Why Study Abroad?

Study abroad is not just an adventure, but an investment in your future!  The world has become increasingly interdependent.  Understanding the complexities of this diverse world and developing intercultural competence will help you to function effectively in different contexts – personally, academically, and professionally.  Going abroad will help you better understand yourself and your own culture(s) from the perspective of others, allowing you to be a more responsible, ethical and successful global citizen.  So set yourself apart! Although study abroad participation is at an all-time high according to the IIE Open Doors Annual Report, only about 15.5% of U.S. undergraduate students pursuing a Bachelor’s degree will have studied abroad before graduating (1).

All majors can and should study abroad!  The IIE Open Doors Annual Report from 2017 indicates that in the U.S. more STEM and Business majors study abroad than any other major (2).

While abroad you have the opportunity to:

  • Understand your major from a different perspective
  • Take courses abroad not offered at UC Irvine
  • Increase your foreign language skills (learn, improve or become fluent in another language)
  • Improve your understanding of the U.S. and foreign affairs
While studying abroad is a great opportunity to expand your academic and professional attributes, it is also a time that is uniquely yours! Study abroad returnees report that while abroad you can:

  • Make friends from all over the globe
  • Gain greater independence and self-confidence
  • Acquire a greater tolerance for ambiguity and become more flexible/adaptable

According to a study conducted by AIFS Abroad, 92% of study abroad participants felt their study abroad experience gave them a better understanding of themselves and their values and 93% stated that it contributed to their sense of confidence in new situations or when meeting new people. (3)

Businesses of all sorts and at all levels of the economy seek university graduates who have authentic and sophisticated multicultural knowledge and possess the skills necessary to interact successfully with people from different cultures.  While abroad you can:

  • Participate in internships, research, or volunteer work that will enhance your resume
  • Expand your knowledge of possible career paths
  • Develop the 21st Century Workforce Skills that IIE has determined will make you a competitive applicant for post-grad opportunities like graduate school, the Fulbright, or full-time job opportunities in your field (4)

Launch your future! 

  • Research conducted by IIE found that 78% of study abroad returnees discussed their study abroad experience in a job interview (4).
  • According to IES Abroad, 97% of students that study abroad get a job within 6 months after graduating compared to only 49% of non-study abroad students. (5)
  • If you are considering grad school, 90% of study abroad alumni who applied got into their 1st or 2nd choice grad school. (5)
  • According to a study completed by Amerispan, 73% of employers say that study abroad is valuable to have on a resume because of the hard skills you will develop from the experiences you will have abroad (6).

Going the distance makes a difference!

However the simple act of going abroad doesn’t necessarily mean you will reap all of these benefits.  We encourage you to do the following when considering, planning, and executing your study abroad experience:

  • Consider your goals. Give your academic and financial plan some thought.  Know what you want to get what you want!
  • Push the envelope.  The more you get out of your comfort zone (culturally, linguistically, etc.) the more opportunity for growth.
  • Reflect on your experiences.  Unpack the benefits of your experience in our optional seminars while abroad and/or upon return.
  • Don’t let the flight home be the end of your journey.  Explore Returnee Opportunities to continue your global learning.