I studied overseas for one semester in my third year, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity. I feel like the experience benefitted me in multiple ways, so I wanted to reflect on what I think were some of the bigger positive outcomes.

I’ll note before I start that studying overseas isn’t accessible to everybody for a number of reasons. One obvious reason is financial. I was really lucky to have very generous support from my university to make it happen, but this isn’t always the case. Beyond that, there are numerous reasons overseas study might not be practical or possible for very many students, and I think it’s worth taking a moment to note that before adopting an “everybody should do it!” lens.

With that said, here are some of the reasons I found overseas study advantageous.


Studying abroad got me out of my comfort zone

It’s easy to speak about the benefits of overseas study without considering the challenges (and there were many, to be honest). One of the biggest challenges for me came before I even left; I was really unsure and quite concerned about what the whole experience would be like. There are obviously different factors to contend with overseas, and it was also my first time living out of home. In general, there were just a lot of uncertainties.

"One of the biggest challenges for me came before I even left..."

You can prepare as much as you like, but at the end of the day, it’s just one of those things where you won’t really know what it’s like until you actually do it. That makes it tough in some ways, but you could also view it as something exciting - new possibilities, new opportunities, new experiences.

In hindsight (and it’s much easier saying this in hindsight), I’m really glad I was exposed to challenges of meeting new people, working and studying in a different environment, and living in a different culture. The experience really pushed me out of my comfort zone, which was tricky to deal with at times in the short-term, and really beneficial for me in the long-term.


Studying abroad improved my confidence

One of the major benefits of being pushed out of my comfort zone was that it ultimately improved my confidence, and I also felt a greater level of resilience. It was satisfying getting to the end of the semester, getting home, and reflecting on the fact that nobody can ever take that experience away from me.

Living overseas meant I had to do things I wasn’t used to doing, and work out things that were completely new to me. I had a lot of support in this, both from fellow exchange students and the institution, but it still proved difficult at times. Overcoming those difficulties really gave me a sense of being able to achieve things I set my mind to, even if they seemed scary or overwhelming at first. I think I’ve relied on those feelings since in both study and work domains.

"Overcoming those difficulties really gave me a sense of being able to achieve things I set my mind to..."


Studying abroad helped me meet new people

To be perfectly honest, I don’t love meeting new people at the best of times, but studying abroad sort of necessitated it. That’s something I was concerned about, but for the most part, people were really friendly and understanding. There were a lot of people in a similar position, coming from various countries, and that made it easier for me.

I didn’t really go out of my way to be social, but I still made friends from around the world who I genuinely think will be life-long friends, and that’s a massive win.


Studying abroad made travelling a little easier

Australia, as the only island continent, can be a difficult point of origin if you’re looking to travel through other countries. The cool thing about being based elsewhere for a while is that you’ll probably find pockets of time to travel whilst studying, or you might be able to tack on time before or after to do the same.

My experience was that travelling to nearby places was pretty comfortable through uni breaks, and most people seemed to take advantage of the opportunity either before or after the semester, too. If you have the means to do so, it’s a great chance to see some other places without needing to get the lengthy flight from Australia!


Studying abroad exposed me to a different culture

By nature of living in a different country for an extended period, you get exposed to different cultures, practices, and expectations. These are really cool experiences that can’t really be replicated; travelling through a place is great, but I feel like actually living there gives you a different perspective on things.

"... you get exposed to different cultures, practices, and expectations."

You might find that your views change as a result, or that you have a changed outlook on different parts of your life back home. Either way, the international experience really can do wonders for developing an understanding of global similarities and differences.


Studying abroad was useful for work opportunities

I’ve spoken about studying abroad in more than one job interview. It’s a really easy way to demonstrate a willingness to try new things, and you can use it to make an example of almost anything. When have you shown initiative? Link it to studying abroad. When have you overcome challenges? Link it to studying abroad. These experiences can be useful not just at the time, but long into the future.


If you have the means and are keen, I really encourage you to give studying abroad a go!