Student Life

Everything You Need to Know about Study Abroad

Published by Afterschool.my on Oct 12, 2020, 03:02 pm

Looking at these people in the image, you might wonder, “What on Earth do they have in common?”

Well, it’s rather obvious – they’re foreign exchange students!

The three of them have embarked on an exciting adventure for a semester, studying abroad in foreign countries such as the UK, Ireland, and Japan. As you can see, they’re all glowing in the pictures!

Which begs the question, “What’s the big deal about studying abroad?”

The truth is, studying abroad has many fantastic benefits, from helping you find a good job to improving your social life. If you’ve always been interested to study abroad but were unsure on where to begin, then buckle up. In this article, we’ll cover who should study abroad, why you should consider abroad education, how you can do it and where to go!

The Who

So first of all, who should study abroad? The answer is – drum rolls, please – anyone! Gaining your education abroad is a global experience open to students of different cultures and background. If you have the means for it, then you should definitely grab the chance to embark on this intercultural experience!

The Why

But why should you study abroad? It can’t possibly be that amazing, right? Actually, it is! Here are some real reasons why studying abroad is worth it:

Teaches you independence

There’s something about being alone in a different country that sparks your independence.

Technically, you won’t be completely alone since you’ll have staff and new friends to accompany you. But it would still be different because of the cultural barrier. If you choose to study abroad, you will need to familiarize yourself with the language and the people and also look out for yourself.

If before your campus was only fifteen minutes away from home and dinner was prepared by your family, now you would need to adapt to living far away from your loved ones and make your own meals. This type of experience is definitely a great lesson on independence for you!

 

Makes you more culturally aware

If the world is becoming a global village, it means it’s our responsibility to respect and value other cultures.

The Internet has made us so intricately interconnected that culture sensitivity is now expected from everyone - and what better way to nurture your awareness than getting to know the culture first-hand?

Studying abroad gives you a front seat view of how different cultures work. Whether it’s the nuances in their language or how they behave in certain situations, your experience will develop your understanding and acceptance of the differences. This awareness is a great tool to help you make lifelong friendships with everyone around the world.

If the world is becoming a global village, it means it’s our responsibility to respect and value other cultures.

A new quality of education

The University of Oxford, United Kingdom, is ranked 5th among top 100 universities worldwide.

Studying abroad is also a great opportunity to learn first-hand from the leaders of the global industry. Think about it. The reason why we’re all encouraged to study abroad is because we know the quality of education over there is top-notch. Most universities in the UK or US are in The World's Top 100 Universities, and we’ve celebrated stories of local students who managed to nab a spot among those listed higher education institutions.

Plus, it only makes sense for you to pursue your studies at the global hub of your specific field. Where else should you study Spanish language if not in Spain, right?

Career opportunities are abundant

Did you know studying abroad looks really good in your resume? Employers tend to be incredibly impressed if they see that you have international experience. To them, international experience means you possess an open mind, can adapt to any situation and is resourceful. These three traits will instantly make you a worthy candidate in your job seeking.

If you study abroad, you will also inevitably pick up the language. And this extra language on your resume is a great booster - you will be developing important cross-cultural communication skills that most employers will find useful for potential global connections!

It changes you

“It's about the people I've met there. It's about falling in love with their culture. It's about how my lifestyle was when I was there. It's about who I am when I was there” – Hee En Qi, University of Sains Malaysia, Penang

Your experience while studying abroad will be a teacher unlike no other. The people you are exposed to, the culture and everything you learn along the way will expand your worldview. Some of your values will shift, while the ones that really matter will be solidified, but you will definitely come out of it all a better, more well-rounded person.

Perspective changes when you study abroad. Unlike travelling for two weeks, you will get a genuine look at how culture plays into everyday situations and impact everyday choices. Being in a foreign country without anyone you’re familiar with will also teach you to rely less on others and be more resourceful. And your confidence level will be off the roof as you make friends from all walks of life!

 

The How

Next, here’s a list of study programmes that you can join to get started on your study abroad experience:

Foreign exchange programmes

A foreign exchange programme is a popular choice if you wish to study abroad!

Your first option is definitely a foreign exchange programme! Available in both schools and universities, this programme specifically focuses on being a cultural exchange, and is arguably one of the more popular options for students to experience abroad education.

As a foreign exchange student, you will study and live abroad for a period of time that widely ranges, depending on the programme. For example, foreign exchange programmes in schools are usually shorter – running for a few weeks, at most – while a university student can study abroad for a longer period, ranging from two semesters or even complete a whole year there.

If you sign up for a foreign exchange programme, expect to stay with a host family if you are a secondary school student while attending classes at the local school. And when you’re not studying, you will definitely spend the rest of the days immersed with the different cultures as representative of your school or university!

Summer exchange programme

Not keen on spending too much time abroad because of your severe case of homesickness? Then a summer exchange programme is just right for you.

Unlike a foreign exchange programme, this one is short-term. The summer exchange programme is also a favourite for language faculties. Your university will send you to a partner university to spend roughly two to four weeks for you to immerse yourself with the culture and the language. Immersion is one of the best ways to learn a new language, so living with a host family, attending classes, and having to communicate most of the time in a different language can tremendously improve your vocabulary.

So to language majors, a summer exchange programme is great for you!

 

International dual-degree

A dual degree basically means you are completing two separate degrees at the same time! And if that isn’t ambitious enough already, you can also achieve this abroad with an international dual-degree.

In Malaysia, dual-degrees are partnerships between 2 universities to offer a single jointly-delivered degree that leads to 2 separate certificates awarded by the 2 institutions – one from a local university, and the other is from an overseas university, typically from Australia or the UK.

What’s great about dual-degree programmes is that you can choose to complete part of your studies abroad, at the affiliated overseas university! An international dual-degree sounds intimidating, but it’s definitely a great ticket to your study abroad experience.

Internships

International internships can boost your career.

Did you know that international internships also count as studying abroad? It’s true, especially if a university directly arranges it.

For some universities, the study abroad programme may include either a work-study or an internship agreement within the programme. In this case, you will typically spend a portion of your time abroad in classes, followed by an internship placement!  If however, your university offers no such programme, you should still consider doing your internship abroad – your initiative will definitely be appreciated by the faculty!

Doing your internship abroad is a great way to showcase to the industry that you are global-focused. Your experience with international work can indicate maturity, initiative, and the ability to follow through, making you extremely marketable once you begin job hunting.

Third-party sponsored programs

Other than schools or university led programmes, you can also opt for a third-party sponsorship to get your education abroad. These types of programs are operated by organizations such as AFS Malaysia, the country’s pioneer organization in intercultural education.

If you feel like embarking on your abroad education with students from other university backgrounds, then this is the perfect choice for you! Third-party sponsored programs are also a great choice to satisfy major, minor, or elective requirements, as well as internships!

The Where

And now comes the hard part, where should you study abroad? It’s easy to be side-tracked by the country’s landscape and luxurious culture, but here we will actually share with you why these countries in our list are great study abroad locations.

France

Business majors, this one's for you! France is a very popular choice for those wanting to study business related subjects. The country is a hub for international business and management education, hosting a number of business schools in the worldwide rankings. France also nabbed the 9th place for best country to learn languages!

In France, the academic year begins in September or October, ending in May or June, depending on the program and institution. If you’re worried about the language barrier over there, don’t sweat it. As a former lingua franca, France has begun the transition to English-speaking coursework for their international students.

While the cost of living here is undeniably high, tuition rates are surprisingly low, and students aren’t just paying for the education, but for the experience of living in a glamorous cultural epicentre. It’s no wonder France – or Paris, in particular – ranked 7th place for Best Student Cities!

 

Spain

You should definitely study abroad in Spain if you’re a lover of arts and humanities.

A country rich with history, it’s safe to say that you should definitely study abroad in Spain if you’re a lover of arts and humanities. Some of the most popular fields to work in with this degree include the English language, history and language, visual arts, and others.

In terms of culture, Spanish people are very friendly, and this can be seen into many aspects of daily life. For instance, public displays of affection are more common in Spain. And although the culture of the country speaks Spanish, English is a major language. It is one of the primary reasons that invites students from all parts of the world.

Spain is also one of the cheapest European countries to live in. The prices for groceries, toiletries and other items are fairly similar throughout the country, which does not happen everywhere in Europe!

 

United Kingdom

Of course, you should also seriously consider doing your abroad studies in the UK! Home to top universities in the world, it scored second for access to higher quality teaching.

Studying in the UK, you will get the opportunity to be taught by the world’s leading academics and to be creative and develop skills sets and confidence. This is because UK universities are inspected regularly by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education to ensure that they maintain the high standards of learning.

Sweden

Sweden is a leading hub for sustainable energy and technology!

Sweden is so much more than just IKEA.

In fact, Sweden is a great study abroad destination for students interested in sustainable energy and environmental conservation. They are the most sustainable country in the world with the highest percentage of renewable energy in the EU, making it a leading hub for sustainable energy and technology!

While English isn’t widely used, Sweden is gradually introducing English-based courses for their international students. However, study abroad experience in Sweden would also be the best opportunity to learn some Swedish. Don’t worry, the Swedish language shares many similarities to English, and by knowing some, it will be that much easier to immerse into your new cultural surroundings!

 

USA

If you’re an engineering student, then the US is definitely a great choice. Or simply choose the great ol’ America if you’re looking for a top learning experience!

For obvious reasons, the US takes pride in its technological advancement and it has made sure that all spectrums of the education sector are well equipped with the latest technology. Schools and institutions over there are often the first to test out top technological trends so that students are well prepared once they graduate. So, don’t be too surprised if your engineering classes use 3D technology or VR during lessons.

The US is also a great place if you’re looking for diversity. Immerse yourself in this centre of multiple cultures, a beautiful mix-match for everyone to be part of!

Germany

All international students attending a public university in Germany would be free from paying normal tuition fees.

Get this - Germany is the only top study destination whose universities charge no tuition fees!

Don’t believe it? Well you should because since October 2014, all international students attending a public university in Germany would be free from paying normal tuition fees. You will only have to pay a few administrative costs like student contribution, student union fee and a public transport ticket which account to around €250 per semester altogether.

Of course, in order to qualify, you have to finish your degree, otherwise you might have to pay more than that little original fee. But let’s be real, who wouldn’t finish in such a great location at such an amazing price, right?

 

Australia

If you’re planning to become an environmental biologist, then Australia is made just for you! However, Australia is also a fantastic study abroad destination for almost every other major which includes history, English, mathematics, communications, and veterinary science.

Australia is also incredibly diverse! Home to both traditional cultures and a modern blend of lifestyles that is as invigorating as it is accepting, international students are more than welcomed to study in Australia! No wonder more than 160,000 international students come to Australia annually.

 

Japan

Japan is home to some of the best STEM programs in the world.

You must live under a rock if you didn’t know about Japan’s top quality education. Japan is home to some of the best STEM programs in the world! So if you’re planning to further your knowledge in robotics, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and other fields of computer engineering, then this is your best choice!

You should also study abroad in Japan for the language. Japanese is one of the most beautiful languages in the world, and the most sought after. Learn Japanese by immersing yourself with the culture hands-on, and your multilingual ability will be an attractive trait once you begin working.

Plus, the Japanese culture is incredibly unique and beautiful. With thousands of years’ worth of history, tradition and culture, Japan offers students an invaluable opportunity to learn from the philosophers, poets, and historians of bygone years. Perhaps a lesson in ikigai might completely change your worldview, who knows?

Study abroad with MSU’s Global Mobility Initiatives

One of the best ways for you to study abroad is definitely through Malaysia Science University (MSU)’s global initiatives programs.

This initiative consists of three separate programs – the Global Leadership Programme (GLP), Global Mobility Programme (GMP) and Global Internship Programme (GIP).

MSU GLP will equip you with the leadership potential, professional skills, and international experiences to pursue a truly international career, through various competency activities designed for them. Upon successful completion of MSU GLP you will receive a Certificate of Completion and a notation on their transcript, which can provide a competitive edge in the global employment market.

Meanwhile, GMP is an initiative to help you discover and experience other cultures. Open to international students who dream of studying in Malaysia as well to local students who wish to study abroad, this programme facilitates student exchanges that entail one semester of studying abroad in a host university. Host countries include Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and Indonesia.

This programme is especially beneficial if you’re looking for an alternative route to embark on an intercultural experience! Not sure about studying abroad for the entirety of your studies? Then why not give it a shot for a semester or two with MSU’s GMP?

And of course, MSU GIP will help you complete your internship abroad, where you can work alongside global professionals via placements with industry partners onboard!

Studying abroad is so much more than just travelling

It is an experience that can completely change the core of your being – and no, we’re not being dramatic! So, if you have the opportunity to go overseas for either an internship or a summer exchange programme, seize the chance and don’t look back.

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