St. Augustine once said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Today many college students have an interest in studying and interning abroad, but they don’t know the full range of benefits that come with an international experience.
“There is no better time to travel than when you’re a young college student,” Donna Lane-Baur, Ramapo’s International Programs Advisor said. “You can sleep in hostels, eat street food, change your plans on a whim and create some of the best memories of your life.”
Students studying abroad have the ability to not only learn in a new environment, immersed in the culture where their studies originated, but also take unique classes that may not be found on campus. The Roukema Center for International Education currently offers a variety of programs, including business in China and Peru, history in Cuba and public health in Ghana.
Many study abroad programs also offer the opportunity to participate in an internship. Students have found that interning abroad has better prepared them for the workforce after graduation. They learn how to conduct business in a different country, develop their cross-cultural communication skills and adapt to the values of other cultures. When interviewers see international experience on a resume, it can speak volumes about the character of a job candidate.
“It can help you land your dream job faster. For example, emerging Latin American countries have excellent start-up tech scenes that are not as competitive as in San Francisco. Even if you don’t plan on taking a job overseas after graduation, working abroad will teach you invaluable job skills,” Lane-Baur said.
Another benefit to going abroad is that students can gain a new perspective on the world. What occurs outside the classroom – conversations with locals, museum visits, history lessons from cab drivers – can give students a wide range of knowledge about their host country that will vary greatly from the culture they grew up in. A byproduct of this experience is that new personal interests can be discovered in art, culture and sports, to name a few.
“Students return home with a more critical eye and a broader perspective. And each experience abroad makes you more independent, resourceful and confident – all of which is highly important for academic, professional and personal growth,” Lane-Baur said.
In addition, studying or working abroad gives students the chance to learn a new language, meet new friends and, of course, see the world. Most international programs include a long mid-semester break, like Ramapo’s Alternative Spring Break, which encourages students to travel. With regard to cost, the college currently offers financial aid, scholarship opportunities and many other alternative ways of raising funds to help facilitate the study abroad process.
“For more information, students can contact the Roukema Center in ASB-123 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org,” Lane-Baur said.