Last year I took a leap of faith and decided to study abroad for autumn semester of my final year. I chose to study at The University of Hong Kong (HKU) and I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
So here are my five reasons why you should do the same.
1. Step out of your comfort zone
You should always push yourself outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to try new things. Sometimes it isn’t the easiest thing to do but in the end it is definitely worth it. Studying abroad allows you to immerse yourself in a completely different culture and enables you to learn and try new things first hand.
2. Study from a new perspective
My time at HKU allowed me to learn in a new way that I might not have had the chance to do. I found myself debating on women rights, learning about Western and Asian Art, exploring local art exhibitions and talking to curators all as part of my degree.
The beauty of studying abroad is that it gives you the chance to learn new things in a different way. I have had an insight into the world of Asian Art and was able to learn about it alongside Western Art history, which is something I would not have got the chance to do back home.
3. Meet new people
I arrived in Hong Kong not knowing a single person…5 months later as I sit here writing this post I can happily say I made some of the best friendships. Studying abroad has given me not just the opportunity to meet local people and learn new things but also the chance to meet other exchange students from across the globe and learn about their cultures.
A tendency for many students when they go abroad is to stick to what they know and make friends with similar backgrounds. My advice would be that when you study abroad or travel in general don’t just meet people from your home country but push yourself to meet new people from other countries.
4. Learn a new language
Okay so despite my efforts at a ‘Survival Cantonese Course’ my knowledge of Cantonese and Mandarin is restricted to some very basic phrases, if that. Depending on which country you are studying in, studying abroad gives you the opportunity to learn a new language and practise your fluency with the locals. So if you can’t take a class as part of your degree enrol in classes outside of university.
In addition to all the different things to visit on weekends in Hong Kong, I managed to visit Beijing and The Philippines with friends from HKU. Even after my studies had finished, I used my free month and a half to travel to Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam before heading back to Nottingham to finish my degree.
The benefits of travelling are vast but the ability to do it alongside studying is even more beneficial. It teaches you to balance and use your time effectively but also gives you something to look forward to and focus on.