Top 10 Reasons to Study Abroad in the United States
Just go, go and see how wonderful the world is
As human beings are racing towards conquering the space and the term “global citizen” becomes the hottest trend, studying abroad is not only easier to do than ever before but also an essential part of a comprehensive education. After graduating from high school, I was offered an opportunity to pursue my further education in the United States, and it was the journey that completely changed my life. When I decided to return to my hometown after completing my Master’s Degree, I knew that I came back as a new person, seeing my old hometown with new eyes, having known the richness of growing and loving people in more than one place. So here are the reasons why my studying in the United States has been beneficial to my personal growth and future potentials.
Best learning environment
It is no coincidence that the United States is the most popular studying abroad destination among international students. Glancing at any university ranking website, it is easy to see that the top positions are occupied by American universities. Combining with the freedom of expression, strict intellectual protection, transparent evaluation system and student inclusion in school governance, the United States certainly has the best learning environment. In addition to modern teaching equipment and the easy availability of research resources and materials, at an American university, you can always talk and share your ideas with professors who are the leading experts in their field or your fellow college friends who are highly competent and share the same ambitions and ideas like yours. When being surrounded by a purely academic environment, you can apply yourself to your study and advance quickly in your pursuit of knowledge.
See new wonderful horizons with your own eyes
This world is beautiful, brimming with fairy tales and opportunities; you probably heard people say something like that for a million times. However, not until when you really see this world with your own eyes that you truly understand how profound those words are. I had seen pictures and heard tales about the splendid Grand Canyon, the picturesque Miami beaches, the crowded streets of New York that never sleeps, the lonely but peaceful highways taking me to new adventures… Nevertheless, when I was actually there, I was still overwhelmed with a great sense of achievement, a feeling of being fully alive, and a longing for finding the missing pieces that would fulfill me. Travelling to new destinations was not always a comfortable experience, especially when on a student budget; nonetheless, with careful plan and a little spontaneity, it could always be a meaningful event that transforms you, leaving marks on your body, on your heart, and on your perception of the world.
Abundant extra-curriculum activities
As for American students, there are more in life than just books and lecture halls. Since the first days of the orientation week, the university was already packed with fraternity and sorority representatives, sport clubs and other clubs coming to recruit new members for their organizations. Throughout the school year, the school and student-governed organizations held plentiful events for students to join in the field of sports, music, art, charity, politics, and economics and so on. The professors also encourage their students to take part in some specific extra-curriculum activities by giving them extra credits should they attend those events. As a freshman, I volunteered to go on a trip organized by Habitat for Humanity to help build houses for needy people in another state. During the trip, not only could I make new friends and do something meaningful together, but I also had a chance to travel to new places for almost free.
Acquire useful skills for your future career
Studying abroad does not just simply look impressive on your resume, you can actually also learn many skills that are critical to your professional developments, increasing competency and future career potential. First of all, mastering a new language while living in a country where it is spoken will give you an edge over other candidates when applying for the same position. As for me, I had learnt English since I was in elementary school and was considered one of the top students in my class. However, I felt like that during my first year in the U.S, my English skills were enhanced more quickly than ever before because I lived with it every minute of the day. In addition, as you live in a foreign country, you will gain valuable multi-cultural understanding skills and experiences that allow you to work with people from different cultures. In today’s interconnected world, globally-minded employees are highly desired.
Gain an insightful understanding of the country’s politics, economy and culture
Although American is one of the most powerful countries in the world, extending its influence to the farthest corner on Earth, there is no better way to learn the core of its political, economic and cultural system than by living in America. During my study in the United States from 2006 to 2012, I personally witnessed the Great Recession which officially started at the end of 2007 with the housing bubble burst. Though it was one of the darkest times for Americans with falling income, rising unemployment and poverty, it provided economic students, like me, and researchers with an exclusive opportunity to study a unique economic event, literally enriching the volumes of economic literature and allowing economists to bring up and test various hypotheses and theories. I also observed the Presidential Election in 2008 from its beginning until its end and the heated debates about it to understand how elections worked in the U.S and how the whole country was involved in the big national occasion.
Spread your own culture to the world
One important thing I learn from my experiences in the United States is that going to another country also means a chance to promote and spread my own culture and values to the world. There are various opportunities to do so in America, ranging from participating in numerous international student clubs, holding seasonal international festivals celebrating cultures from around the world to just simply being friends with Americans who are surprisingly friendly and genuinely interested in learning about the world. Through conversations with friends, presentations in class, and interaction with people in general, you can represent your own culture, introduce and foster your values and help to resolve many cultural myths.
Push personal limits
When you live within your comfort zone, in your familiar town with your favorite people, there is little chance for you to find out how strong you are and what sort of extra-ordinariness that you can accomplish. As for me, during my time studying and living in the United States, I did things that I never imagined I would, and I learnt so much more from the times I stepped outside my comfort zones than any other time. Living in a foreign country constantly exposed you to risks and challenges, pushing you to perform at your peak and eventually enabling you to mature. In the United States, I learnt to be at peace with myself when feeling lonely, making friends with people speaking different languages and races,embracing diversity and differences, and standing up on my own after falling.
Challenge your previous perspectives
At the beginning, I worked hard to integrate into the new society, understanding other people’s thoughts and feelings, and creating a new identity for my own self. I let go a part of me to welcome the new culture, establish new habits and learn to appreciate the way Americans think and act, the qualities that make American the most powerful country in the world. Once I was accustomed to the new way of living, grew up and gained more knowledge from my own studying and researching, I could look back at my own culture more critically. I recognized the values of the things I used to take for granted such as Vietnamese closely-connected family relationships, the complication beauty of our own language, the importance of food or why we eat some certain types of food that are deemed inedible in other cultures, the relaxing nap time at noon, and so on. By being immersed in another culture, I got the idea of which parts of my own tradition are worth keeping and passing over.
See kindness everywhere
When reading breaking news or watching brutal Hollywood action movie, you might have the idea that the world is full of violence and danger. In fact, the world I saw in real life, especially on college campus was quite the opposite. My college was located in a small town with a population of less than 100,000, and it was such as peaceful and serene town where you could hear the bird singing all day long, watch the stunning sunset while walking home from class, smell the gentle fragrance of cherry blossom in spring, or enjoy a hot cup of coffee in a snowy day. More than that, American people and other international friends also always showed me great kindness and were always eager to be my friends, open their doors to invite me to their home and provide support. I have made lifelong friends and various precious encounters during my time there.
Studying abroad is a valuable chance for you to not only explore the world for yourself but also to grow up and become a better person, well-prepared for your future career. So grab your chance if you can and just go!