Hey ladies, do you want to know a female-empowering secret? Women are literally taking over the world … in a good way, of course.
Out of over 300,000 college students that studied abroad in 2015, 65 percent of those students were women, according to data from the International Institute of Education. This isn’t entirely surprising given that U.S. colleges are 57 percent populated by females. While scholars have been unable to pinpoint specific reasons for this study abroad trend, research suggests that men prefer shorter programs connected to on-campus courses.
Are you one of the adventurous and powerful ladies studying abroad this year? Here are five reasons why every college woman should study abroad.
1. Break down the stereotypes
You’ll crush one stereotype simply by being a traveling woman. Whoever says men explore the world while women stay at home is clearly wrong. There are so many stereotypes about other countries. Studying abroad gives you a chance to form your own opinions. See how other countries really live and stand up for them when a perception isn’t true.
Albright College senior Monica Miller just recently came home from a short study abroad trip to Ireland, which she called a “liberating” experience.
“Everyone rants and raves about how dangerous it is, but they themselves have never experienced it. It was important for me to go for it because I’ve been told my whole life that any country but America is unsafe for a girl. I wanted to prove everyone wrong,” she said.
2. Experience an entirely new culture
You’ve likely been exposed to the same culture your whole life. Perhaps you studied other cultures in language courses, like Spanish or French, but you’ll never really know the characteristic features and lifestyle of another country until you live in it. Studying abroad will lead you to master a foreign language in a way that an American class can’t teach you.
“Go deeper than the tourist perspective,” GoAbroad experts say. “There will be a thousand different decisions you make every day while studying abroad that will inform how far past the surface of a country and its culture you delve.”
It might be a bit of a shock when you see the customs of another country for the first time, but it’ll get easier. In the end, you’ll come home knowing how diverse our world really is.
3. Discover yourself
Heading to new territory on your own is scary for anybody, but that courageous act is going to teach you so much about yourself. You can identify as anybody you wish to be. Every day will bring on new chances for you to surprise yourself. Every time you try a new meal, ask for directions with perfect dialect, navigate a city without help, or make a new friend, your confidence will skyrocket. Studying abroad will make you realize that you can conquer anything.
Amanda Canning, a junior at Villanova University, studied at the University of Urbino in Urbino, Italy last semester. According to Canning, there is no better way to travel than studying abroad.
“Along the journey, I discovered parts of my character that I did not even know existed. It opened my eyes to the world and to myself,” she said.
4. Get a glimpse of how the world treats women
Women are empowered — and, unfortunately, disempowered — in different ways all over the globe. You will see how gender is handled in your host country compared to home, and meet some inspiring women along the way. They’ll help you overcome the challenges of being a woman in a new place. Soon, you’ll be able to take on any treatment that society might throw at you.
“Strong females aren’t afraid of being alone or challenging the status quo,” an Australian Catholic University blog said. “Part of what makes them so strong is their willingness to just try it out in the first place.”
How do women in other countries push their way through gender roles to be successful? Listen to their stories carefully. Follow in their footsteps. Use their experience to make changes in the world for women everywhere.
5. See the bigger picture
It’s impossible to truly see past the pride in our own country without travel. We tend to focus on the hardships of our home and neglect what is happening everywhere else. Studying abroad can open your eyes to the current affairs of the world as a whole, and once again offer a chance for you to shed light when others can’t.
Heather Lash, a Muhlenberg College senior, traveled to Greece for a semester to study archaeology, which she said was the best experience of her life.
“It made me realize how little the U.S. truly knows about other countries, which is really problematic. Everyone thinks Greece as a country is failing, but it’s actually not thanks to tourism and the circulation of money from people who are not Greek. The people I met helped me grow and now I have a much clearer view on life all around,” she said.
There’s beauty and empowerment everywhere in the world, and studying abroad is your chance to find them. The experience will shape your future and give you the wisdom you need to be a woman that can make a difference