We’ve read her articles all semester long. Her adventures in London, the lessons she’s learned, the memories she’s made. Now, Niki K. is wrapping up her semester abroad and reflecting on everything she’s learned. From figuring out the England transportation to adjusting to a new school system, Niki used each situation, each experience, and each push out of her comfort zone to learn life-long skills she can bring back to the US.
Keep reading to find out what lessons Niki learned and how studying abroad can help you develop as a professional!
As I sit here with only one week left in London, I can safely say I never want to leave. I didn’t cry when I left, but you can bet I will be a mess as the plane takes off for New Jersey in a few days. Needless to say, my study abroad experience was extremely successful and the greatest experience I have had in my life. I know there are many people who aren’t sure if they want to spend three months in another country away from their friends and families, and to them I say: “Go! Explore the world, make unforgettable memories, and meet amazing people!” The things studying abroad has taught me that I wasn’t expecting were all of the lessons I plan on taking into the work force.
Here are 4 lessons only studying abroad can teach you about working.
This is something that cannot be said enough, but communication is key when it comes to working or interning at a company. As a new employee (or one who’s been somewhere else for years), it’s important to keep every channel of communication open to your colleagues. This will allow you to get your work done in a more efficient way and, if any problem does arise, allow you to count on others for their help. Studying abroad teaches you how to communicate differently. You’re forced to work with people you don’t know in an environment you are unfamiliar with. These same expectations are held from your boss or professor. It’s a key skill to have in your back pocket because when you first start at a company, the same situation will most likely happen and if you have already been there, you have nothing to worry about.
2. Learning How To Act Like a Chameleon
Being able to adapt to different situations life throws at you is a skill that is very important when it comes to work because anything can go wrong and you have to be able to fix it. You have to make sure to keep a cool head about the situation so things go smoothly. The same can be said about studying abroad. Losing your passport, having your phone stolen (possibly more than once), or getting lost in a foreign country and not knowing the language are all things that can call to you while you’re abroad (thankfully none of these happened to me). You can’t freak out if something like this happens. Remaining calm when something doesn’t go right the first time is important to remember; otherwise, you will not only stress yourself out, but others around you, as well.
3. Parlez-Vous Français?
It’s no secret that knowing another language in this day and age is a skill many companies want with their employees, but it’s mostly not necessary, depending on the field you’re pursuing. Then again, it can’t hurt. You never know who you’re going to be working with everyday or even just on a special project. Your partner might be from Spain or Italy or China! How cool would it be if you knew the language, even just a little bit? Knowing another language can help spark communication between yourself and others in your company and can show an interest in your colleagues. It’s pretty obvious how knowing another language is important when studying abroad, especially if you’re living in a country that doesn’t speak English. Luckily, people in London speak English so I didn’t have much of a problem there! However, even though I traveled a lot, I was fortunate enough that the only places I went that spoke another language were Paris and Italy. Even then, I’m thankful for learning both of those languages at high school and UD, because even though I did speak a little English when I was there, the natives really did appreciate when I started speaking to them in French and Italian. You don’t need to be an expert, but knowing a few words and sayings can help you!
4. Problem Solver
How man times have you been asked in an interview to give an example of a time when you solved a problem and stepped up into a leadership role? I feel like I am always giving the same response, but now I can talk about my whole three months being abroad and how I managed to thrive being here taking every problem I faced head on. When you’re abroad, you’re going to have to adjust to a new transportation system, possibly a new language, and a new school system. The last one was the hardest for me to deal with because I got so used to the way UD works for the past 2 years, so coming into a new system was a big of a struggle. Being able to tell an internship coordinator in an interview about a time when you studied abroad and helped you and your friend navigate the tricky streets of Dublin or helping someone try and get their phone back after it was stolen (both happened to me) not only shows leadership and problem solving skills, but also opens up the conversation within the interview for you to talk about studying abroad.
There are so many reasons why studying abroad should be incorporated into you studies regardless of the lessons you will learn to help you become a better employee. With these four thoughts in mind, I hope this persuades you to step outside of your comfort zone and live in that country you’ve always dreamed of seeing for a couple of months. Think of all of the things you will learn and how you can bring them back to your life in the US. I know that I personally can’t wait to apply everything I learned in London to my internship in the spring!
Social Media Marketing Intern
University of Delaware Career Services