95% of the students who were surveyed admitted that studying abroad served as a catalyst for increased maturity, 96% reported increased self-confidence, and 95% said it had a lasting impact on their worldview.”
For public relations majors, the opportunity to grow in the field is immense. Living in another country gives you the freedom to discover how different cultures function, view life and view us as Americans. That knowledge and understanding can provide you with endless benefits.
While abroad, you are inevitably going to be faced with challenges. From losing a passport to figuring out the train schedule (then missing it) in a different language, I was forced to overcome challenges, which increased my problem-solving skills.
Implementing these skills in a public relations setting can allow companies to thrive. Discovering a new system of how people communicate, govern and live allows us to dig deeper and understand different aspects of different cultures. These skills can be applied to innumerable aspects of public relations, such as crisis management and the ability to appeal to and connect with different publics.
In our field, communication is a key factor to success. Being able to learn and speak different languages ties you closer to the country in an incredibly intimate way. If you can utilize the skill of speaking another language, the benefits will be fruitful. Exposing yourself and learning new interpersonal skills of certain cultures can allow you to expand your overall network. Meeting new people, ordering food, being taught by different instructors from different backgrounds, social scenes, the list goes on and on. This all can help you gain a unique understanding of how to interpret a new, foreign style of communication.
Of course, there is always the enchantment of studying abroad to take into consideration. You will capture breathtaking views and live through unbelievable growing and bonding experiences. From constantly listening to the beauty of another language to seeing the Northern Lights outside of your plane window, there is so much out there for us to explore and bring back with us. We are lucky enough to be living in a time where studying abroad is at its height of accessibility for students.
So go out there, meet new people, hop on a plane and traversez l’étang!