Updated September 10, 2022

The Impacts of Studying Abroad

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The Impacts of Studying Abroad essay
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There is a great number of students whom wish to study abroad because it bears many benefits, but many students are unable to experience this because of the financial costs. Studying abroad can lead to a better understanding of one’s on culture as well as other cultures, a greater appreciation for cultural differences, the development or improvement of life skills, a change in how one views one’s self, and an upper hand in the job market.

All of the research focuses on post-secondary students studying abroad. Half of my sources used the method of surveying the students and getting their perspective on the benefits of the experience of studying abroad. The rest of my sources focus on the financial aspects and compared tuitions from universities worldwide.

My research question was: “does the benefits of studying abroad outweigh the financial costs?” The common benefits I found throughout the research were intercultural and personal development. On the other hand, the major deterrent for students is the financial costs. The synthesis of the research breaks down into three categories:

  1. Intercultural Development,
  2. Personal Development, and
  3. Financial Complications.

Intercultural development refers to one’s understanding of different cultures and their differences. In this specific case, those different cultures would be their native culture, and their host culture.

Personal development refers to “activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations.”(Definitions.net, n.d.)

In the case of this paper, those activities would be improving identity, developing life skills, and improving employability. In conclusion, this paper will highlight the two major benefits of studying abroad, as well as, the major deterrent.

Intercultural Development

Dr. Milton Bennett created the developmental model of intercultural sensitivity (DMIS), which explains peoples’ reactions to cultural differences through 6 stages – denial, defense, minimization, acceptance, adaptation, and integration – that range from ethnocentric to highly ethnorelative. Each stage describes a cognitive structure that is communicated through attitudes and behaviors (Bennett, 2011).

Research has shown that students take on a critical view of their native culture after studying abroad, and often take on the host countries views of their native culture. These views are supported by the DMIS stage of denial, where individuals consider their host culture as superior to their native culture, while criticizing their own culture.

Students became aware of how other countries view and stereotype their native cultures. For example, American students learned that America is stereotyped as being ‘rich’, ‘spoiled’, ‘arrogant’, and ‘superior’, ‘uncaring’ and ‘selfish’ (Maharaja, 2018). Research showed that students who studied in countries like Australia and England, developed a more critical vie

w of their native culture, whereas students who studied in countries like Spain, Mexico and Argentina, became more appreciative of their native culture (Maharaja, 2018). The study abroad experience also changed students’ views of their host cultures. Many American students found that people of the host culture were much more ‘easy going’, ‘relaxed’, ‘friendlier’, ‘happy-go-lucky’, ‘nicer’, ‘laid-back’, ‘affectionate’ and ‘simpler’ (Maharaja, 2018).

They also noted that that their host cultures were more family-oriented, whereas their native culture was more consumerist. This change in their views of their host cultures is indicative of a move from an ethnocentric stage of minimization to an ethnorelative stage of acceptance and adaptation. For example, students who studied abroad in Ireland expressed how their preconceived views of Irish people changed from originally casting them as being all ‘red headed’ and ‘individualistic’ to being ‘diverse’ and ‘far from individualistic’ (Maharaja, 2018).

Many students reported gaining a better appreciation of, a greater respect for and acceptance of cultural differences, which shows an increase in intercultural sensitivity and a move from a stage of minimization to that of acceptance. Students demonstrated an interest in engaging in conversation with people of the host culture, learning about different ways of life, and understanding a new perspective.

Students also developed empathy by challenging their beliefs and putting themselves in the shoes of their host. Students found that although people from different cultures have unique customs, values, rituals and communication styles, all people share common traits. Overall, students pointed out that this experience improved their empathy; gave them greater respect for the host culture; made them more open-minded; changed their world view; and made them more appreciative of their native cultures.

Personal Development

Many students noted that they gained an increased sense of independence, maturity, flexibility, perseverance, patience, adaptability, assertiveness, confidence and global-mindedness, as well as, gave them a higher sense of one’s self (Maharaja, 2018).

The Cross-Cultural Adaptability Inventory (CCIA) tests emotional resilience (measure the degree to which an individual can rebound from and react positively to new experiences), flexibility/openness (measure the extent to which a person enjoys the different ways of thinking and behaving that are typically encountered in the cross-cultural experience), perceptual acuity (assesses the extent to which a person pays attention to and accurately perceives various aspects of the environment), and personal autonomy (measure the extent to which an individual has evolved a personal system of values and beliefs while at the same time respects others and their value systems) (Jones, n.d.).

The CCAI supports the findings of personal growth within students who have studied abroad.

According to a study done by Maharaja, out of 150 students who studied abroad, 65% reported feeling a greater sense of independence, 58% reported gaining a higher level of self-confidence, 72% reported becoming more open-minded, and 62% reported learning how to adapt to a different culture (Maharaja, 2018).

Many of the students associated independence with being able to do things for themselves, such as managing their finances, making their own choices, organizing transportation, and traveling alone. They also claimed that being in an environment where they were surrounded by a language they were not fluent in, gave them a stronger motivation and sense of confidence. Students learned adaptability through dealing with uncertainties, culture shock, discomforts, and personal anxieties.

They also learned how to live in foreign surroundings, to be comfortable standing out in a group, and to communicate in a different language. Students also have reported learning new things about themselves. Some other benefits that have been outlined throughout research are: (a) disposition to critical thinking; (b) support networks; (c) deeper self-awareness; (d) increased academic commitment; (e) increased intercultural development; (f) improved career development; (g) improved communication skills; and (h) deeper global and international competence (Maharaja, 2018).

Upon return, many students were more appreciative of advantages and opportunities at home; more aware of cultural and international issues; and seeked further intercultural experiences both at home and away. Further, studying abroad has been linked to improved academic achievement, and higher levels of employability. For example, students participating in Erasmus, the European Union’s long running student-mobility program, have a 23-per-cent lower rate of unemployment than other youth (Chiose, 2016).

Despite this, when asked their motivations for wanting to study abroad, most students didn’t consider either of those when making their decision. According to Trower’s research, rather than being instrumentally motivated, many students were motivated by the potential of personal growth, the chance to escape their everyday lives, the chance to see somewhere new, the opportunity to challenge themselves to gain independence and the chance to have new cultural experiences (Trower, 2017). They also claimed to be motivated by fun, excitement and delaying entry into adulthood. Thus showing that for most students, the primary motivation for studying abroad is personal growth and adventure, not academics or employability. In contrast, many students feared that studying abroad may have a negative affect on their academics. They also worried that a degree from a foreign country may not be universally accepted.

Financial Complications

Although the majority of students wish to participate in study abroad programs, not all can afford it. It can cost the average international student a couple hundred thousand dollars to study abroad. A CBIE survey of more than 7,000 students found that 86% would like to study abroad, but an almost equal number do not have the money to do so (Chiose, 2017).

An extensive study showed that in 2015, only slightly more than 2% of Canadian students took courses or did research abroad (Chiose, 2017). Looking at the average costs of studying abroad, the prospects of such can seem daunting. But do not despair just yet. Many countries have been working to find ways to make study abroad opportunities more affordable. For example, Australia, the United States and Britain have increased funding for study-abroad programs and are also working to make it possible for lower-income students to participate (Chiose, 2017).

Canada has created the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship, which funds 1,500 Commonwealth students (Chiose, 2017). Australia invests $100 million into it’s New Colombo Plan, which funds scholarships for students studying in the Indo-Pacific region (Chiose, 2017). In the USA, former President Barack Obama has been personally involved in the efforts to send more Americans abroad (Chiose, 2017).

The best models for study abroad efforts though would be Australia and Britain. In these countries, students can work abroad as part of their education program, and the planning for studying abroad starts as early as high school.

Universities Australia hosts high-school fairs and posts on social media to get young students to start thinking ahead (Chiose, 2017). They also have increased it’s student-aid program for lower-income students. In the U.K., students whose family income is below the national median receive an extra £100 per month, as well as, funding from Erasmus, the European educational exchange program (Chiose, 2017).

While many countries are working on improving student funding, there are also ways that students can cut down the costs for themselves. First off, they can get a part time job. While this will not cover their entire expenses, if they start saving up from a young age, it could significantly reduce the costs of studying abroad.

The best way to reduce costs is to get a scholarship. Although most of them have conditions, there are so many different scholarships out there, there is bound to be something for everyone. Finally, consider studying outside of the United States and the United Kingdom. They are two of the most expensive countries to study abroad. There are many other countries throughout Europe that offer free tuition for international students, such as: Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, and France (M2 Presswire, 2018).


Research has shown that studying abroad impacts a student’s intercultural competence and personal development. Unfortunately, many students miss out on these opportunities because of the costs, but governments are working to fix this issue. More research needs to be done on what governments are doing to help make studying abroad more feasible.

Also, research highlighted two other concerns that students have about studying abroad: how it will affect their academic performance, and whether the degree will be universally accepted. Further research should be done to ease students concerns about the academic aspects of studying abroad.


  1. Chiose, S. (2016, Nov 14). The great non-escape: Why students stay put instead of studying abroad. The Globe and Mail Retrieved from https://libproxy.wlu.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.libproxy.wlu.ca/docview/1838658088?accountid=15090
  2. Costello, J. (2015). Students’ stories of studying abroad: Reflections upon return. Journal of International Students, 5(1), 50-59. Retrieved from https://libproxy.wlu.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.libproxy.wlu.ca/docview/1697487301?accountid=15090
  3. Jones, D., & Blue Orchard Communications. (n.d.). Creative Organizational Design, Inc. – COD. Retrieved from https://www.creativeorgdesign.com/tests_page.php?id=75
  4. Maharaja, G. (2018). The impact of study abroad on college students’ intercultural competence and personal development. International Research and Review, 7(2), 18-41. Retrieved from https://libproxy.wlu.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.libproxy.wlu.ca/docview/2101893076?accountid=15090
  5. Petzold, K., & Moog, P. (2018). What shapes the intention to study abroad an experimental approach. Higher Education: The International Journal of Higher Education Research, 75(1), 35-54. doi:http://dx.doi.org.libproxy.wlu.ca/10.1007/s10734-017-0119-z
  6. Singh, S. (2018, Aug 21). What’s the cost of studying in popular foreign countries? wealth-spend]. The Economic Times Retrieved from https://libproxy.wlu.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.libproxy.wlu.ca/docview/2089957584?accountid=15090
  7. STUDENTS THE WORLD OVER ARE TURNING THEIR BACKS ON OVERPRICED INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION. (2018, Jul 18). M2 Presswire Retrieved from https://libproxy.wlu.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.libproxy.wlu.ca/docview/2071087435?accountid=15090
  8. Terzuolo, E. R. (2018). Intercultural development in study abroad: Influence of student and program characteristics. International Journal of Intercultural Relations : IJIR, 65, 86. Retrieved from https://libproxy.wlu.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.libproxy.wlu.ca/docview/2098784141?accountid=15090
  9. Trower, H., & Lehmann, W. (2017). Strategic escapes: Negotiating motivations of personal growth and instrumental benefits in the decision to study abroad. British Educational Research Journal, 43(2), 275-289. doi:http://dx.doi.org.libproxy.wlu.ca/10.1002/berj.3258
  10. What is DMIS? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://meldye.weebly.com/what-is-dmis.html

The Impacts of Studying Abroad essay

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What are some effects of studying abroad on international students?
Improve your language skills. Experience a different style of teaching. Impress employers. Enhance your network. Learn about new cultures and perspectives. Develop your confidence. See the world. Discover career opportunities abroad.
What are the advantage and disadvantage of studying abroad?
The advantages of studying abroad include learning a new language, boosting your résumé and experiencing new things, while the disadvantages include crippling homesickness, high costs and cultural barriers .
What are the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad essay?
The advantages of studying abroad include learning a new language, boosting your résumé and experiencing new things , while the disadvantages include crippling homesickness, high costs and cultural barriers.
What are the main benefits of studying abroad?
With study abroad, you can experience new places and cultures, make friends from around the world, and gain a global perspective–while earning credits towards your degree . It will allow you to develop highly-valued skills such as intercultural communication, foreign languages, adaptability, and problem-solving.
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