Taking classes in another country is about more than having a working vacation. Here’s why more than 300,000 U.S. students choose to take courses in another country each year: 

1. Boosts confidence and maturity

Research from The Institute for the International Education of Students (IES) surveyed its alumni over the course of 49 years. Ninety-seven percent of those polled said their time in a foreign country was a catalyst for increasing their maturity level and 95 percent spoke of the self-confidence they gained from their travel. Those who attend school on foreign soil show improvement in five core personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and emotional stability. 

2. Hone language skills

Although the United Kingdom is the most popular destination, most likely because there are no language barriers, countries including China and Greece are gaining traction. Immersion in your host country has been found to dramatically improve your use of the language. 

3. See the world through a new lens

Ninety-five percent of those polled by IES said studying abroad made a lasting impact on their worldview and 82 percent replied their time spent away contributed to developing a more sophisticated way of looking at the world. Many students take advantage of easy travel, especially in Europe, to see multiple countries and experience a variety of sights.

4. Master your major

Other countries are great places to learn from the experts in STEM and business — two of the most popular foreign study majors.

5. Meet lifelong friends

A semester away can build new relationships. Alumni reported building long-lasting friendships with not only other U.S. students but also with host families and other new friends in their host country.

6. Develop leadership skills

Learning to be respectful of other cultures and different political and economic systems is linked to formulating strong leadership abilities. Immersion in a different culture is the best way to expand your horizons.

7. Don’t have time for a full semester? There are options

The longer stay the better, but even a six-week program has been proven to provide monumental benefits. Many programs offer summer and winter break options for those looking for a shorter stay.

8. Increased earnings potential

Studying abroad can be a good investment. Students who study abroad earn 17 percent more than their peers in their starting salaries. Also, 90 percent of study abroad alumni who applied got into their first or second choice graduate school.

9. Internship opportunities

More and more universities are building internship options into study abroad curriculum. Those who complete internships in other lands say the experience helps them decide if they are on the right career path. 

10. It will (seriously) change your life

The IES report found that many of those queried said their time abroad was a defining moment that impacted for the rest of their lives. It’s safe to say that studying abroad is unique opportunity for students to develop their education and their selves.