Student blog: the benefits of studying abroad
Hailing from Slovenia in Central Europe, Ana was one of the 2017 Brisbane International Student Ambassadors. After working hard to qualify to study in Brisbane, Ana has fallen in love with the city since her arrival.
Below Ana shares how her time studying in Brisbane has impacted her personal development, career goals and lifestyle and also offers some insight into how studying abroad may benefit you – she is rather convincing!
The road of international education can be a fulfilling life adventure – an eye-opening experience that will benefit your future career, your lifestyle and your view of the world. It becomes part of your lived experiences, which cannot be taught, but only learned, and never taken away. I believe that life is a learning process, and formal education is a part of that magnificent journey. Studying abroad brings many opportunities and is a very effective way of changing how we view the world.
“Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” – John Dewey
After almost two years of studying in Brisbane, I wanted to share my thoughts on this incredibly worthwhile experience. I have broadly divided the benefits of studying abroad into three areas: career, lifestyle and personal development.
How studying in Brisbane benefited my…
As an international student in Brisbane I have enhanced my professional skills through part-time work and volunteering. With limited time for work and study, I’ve chosen to continue to work in the tourism field as an accommodation manager of a guest house and as a receptionist in a hotel. Both roles have provided me with the opportunity to familiarise myself with the tourism landscape in Brisbane, industry principles and create relationships that may act as professional references for the future.
Through volunteering I’ve focused on the media, as I want to improve my public relations skills to support my career goals. I started volunteering for Radio 4EB – a multicultural radio station in Brisbane – where I have completed all the licensing requirements for a broadcasting and panel operator.
For two years I’ve been hosting radio shows for my community which has in turn enabled me to participate in numerous radio interviews for different radio stations both locally and nationwide. Through sharing music and writing articles I’ve managed to stay connected and in touch with my country and Slovenian culture even though I am far away from home. It’s also been really fun to host radio shows and I’ve met some great people through interviews who have enhanced my experience in Brisbane.
Radio hosting also enabled me to connect with other multicultural organisations such as the Slovenian Language and Culture Association Queensland – I have written and edited journal articles for them and we have now established a bilingual magazine called The Hen. The magazine showcases different aspects of Slovenia’s culture, tourism and heritage and features interviews with Slovenians in Australia. The key aim of this magazine is to share and maintain the Slovenian culture for present and future generations in Australia and abroad.
Needless to say, my working and volunteering positions have been very beneficial for my career development, not just for improving industry-related skills, but also for expanding my professional network with numerous people, institutions and organisations.
“Education brings about opportunity, and in turn inspiration.” – Bill Frist
Every student who wants to succeed in the global economy should consider studying abroad. Employers value candidates with a resume full of international experiences, as it indicates an ability to adapt to unfamiliar environments. Job applicants who may have developed the ability to speak and learn in multiple languages are also highly prized.
Students who study abroad will be exposed to a range of new professional experiences, volunteering, fellowships, scholarships and internships that they would not have had access to had they stayed home. Also, international students will be exposed to institutions and cities that provide access to more specialised and developed industries in their respective field of study.
In less than two years I’ve made many friends, including friendships I will treasure for a lifetime. I’ve learned Latin dance through free weekly salsa nights, I’ve power walked and cycled hundreds of kilometres around the city, and I’ve hiked the beautiful surrounding mountains, alongside rivers and other landscapes.
My time in Brisbane has enabled me to experience other countries, cultures and languages through various festivals and events promoting multiculturalism. I have taken every opportunity to take part in a broad spectrum of international events where I have been introduced to multicultural music, tradition, food, people and languages. All of this has taught me many things, and even helped me overcome homesickness.
"The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.” - Daniel J. Boorstin
Studying in a foreign country offers a chance to discover a new country’s culture, getting to know its people, sightseeing and exploring new landscapes, gaining cross-cultural competence and intercultural development and developing an open mind to the world and its increasing connectivity.
Of course, there are also many social benefits to studying abroad, as your social media networks expand with new friends and acquaintances, and building new relationships becomes part of your everyday life. Likewise, your adoption of new activities such as language courses, dance classes, sports activities and sightseeing tours also contribute to self-growth and give you the ability to seize opportunities that will present themselves throughout the rest of your life.
Brisbane offers so many opportunities and activities catering for people of all walks of life that many times I had wished my day could last longer. Engaging in different situations, being out of my comfort zone and discovering the unknown is a treasure of personal existence. While I think advanced technology is amazing, I do recommend switching off all devices from time to time and putting yourself into real life.
I feel that loneliness and homesickness brought the best out of me – not just in my studies and work, but also my free time which I used a lot for volunteering. I also did a lot of yoga, which really helped me with self-awareness and stress levels.
“What we learn becomes a part of who we are.” - Kathy R. Jeffords
A year or years of studying in another country can create a lifetime’s worth of experiences and have a profound change on your mindset. Very often it is not easy and you will miss home. But difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations, meaning that all your challenges will ultimately be rewarded. You will discover the beauty of being independent, learn about your inner self, and develop an awareness which becomes part of everyday life. The constant progress and commitment, the changed perceptions and spontaneous steps that underscore this spectacular challenge will end up being the most fulfilling adventure of your life.