Top 10 Reasons to Study Abroad

By Gemma Creagh - Last update


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Tempted to study abroad? When considering where to study at postgraduate level, there are a lot of factors to consider. Which is the best programme for you with regards cost, suitable accommodation, university supports, or programme content? Does the course you’re looking at provide teaching experience? Do they have a strong department, research background or archive in your chosen field? 

In Ireland, we have a wealth of excellent training providers that rank very highly on the international scale. However, with recent funding cuts to HEIs; consistently rising fees; combined with the sky-high cost of living in our cities, it’s important to keep your options open when examining what’s right for your future. Here are the top 10 reasons to consider studying abroad.

1. Satiate that Wanderlust

If you have always loved traveling, and feel that you’re at your most challenged when you’re visiting a new place, undertaking your postgraduate training overseas is a no-brainer. It’s a great way to scratch that itch and prepare yourself for your future career in one fell swoop. Also, it’s a good idea to be fiscally prepared, and save enough for travel on your downtime. You can use your location as a ‘base’ and visit as many surrounding areas as you can, which will make your stint even more memorable.

2. Test Drive a Potential New Home

So you’ve done the research and heard that Canada/Germany/X is a lovely place to live. Why not dip a proverbial toe in the water before packing up and moving over there for good? A year-long training programme, along with the student visa you’ll need if it’s outside the EU, is the perfect way to see if this country could be a prospective home for you. Can you see yourself starting a career, or building a life there? After you complete your course, you’ll know for sure. Either you can start the application process to move over for good or leave with a qualification and the knowledge that it’s not right for you.

3. Assert Your Independence

Mammy won’t be washing your laundry every Friday; there’ll be no more lifts when you oversleep; and you can forget about waking up hungover on a Sunday afternoon to a freshly cooked roast with 3 types of spuds. When you study abroad you’ll be completely on your own. This level of independence is a soft landing into the responsibilities – and freedoms of – adulthood. You will get the chance to develop a whole new set of skills, and do what you want without the well-meaning (but at times overpowering) influence of those people who’ve known you all your life. Take this time to breathe, take heed, and figure out who you are.

4. Explore

In a sense, absolutely everything in your life will be new. Firstly, you’ll get to explore the region you’re staying in. Even if you’ve been there previously on holidays, living in a place provides a completely different set of experiences to a quick visit. You will get to know the locals, their background and history, their customs and foods – be it poutine, pad thai or paella. Then through your postgraduate programme, you’ll also get to thoroughly investigate your chosen field of study. You can challenge yourself alongside like-minded leaners to a much deeper degree than you ever touched upon during your undergrad.

5. Become More Employable

Not only does a postgraduate qualification look great on any CV, but international study is an immense asset when it comes to your landing the job of your dreams. If you have thrived academically with positive references during your time abroad, this implies a certain skillset which is highly sought after; independence, self-reliance, discipline, communication skills, drive, bravery, and maturity. Studying abroad is rewarding but challenging, and any potential employer worth their salt will recognise this.

6. Learn a Language

The very best way to learn any language is to completely immerse yourself in the region. Set goals, learn phrases, and use every interaction to practice your diction. Acquiring a second language not only improves your memory but also increases your attention span. The act of becoming bilingual exercises your brain, helps you concentrate and increases your problem-solving ability. In fact, learning a language can even stave off the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia by years. Bilingual graduates are in high demand at any workplace, so use your time wisely and get practicing that vocab: ‘Je voudrais un travail s’il vous plait.’

7. Make new friends

A move to another country can certainly seem daunting, but don’t worry… as an international student, you’ll be alongside plenty of people who are in the same boat as you. When you’re engaging in an experience as exciting (and scary) as moving alone to a new city, you have a tendency to bond fast with your peers. Don’t be surprised if you graduate with a number of lifelong friends. One benefit of having an international group of besties is that you’ll have couches across the world you can crash on, as well as the best on-hand tour guides ever.

8. Expand your horizons

If you undergo postgraduate study in another country, you’re catapulted into another realm. That means that you’ll be forced to try new things constantly and lolling about in your comfort zone will be a thing of the past. You’ll try new food, meet new people, have experiences you’d never have dreamed of if you had stayed in the same college you got your undergraduate degree from. Things can seem overwhelming, but it’s so important that you challenge yourself and don’t let anxiety get the better of you. Just remember to breathe and take stock of how far you’ve come. These changes will all happen incrementally and when the time comes to go home, you’ll hardly recognise yourself.

9. Build a professional network

Most likely you’ll have given up a lot to study overseas; the move can be pricey; relationships and friendships have to be put on hold; you’ll miss important events, birthdays, and weddings. Keeping this in mind, it’s vital you make the most of your time and utilise every opportunity afforded to you by the experience. Connect with your university professors, teach undergrads and go to every lecture/conference you can. A rich, diverse professional network is invaluable for your own career. If maintained well, this means having access to outside advice, potential employment opportunities and is very attractive from the point of view of a potential employer.

10. Stand out from the crowd

At present, more and more people are entering the employment market with postgraduate level education behind them. As a jobseeker, if your CV has a qualification from a top international university this could mean the difference between it landing on the top of the pile, when you’re dealing with graduate placement, or somewhere in the middle. Not only does this set you apart from other applicants, but experiences like these make for interesting talking points. You will be more memorable to any interviewers and no doubt your experience will come with lots of anecdotes to illustrate what you learned along the way.


Gemma Creagh

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