Effects of International Education

April 27, 2009
By Margaret Gillooly BRONZE, Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania
Margaret Gillooly BRONZE, Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Remember how exciting it was to have mom pack a lunch in a brown bag, line up and take attendance on the bus rather than in the classroom, and drive away from school to the local aviary, science center, or space museum? Field trips in elementary school are an unforgettable time where young students get a chance to learn outside the classroom in a hands-on aspect. These field trips are the first baby steps to the real world. If one were going to take this same trip again as a senior high school student, the space museum would surely not be as amusing. However, the equivalent field trip for an older student may not be within country limits.

The most important time to begin this exploration is during one’s years of study. High school, college, even elementary school field trips can push a student to be all they can be. Many colleges and universities offer the wonderful opportunity to study internationally. Traveling and studying abroad not only assists a student educationally but also teaches ways to effectively adapt to ever-changing situations within a working and personal environment.

In recent times, study abroad programs have been targeted towards high school and college students. Last year 241,791 college students studied out of the country. There are a variety of ways a student may study abroad. Whether it is for just a semester, an entire college year, or a summer abroad, one is sure to experience an unforgettable and enriching education that the classroom could never offer. In high school, I often times note the stranger walking through the halls speaking a different language to a classmate who will help them understand. When someone at the lunch table asks, “hey did you see that German girl?” the puzzle finally clicks together. Exchange students are perhaps the most courageous young people. To enter a completely different world. Far away from home. To be stared at and mocked from peers just as old as they are. Yet still stand up for their country and their beliefs. That is a lesson a math teacher could never lecture.

Many people are ignorant to other cultures in this world. We tend to mock and discriminate against those who have done nothing wrong to us. Many continue to be misinformed about geography, religion, and world politics. In an educational aspect, study abroad is the experimental dose many people need. To be emerged in a culture far different from one’s own, twenty-four hours a day for weeks at a time, will teach people to be more excepting to someone who does not practice the same religion as they do. Students return from their journeys with opened eyes. Americans take for granted the freedoms they have. Cherishing and appreciating these freedoms are a necessity. Learning about other cultures and ways of life increase cultural identity and personal strength. Intellectual competence is reflected not only in a student’s academics, but also in community leadership, communication skill, and self-confidence. Believing in oneself is a dusty key to success that some people leave behind.

Many students take opportunities like study abroad for granted. They may consider the negative aspects firsthand. For example, expense of trip, national conflicts, and language barriers may be just some of the things that hold a student back from expanding their educational horizons. However, many high schools, colleges/universities, and travel agencies ensure a student’s safety and security. International study could be the most terrific way to see some of the most magnificent sights of the world. Majestic pyramids of Egypt, luxurious waterfalls of the rainforest, or the grand coral reef of Australia could be right at the backdoor. Henry Miller said, “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”

I aspire to learn as much about life and the world that surrounds me. This goal may seem somewhat overrated and unoriginal however I have learned a way to help achieve my goal. Study abroad is a certain way to integrate a new view of existence into one’s perspective. The opportunities are endless. So feel the same excitement as the second grade student waiting on the bus to go to the science museum. Learn what study abroad can offer and embark on a journey that results in a life changing views. Life is an adventure, and every opportunity to learn should be embraced.

The author's comments:
I wrote this article for a senior project. As a graduation requirement, I must complete a paper, project, portfolio and presentation. For my project I chose to research study abroad. I would like students to take this essay and consider the positive aspects of international study and maybe embark on the experience themselves.

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