If you’ve read my About page (yes I diligently update it!), you’ll know that I recently graduated. I started my first full-time job after Christmas 2016. I say full-time because I’ve been juggling different occupations throughout my growing years in a bid to self-sustain myself and my eagerness to travel, as I’ve elaborated more in How Do You Get To Travel So Much As A Student?
Standing at the crossroads, there were so many possibilities calling to me. I could do a working holiday in New Zealand, volunteer abroad, do a long-term backpacking trip, start freelancing full-time while focusing on this blog or begin working full-time.
I knew what I wanted in the long-term, I knew what would make me happy and what wouldn’t, but as with reality, it is filled with constraints. I read about how people quit their jobs to travel, or take a year off to travel upon graduation, and that’s a path I seriously considered. Except, I am a fresh graduate with a debt. As a fresh graduate, the amount of working experience I’ve had in my 23 years could take me almost nowhere far.
Let’s face it. While I have my head in the clouds, I have to also stay grounded, and make the most of my circumstances. This $43k worth of student loan from 4 years of university is not going to miraculously wash itself off, and I do have skills to hone.
So in between taking my final examinations and going for job interviews in November 2016, I realised that I was talking more about my exchange experience than I thought I would. The more I talked about it, the gladder I was that I took this opportunity to study abroad for half a year. This post would talk about my opinion on why studying abroad is beneficial for getting your first job, or even good for your own social skills.
Can you do a semester abroad even when you’re poor? Yes you can!
Are you safe venturing to a foreign country and living on your own? Yes you can be!
Is it worth it spending a ton of money to experience studying overseas? Yes it is!
Why studying abroad is beneficial for getting your first job
Employers are always looking for diversity in their team. If you show that you’ve been to this many countries and have lived there for an extended part of time, they’ll know that not only are you adaptable, you also have an understanding of different cultures and how they work. This is especially favoured if your employer has a diversified workforce.
Living abroad forces you to speak up to seek for help. It forces you to assimilate in an environment you are unsure of, and make acquaintance with people you would normally not talk to. I would never have imagined myself befriending a guy from Madagascar when I first came onboard my exchange programme in Neoma Business School. I would never have had the opportunity to live with a local in Paris had I not jumped at the chance to buy my one-way ticket to Paris. It is because of these experiences that make you a more resilient, independent individual.
While I’d once been the timid girl who’d shy away from large crowds, I now sign myself up for networking events where I know nobody. My solo experiences have given me the courage to speak up and initiate conversations. I now feel less awkward in social settings. In fact, there is nothing more joyous than turning strangers into friends over common interests.
Read: Cappadocia, Turkey
Travel is a common topic, and you’ll never go wrong sharing about your experiences. People are always travelling, and they are always open to hearing tips and advices about a destination. If you are able to provide valuable tips, that might open the doors to deeper conversations!
Wouldn’t it be a bonus if just so happens that your hiring employer is from a country you’ve been to and you’re able to share your love for his/ her hometown? That way, you’d have a common topic of interest and would be able to leave a better impression!
While on the topic of leaving an impression, it is during your travels that you get your crazy stories from. I wouldn’t have had cat poop on my bed, be left stranded outside my Couchsurfer’s home, or lived in a treehouse if it weren’t for all the travelling I’ve been. I’d even learned how glaciers are formed thanks to our expedition to Fox Glacier in New Zealand.
You’ve learned a second or third language? Flaunt it! Living abroad for an extended period of time allows you to hone a language that you are unfamiliar with. I’ve met countless of travellers studying abroad to hone their Spanish/ German/ French language, and not one of them tell me it’s not beneficial!
From all the travellers who’ve studied abroad for at least one semester, their biggest takeaway is gaining international friends, and I cannot agree more. These friends bring with them a wealth of different kinds of fun and information, slangs and taboos. That is the perk of befriending a local!
Being exposed to different living cultures and learning about the different outlook on life allows you to step back and away from societal norms and pressures. This period of time off from real-world obligations gives you a chance to question your real living purpose – what are you happy with? What do you want to gain from life? What will you want to be 20 years from now?
I wouldn’t say that I got my first job because of my fervent love for travel, but my employer did enjoy listening to my stories, and it was through a travel networking event that I came to know about this company. They are fully aware of my involvement and commitment to this blog, and they respect it, which I am very thankful for. Best part is, with majority of the employees from Spain, I’m beginning to learn a thing or two about the Spanish culture and language!
So now that you know I’m all for doing an overseas exchange while you’re still a student, do you need more convincing?
Have you been stuck in a crossroads? How did you decide between travelling and fulfilling your responsibilities?