Elisa from Spain - ESC volunteer in Pau, France
Today, the 22nd of February 2021, is the US National Study Abroad Day. Elisa, volunteer at Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour in Southwest France recounts her view on the importance of studying abroad.
The importance of studying abroad:
The positive impact for students, cities and universities
The ‘Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour’ hosts more than 1970 international students who choose to spend at least one year abroad during their studies. Many other universities are also experiencing a considerable increase on student mobility, which has lately become a very convenient option in terms of transport, money and language. This possibility offers many advantages for both students and the local community.
Most students choose to go abroad to live a new experience, enhance their employability or learn a new language, but there’s much more to it. Our generation has generally more access to formal education and information than any other before. This is why young people must complement this education with the so-called soft skills. Soft skills are qualities that do not depend on a specific acquired knowledge. They are general abilities related to empathy, problem resolution, experience in diverse contexts, creativity, communication, and so on.
Living abroad is an incredibly rich experience which teaches students a new savoir-faire, a new way to work in teams, to understand others, to collaborate and adapt to a whole different academic, social and cultural reality. It is the first step to becoming an international person in a globalized world full of challenges and constant exchanges.
For host universities and cities
International exchanges have an extremely beneficial impact on the local community. Receiving a significant amount of foreign people affects the local community’s diversity. Locals get the chance to train their empathy and tolerance, learn from other cultures and exchange linguistic and general knowledge. Interculturality is much certainly the vaccine to hate, nationalism and intolerance.
In more material terms, a big number of incoming international students usually helps tourism and the local economy.
International experiences in a nutshell
This experience allowed me to live new adventures, crazy moments and especially, to meet beautiful people. Why stay home when we feel like flying away?
– Irene Sierra, ancient volunteer at the UPPA
I learned how to live by myself, enjoy my own company. I opened up to new people and socialized a lot. I managed to create links with people from different backgrounds, cultures, languages, and lives. I created so many wonderful memories that will forever stay with me.
This picture was taken on February 1st 2020 for the opening of Rijeka European Capital of Culture. It was in a structure where the walls were distorting mirrors.
– Ludivine Thauvin, student at the UPPA
I had travelled before, but living for months in another country really makes you rethink your values and everything you had given for granted. I discovered a new way of working, thinking, and interacting with others, and I made friends for life.
Picture taken during the last trip me and my flatmates did together, to Edinburgh.
– Elisa Sánchez, volunteer at the UPPA