Right now, as I type, I am sitting on the other side of the world. That’s right; I am coming to you right in the middle of a month long internship program in Barcelona, Spain. I am here to tell you, as a previously shy and not-so-independent girl from a small country town in South Australia, that anybody can do this. Sure, the idea of travelling to the other side of the world, by yourself, is incredibly terrifying, but it will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, and here’s why.
The opportunity to live in another country
Don’t underestimate the impact of cultural experience. I am currently living with a Spanish host family, and I have no regrets. Living with a family who speaks a different language, eats different food and shares different beliefs, is an experience all in itself. It’s a great way to really immerse yourself in the culture, whilst learning all about the country and getting to try all the local food. It really is just like having a family support system, which can be incredibly comforting when you’re away from home for a long period of time.
However, if you don’t choose the homestay option there are still so many ways that you can experience the culture. Just a trip down to the local supermarket, is enough to see the cultural differences. Don’t be afraid to study in non-English speaking countries, although it does seem daunting, you’ll find that a lot of locals can speak at least small amounts of English. You start to pick up the essential phrases along the way – plus if you really get stuck, Google Translate is a lifesaver!
It’s great for your career
Working or studying abroad can provide you with all kinds of connections in your field of choice, whilst also looking great on your resume! If you choose to do an overseas internship – like myself – you’ll have the opportunity to work for a company overseas, and learn from a huge range of professionals in that area. When looking for jobs in the future, an internship in another country, or a degree from an overseas institution, will help you to stand out from the crowd.
Studying abroad provides you with all kinds of skills that can only benefit your career. For those who struggle with independence, this is the perfect opportunity to break out of that bubble. Travelling alone is a skill in itself as you have to be able to trust yourself to make safe and smart decisions. Studying overseas also gives you the ability to adapt to different surroundings, which will come in handy in the future when making big career changes.
Endless amounts of sightseeing opportunities
You won’t have to spend all of your time working or studying, so there are so many opportunities to see and do everything that a country has to offer. If you are one of those people who just loves being a tourist, this is perfect for you. There is so much time to just explore and see all of the main attractions. A longer stay in a particular country, also gives you the opportunity discover all of the cool stuff that tourists don’t usually get the time to see (and locals don’t want you to find out about). You can find quirky restaurants and cafés, vintage shopping, rustic bars – you name it. You’ll be calling yourself a local in no time!
There are also opportunities to explore other surrounding countries. You will definitely have free weekends and holiday periods, so why not travel around why you’re here? In European countries this is particularly easy, as nearby countries are only a short flight away.
Studying or working abroad can be tough and it does involve a lot of work and planning, but it’s definitely worth it. With all of these amazing opportunities knocking at your door, now is the time to take advantage of everything the world has to offer.
Words by Ashleigh Chapman