Studying abroad to discover the world
Studying abroad is an incredible opportunity for those who are curious about the world and eager to expand their horizons. For many students, the allure of international studies comes from the chance to explore new cultures, meet people from all over the world, and gain valuable life experiences that can shape their future.
Alina, a recent graduate of Webster University’s Leiden campus, shared her own reasons for wanting to study internationally. “I was always a traveler at heart. I wanted to go out and explore the world. What really motivated me to study at Webster was the study abroad locations I saw.” (00:06)
Alongside the excitement of living and learning in a new country, international education offers vital lessons to prepare you for a successful career. For example, learning a foreign language gives you a deeper understanding of international markets. That knowledge will be useful if you want to launch a global business.
At the same time, making personal and professional ties in your new home will let you build an international network.
International opportunities to look out for
There are three main international study opportunities:
- Campus transfers,
- International exchanges, and
- Dual degree programs.
An easy way to take advantage of a study abroad experience is to find a university with global locations. Transferring between campuses, rather than changing institutions, involves far less red tape. You also have the confidence of receiving the same level of education.
Webster University’s global presence was one of the leading reasons behind Alina’s decision to study there. “Webster was in Thailand, Webster was in Leiden, in the USA. You know, think of a country and Webster’s already there.” (00:14)
Smaller universities may not have entire campuses in countries around the world, but they still offer excellent international opportunities. Many institutions have international partners providing easy transfers, while others support international exchanges as part of their courses.
Another option that is increasing in popularity is dual degree programs. More academically intensive than other study abroad options, these programs combine two degrees from two different universities. It might be twice as much work, but it provides a fully immersive experience in both locations.
Gaining professional skills and personal growth
While international studies can broaden your academic horizons, the wider cultural experience is perhaps the most impactful benefit.
For many students, studying abroad is their first time living independently outside of their comfort zone. That can be a challenging and transformative experience.
Living in a new country and immersing yourself in a different culture can help develop a range of transferable skills, such as adaptability, independence, and cross-cultural communication. These soft skills are highly sought-after by employers, making studying abroad a valuable asset in today’s job market.
Additionally, studying abroad is fantastic for expanding your network and making connections that can lead to future career opportunities. Whether it’s through volunteer work, networking events, or daily life, students have the chance to meet people. During your time as a student, you can build relationships that can last a lifetime.
But for Alina, it was the work experience opportunities that really took her studies to the next level. “Being at Webster, I didn’t only do one internship but four internships”, she says. “And I would say that was the most valuable experience that I took out of Webster.” (01:18)
Her internship roles spanned being a junior media buyer in Bangkok, media communication for sports, experience in a fintech company, then digital marketing. International internships provide the obvious benefits of language skills, in-company experience, and working alongside colleagues from different cultures. They also give students a chance to practice adaptability, and awareness of international job markets.
From studying abroad to launching a career and starting a business
Alina’s international experience, and the adaptability gained through her studies, allowed her to focus her skills to a brand new area after graduating. “Today I am working as a trade and investment officer at the embassy of Sri Lanka, and it’s all thanks to my experiences at Webster.” (01:56)
Additionally, Alina has capitalized on the lessons learned both inside and outside of the classroom to launch her own venture.
“During my time at Webster, and taking a lot of entrepreneurial classes, I’ve also discovered the entrepreneur in me. Next to my role at the embassy, I also started my own startup last year and we are providing cleaning and general services to expats.” (02:03)
Whichever career trajectory Alina decides to focus on in the future, the main takeaway is that she is prepared. Thanks to her global perspective and valuable connections which are unique to professionals with international experience.
Choosing your gateway to new opportunities
When choosing where to study for a master, it goes without saying that the course quality and institutional prestige are key factors. But as Alina attests, it’s crucial to look at the wider context of where you study. “Leiden is a perfect study abroad destination. Leiden is a place full of opportunities. I launched my career in Leiden. I launched my own company. The quality of life it offers is phenomenal. It’s so safe.” (02:18)
Even in our interconnected world, there is no replacement for being physically in a hotspot for your industry. If you’re pursuing a career in international relations, for example, Geneva is home to around 40 international organizations. If luxury goods are more your passion, Paris is where you’ll find the biggest events for your industry.
The benefits of studying abroad are hardly a secret. From understanding what makes different cultures and business practices tick to gaining the skills and confidence to take on your own ventures abroad, it’s no surprise international opportunities are so popular.
If you’d like to find out more about international opportunities at Leiden, you can speak directly to alumni from all over the world through the MASTERGRADSCHOOLS Ambassador page.