In our rapidly globalizing world, student mobility is a very popular aspect of higher education. Just as a global mind-set and ability to adapt to diverse cultures are highly praised in modern businesses, especially for management positions, students learn to interact with people from various cultural backgrounds and get rid of their earlier prejudices (). Keeping this in mind, many schools include international experience for their students into their curriculums (Orahood, Woolf, & Kruze, 2008).
Indeed, it has been found that “key jobs skills such as adaptability, global understanding and tolerance, leadership and independence are directly fostered by learning and living abroad.” This helps graduates find jobs sooner and at much higher salaries (Cook-Anderson, 2012). THESIS STATEMENT: The greatest benefit of my experience of studying abroad is learning to be open to other cultures due to increased intercultural contact, skills of communicating with representatives of various cultures due to better knowledge of other cultures, and successful learning the language of a host country.
Unlike my home country, the United States is a multicultural society, living in which suggests lots of intercultural contact and learning to be open to others. This makes a big difference for students who are less culturally diverse or less open societies with strong traditional values. In this way, studying in Western school helps such students overcome prejudice against other cultures and different lifestyles. What is more, international students learn many positive things about these cultures and may absorb them. Their mindset changes so that to make them feel good about intercultural communication and to learn to be open to various cultures while also remembering about their own tradition. For example, when I first came to the United States, I had already developed a system of stereotypes about the country. Those stereotypes led to bias against certain things in society. However, as soon as I saw that many of my bias were unfounded, it realized it is better to focus on the good things that I can take from any culture and from the U.S. Reality.
Next, studying abroad helps gain knowledge about the culture of the country you study in and other countries that students visit. Being effective at intercultural communication is not only about openness to people from other countries or cultures, but also about knowing their customs and being able to act appropriately. In my case, I gained lots of knowledge about the Anglo-American ways in the United States, as well as about other cultures from my international friends. For example, it came as a big surprise to know that Americans prefer to use first names in communication even with elder people; that they smile so often, even to strangers; that they like to communicate and find silence disturbing; that they do not like to stand too close when communicating with others; and, finally, that they are high addicted to their “Blackberries” and use them even when they get together for an informal dinner. Also, I learnt about the favorite topics in conversation between U.S. friends, such as, for example, baseball or some TV series. This has helped me become a more effective communicator and enable to participate in many discussions.
Finally, studying abroad brings the benefit of learning a new language, the one that students use as their working language when studying. If a student comes to study in the United States, he or she will surely greatly improve their English. Needless to say, this is very important, especially for those who come from Arabic or Asian countries, where language systems are absolutely different and may seem very difficult to master. In my case, studying in the United States has resulted in improvement of my English in all its aspects. In particular, I have improved my pronunciation, learnt to speak fluently and confidently, and learnt many new words. Also, I have developed my listening skills, so that I understand most things that I hear. Besides, I have developed my writing and reading skills owing to classes. With the English retaining its high status of the world’s key language, these language skills are of great importance for me whatever my future occupation is going to be.
Overall, intercultural contact has made a great difference for me with regard to studying abroad. It has made me more open to other cultures, given me knowledge of othe4 cultures, and facilitated my English language skills.