There’s no greater thrill than being a stranger in a strange land. To embark on an international adventure and find yourself immersed in a completely different culture is an opportunity for growth surpassed by few other opportunities. Though some may find the prospect of cultural and communication challenges daunting, the scientific benefits of foreign travel far outweigh any potential inconveniences. Here’s four (of way too many) reasons why it’s actually good for you to grab your passport and head for the border.
IT IGNITES A PASSION FOR LIFELONG LEARNING
Travel boosts your potential to learn — this isn’t breaking news, but it’s still worth noting. When the Institute for the International Education of Students(IES Abroad) conducted the largest known survey of study abroad alumni, nearly 90 percent of students surveyed said their experiences abroad had an influence over their subsequent educational experiences. More than 80 percent of students surveyed reported a renewed commitment to their continued education. Not only that, but more than 52 percent of respondents indicated they had achieved a postgraduate degree, which is particularly astounding given that only 9 percent of U.S. Americans obtained graduate degrees as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau at the time.
IT MAKES YOU A BETTER NEGOTIATOR
Immersion in a foreign culture awakens you to the different ways people in that culture think about life, which boosts your ability to communicate and negotiate. In one study, master of business administration (MBA) students at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University assumed the roles of a buyer and seller of a gas station and engaged in particularly difficult mock negotiation scenario. Wouldn’t you know it, those with experience living abroad were more likely to get creative and reach a deal that satisfied both parties’ interests.
IT CAN MAKE YOU MORE APPEALING ON THE JOB MARKET
Multicultural immersion can eventually lead to more job success. One study, conducted during an international 10-month MBA program, found that the number of job offers students received when the program could be predicted by the amount they were able to adapt and engage with other cultures. Simply put: Those students who were more comfortable and adept at integrating multiple perspectives and possibilities had more professional opportunities open to them. What an incentive to pursue your wanderlust!
IT MAKES YOU MORE OUTGOING
A change of environment can bring you out of yourself — even make you more outgoing! According to a study in the Journal of Personality, personality tests were administered to a group of German university students, half of which were preparing to study abroad. When the travelers returned, repeat tests revealed the travelers were found to be more extroverted and social than the nontravelers. Need more convincing? Research from the University of Southampton found that outgoing people are happier later in life.