Last year the Erasmus programme revealed that a record number of UK students had chosen to study or work abroad in Europe and that UK students undertook 13,668 periods of study or work placements which is the highest number since the programme was launched way back in 1987. It seems that nowadays as a young person most of your friends have travelled round half of the world and a lucky handful of them will have completed a year in industry abroad or been schooled in the Australian outback.
A few years back in 2010 the Department for Business Innovation & Skill at The University of Dundee put together an entire research paper detailing ‘The Motivations and Experiences of UK Students Studying Abroad’. The research showed that a number of students chose to study and work abroad because they believed that it would give them the opportunity to build contacts there and eventually to move and live there once they had completed their studies.
Testing the water
By choosing to study or work abroad in another country you can gain all kinds of skills. Students looking to spend year learning at another college or university will find that it is a great opportunity to immerse themselves in a new culture and learn all manner of things besides what they are studying. It is also a chance to build valuable social and interpersonal skills such as communication, outgoingness, confidence and networking. More importantly it will open your mind to new possibilities and leave you open to knowing you could live in another country if you wanted to.
Learning a foreign language
It is really important that if you think that one day you may want to move to a different country on a permanent basis that you make the most of studying abroad
. One benefit many students look to gain is experience in speaking a foreign language. It may feel like one thing learning in the classroom but another putting it into practice in everyday life. By immersing yourself in another culture entirely it offers you the best possible opportunity to practice speaking to locals in their mother tongue. All over the world new comers to a society are praised and thought highly of when it is apparent that they have made a great deal of effort to be able to understand what is being said to them, being polite and attempt to carry a conversation successfully. Many who have made an effort to become fluent in a language can look more employable to potential employers.
Whilst working abroad, one way students have managed to network successfully is to be as out-going as possible by saying yes to attending extra-curricular events. Attending work related events outside of work means that you will have a chance to get to know colleagues and clients better. It also shows genuine interest and enthusiasm. If you are studying abroad, the same applies with making friends.
Being away from home for long periods of time can make you miss friends, family and your possessions. These feelings are normally short-lived and you find a way to get through it but one thing that can help is considering moving a few of your favourite things to where you’re staying abroad. Most international moving companies
offer overseas removal country guides, letting you know the rules and regulations because you do anything. You might even want to ask your family to send you food parcels from time to time with some of your favourite things in whether it’s your favourite flavour of walker’s crisps or a huge jar of peanut butter; these small things will help you feel more comfortable.
Making a variety of friends is another good way of networking, it also can be great if you decide to travel back again and you need somewhere to stay at short notice, especially if you are required to return for job interviews. Having friends that are native to the country you are doing your placement in means that you can always get advice on living matters such as finding cheap areas to live in or opening a bank account and so on.
Understanding industries abroad
Those who have spent a year working abroad in a particular industry that has seen a lot of growth gain quality experience that you wouldn’t be able to get at home. For example, those looking to work in the technology industry choose to work in countries where the industry is booming such as Japan or America. By finding a niche in a sector and working in the country that is spearheading the growth you will be an attractive prospect for companies in other countries looking to become a competitor. It is unique experience that is valuable to potential employers with clients from the same country in which you have worked.
Staying in contact
Nowadays it is easier than ever to keep in touch with people you meet over your travels, work and study experiences thanks to Social Networks such as Twitter, Facebook and more importantly LinkedIn. By staying in touch, you will be able to see when potential job opportunities arise later down the line after you have graduated or when organisations are ready to hire again. Just because you weren’t offered a position straight away doesn’t mean that the company wouldn’t like you to try and apply again in the future. Persistence often pays off and there’s always no harm in asking – if you don’t ask, you don’t get as the saying goes.
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