Learning a new language abroad is one of the most rewarding things you can do: it’s great for your brain (yes, being bilingual really is better), great for your confidence and great for your career. Becoming fluent isn’t easy, however, and the more you invest into it and the longer you spend immersed in the new language – using it every day in lots of different situations – the likelier it is that you’ll reach your goals.
Here are the ten most important benefits of studying abroad for a longer time:
1. You’ll gain complete fluency
It’s no secret: The longer you study abroad, the greater fluency you gain. Through a daily combination of classes and real-world interactions (every single day for several months), you’ll notice a dramatic improvement in your language skills but also your confidence.
2. Your self-confidence will skyrocket
It won’t just be your communication skills that’ll enjoy a boost: One of the biggest benefits of living abroad is that your self-confidence will increase as well. Navigating a different culture, making new friends, and managing a budget are all skills that will help you become a confident and independent globetrotter.
3. You’ll learn the local lingo
There’s a real difference between learning a language and truly living it. When you spend an extended period of time in another country, you pick up the little quirks, the local idioms and a much more authentic accent. You’ll learn how to speak like the locals, realize how to read between the lines and understand the culture’s typical body language and gestures. The more local lingo you know, the deeper your connection to your new home.
4. You’ll be truly immersed in a new way of life
Studying abroad for a week or two will give you a glimpse into another culture, but staying for an extended period of time allows you to fully immerse yourself in your host country’s way of life. You’ll learn to see the world in a new light as you explore every aspect of your new home away from home.
When you’re studying abroad for only a few weeks, you’ll probably have to leave right when the barista starts to remember your name and know what you order each morning. Long-term study abroad students will have enough time to find the perfect coffee place, have a go-to pizza delivery for rainy Netflix evenings and know whom to call to get a reservation for that super hip brunch place.
5. You’ll have more time to explore
Ticking off destinations and activities on your travel wish list is just that little bit easier for those who study abroad for more than a few weeks. There’s only so much you can see during weekend trips, after all. Long-term students benefit from vacation dates between terms, meaning they have plenty of time to explore their new city and beyond. That also means friends and family can come and visit you – and you can show them around like a local.
6. You’ll kick-start your career
Ask any graduate: It’s a competitive world out there. Everyone’s looking for that thing that will make their CV stand out. Adding complete language fluency to your resume is your gateway to your dream career. On top of bilingualism, your time abroad will also help you develop a cross-cultural skill set that companies around the world look for when hiring.
7. Your future will become clearer
Long-term programs give you the flexibility to get a taste of your chosen future profession. Many courses enable you to put your language skills to the test thanks to internships and special interest lessons. You’ll get to sample the reality of the industry while gaining vital international work experience to add to your CV.
8. You’ll earn proof of your language level
Universities and employers will want to see official proof of your language level. By studying abroad for a longer time, you’ll have the time to work toward the internationally recognized language exams that will help you reach your future academic and career goals.
9. You’ll get super brainy
It’s a fact: Learning a language makes you smarter, more empathetic etc. etc. Problem-solving, multitasking and decision-making all become easier as your brain becomes more nimble and better at cognitive processes.
10. You’ll improve your native language skills
Language learners become sharper communicators even in their mother-tongue. When you learn a language you’re – consciously or unconsciously – reflecting on the structures of both languages while refining skills in both.