By Alicia Vida

Choosing a degree is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. However, deciding where you want to study is equally important.

Studying abroad is not only more and more common these days, but it is also becoming a highly respected option by the labour market. In addition to increasing your professional development you are contributing to your personal development. There is nothing quite like being on your own in a foreign country to bring out your independent nature, to discover yourself, to gain an understanding of another culture and to test your ability to adapt to diverse situations. It will be an experience unlike any other.

Here are some of the most important things every student learns when they study abroad:

You learn to respect diversity and difference.

Studying abroad means you will have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and you will most likely learn about the traditions in a different culture. In other words, you will need to adapt to an unfamiliar environment. This will make you more independent and open minded, and you will find yourself experiencing new ideas and thoughts. You will learn to respect and understand what you might have thought was strange or weird about other cultures. And you will definitely be surprised by how people from other cultures find strange things that are so ordinary and common to you!

You realize that you are an independent young adult.

Studying abroad means that you will have to do things on your own. You will have to learn how to budget your money, shop, cook, clean and take care of yourself. All of this while you are studying. This means that you will have exams, essays and many deadlines, but don’t forget that you also need to have food in your fridge, clean clothes, a clean room… It might sound like simple things, but I assure you, managing these things on your own is not easy. Especially if you have never lived alone before or if you are used to people doing it for you. By studying abroad, you will learn that you are an independent young adult, and that you have to make decisions on your own!

You learn to appreciate things more.

As mentioned before, living on your own is not easy and you will learn to appreciate everything that you might have taken for granted before. From small things, to having your laundry done, to more important things, such as realizing how important your friends and family are, and how much you miss them when you are abroad. You might feel like you are missing out on things, but you will soon realize that no matter what, every time you get back, it is still the same. Sure, things might have changed a little, but so have you!

You will learn that real friendships are forever.

It might sound clichéd, but it is true. Studying abroad doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have to do everything on your own. You will most likely make some amazing friends! When you study abroad, you are literally living with your friends. You go grocery shopping together, you watch movies together, you go out together, you study together Your friends become your family. So, what happens when university is over and your friends all take different paths? Well, the answer is nothing happens. You will miss them. A lot. But you will realize that no matter where you are, or how long it has been since you last saw each other, you will always be there for them. True friendships are forever.

You will change, and that is alright.

If you have ever studied abroad, you’ll understand. When you look back at your younger self, about to enter a completely different life in a new country, you can see how much you have grown. You’ll realize you have learnt so much from this experience and you might see yourself as a completely different person now. This is not a bad thing at all! Experiences shape us, and each one of us is different because of it. Studying abroad is an experience unlike any other, and you will remember it for the rest of your life. It will become one of the things that makes you who you are.