I’ll bet most people wouldn’t think of traveling the world as a method of resolving world conflicts. However, as a person who has spent the greater part of his life traveling, I can assure you that my main inspiration comes from being a world citizen diplomat. Traveling the world is part of my job. Every day I help students fulfill their dream to travel abroad in high school.
I started traveling internationally in my teens. I’d suggest every individual start their global travels as soon as they feel ready for an adventure past their state line. Studying abroad is no longer just for college students. It’s growing more popular for younger teens, as well.
Here are the 10 best reasons to travel abroad in high school:
No. 1 – Develop as a diplomat of the world.
I have seen first-hand, the exciting transformation all students of the world go through when they leave CIEE High School Abroad programs. By living with host families in a foreign country, they immerse themselves in another culture and language. They gain understanding and respect for the culture. It’s a two-way street. By sharing their home, the host family opens itself up to a new experience and defeats stereotypes.
No. 2 – Develop as a person.
When you study abroad in another country you push your personal boundaries to grow as an individual. You are forced to deal with a different language, customs, and means of transportation. Away from familiar support networks, you take on more responsibility and learn resiliency. Most students say studying abroad helped develop their self-confidence.
No. 3 – Prepare for a global future.
The book Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World by the Asia Society observes:
“Young people need to understand the worldwide circulation of ideas, products, fashions, media, ideologies, and human beings. These phenomena are real, powerful, ubiquitous. By the same token, those growing up in the world of today— and tomorrow! —need preparation to tackle the range of pervasive problems: human conflict, climate change, poverty, the spread of disease, the control of nuclear energy.”
Traveling allows you to hear and understand different perspectives on issues that pose real threats to people everywhere.
No. 4 – Acquire global competencies.
In addition to having a global more compassionate perspective, you acquire skills that transform you into a more desirable job candidate. Employers seek out individuals who are comfortable working in a diverse environment and flexible in their mindsets.
No. 5 – Increase maturity.
Students often use summer study abroad for independent exploration. This period away from the classroom, parents, and routine activities allows time to reflect and grow. Parents report a dramatic transformation during these short-term programs as their children return stronger and more independent.
No. 6 – Gap to grow.
Taking a gap year like the presidential daughter Malia Obama, is sometimes the wisest decision any young person can make. This pause between high school and college allows students to get off the high-achievement merry-go-round and have time for themselves. Many students claim that traveling was the first tangible opportunity they had to discover themselves and to decide what they want out of life. A gap year doesn’t have to occur far from home, but has added advantages when a different culture is added into the mix.
No. 7 – Sharpen focus.
Travel abroad in high school allows time for renewal. For example, the majority of students who take a planned, structured gap year return to college within six months with a reignited passion for learning and the ability to contextualize formal education using their “real-world” experiences. Many colleges recognize the benefits of a gap year.
No. 8 – Increase readiness for college.
Students who take a gap year are more likely to finish college in four years than those who enroll directly after high school. They also have higher GPAs and tend to be more focused. A study by Karl Haigler and Rae Nelson, authors of The Gap Year Advantage, found that 60% of gap year participants said the experience influenced or confirmed their choice of major.
No. 9 – New perspective on home.
You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, the saying goes. Students who study internationally see their hometowns differently when they return. Their experiences abroad forces them to see controversial issues like immigration in a new light. Many students even feel inspired to volunteer in their local community.
No. 10 make lifelong friends and memories.
The friendships formed can last a lifetime. I know. I went on my first international trip right after high school and made friends I am still close with to this day.
How can you make study abroad travel happen at a younger age? It starts with you. The best resource is real life experience. Ask friends and family about their international travel experiences, how they made intercultural experiences a reality, and what they learned from unexpected situations abroad.
The keys to a successful study abroad experience is identifying a program that meets a student’s long term goals. Look carefully into study abroad programs to find high-quality offerings that provide the desired cultural and learning experiences. Check out what others who have attended the program are saying. For example, CIEE gap year students blog allows students to write about their experiences abroad. You can also see ideas from the Gap Year Association.
Did these reasons convince you to travel abroad in high school or even at a later stage in life? Let us know your motivation for exploring the world in the comments bellow.