Why must you consider a global learning experience in 2018
In the 21st century, we witness a more interconnected world based on the exchange of ideas and cultures, driven by greater tech advancement and general well-being. Today, information circulates with almost instantaneous ease, transcending boundaries and impacting our communication with each other.
But this is also a divided world.
This is also a world which is more complex than ever, where environmental crises and conflicts due to cultural, social and political differences are amplified. How can education grasp the sheer plurality that our diverse world has to offer?
The benefits of gaining an international experience may play a decisive role for learners in the 21st century.
Going beyond mere travel.
An international learning experience goes beyond the idea of just travel. First-hand experiences in a foreign land test one’s character and abilities. Simple things like shopping or opening a bank account may seem intimidating at first but are all confidence-boosters. You gain more independence and wisdom living in the unfamiliar territory.
Going beyond your comfort zone on a consistent basis makes you more responsible and resilient in the face of challenges. Such experiences also teach you a lot about how people from other cultures experience life and look at the world.
The Clash of Cultures
An international student who comes to a new country carries with them certain conventions about their own way of life and its inherent customs and social values. All these values come face to face with a new culture in the destination country. You may experience a clash of ideas and traditions. This ‘clash’ exposes you to a new worldview that may help them empathize and appreciate a different way of life. You encounter a new culture, immerse yourself in it and explore it in depth. This broadens your cultural horizons.
Seeing the world with a new pair of eyes will also help you reflect on your own culture and values. You become more accepting and compassionate toward other communities. You become a more culturally aware citizen.
An international higher education offers the possibility of a different type of education.
When you are in a classroom or community with learners from different parts of the world, you are exposed to a diverse range of ideas and perspectives on your area of focus. You are no longer bound by a singular way of looking at academic content – you understand that there is more than one way of approaching an issue.
Don’t you think it is very exciting to be engaged in a learning process that involves global interpretations on the subject matter?! You are able to nurture several outlooks, which in turn influences your own style and approach. How enriching is that?!
As a student who is introduced to a new educational context, you will have to adapt and adjust to this foreign setting and cultivate its intrinsic methods and characteristics into your learning. You get a taste of new learning and pedagogy styles. You get the advantage of comparing all these styles with your previous experiences and incorporate the best of it for your learning. This makes you an agile learner.
Learning in a foreign locale can be an immensely productive experience as you try to know yourself better. In this voyage of discovery, you enlarge your perspective on the world and confront your own identity in an unfamiliar setting. You discover how others perceive your part of the world and how your country is represented on a global spectrum and the accompanying global opinions.
You can identify yourself as a global citizen. You develop grit and perseverance as you fight odds and stereotypes, evaluating yourself along the way. Negotiating barriers of language and culture add layers to your identity and toughen you to intelligently deal with the realities of the world.
Studying in a different culture can be an eye-opening experience as you get the opportunity of seeing things from a fresh perspective. It enables you to recognize and be critical of certain cultural stereotypes associated with certain communities. You become more open towards people who belong to different backgrounds and ideologies. All this greatly contributes to your personal and professional growth.
Be a better researcher
Further, as a researcher, you become aware of pressing global concerns shared across borders. Working in a foreign country raises consciousness regarding world issues and political events. It allows the researcher to scrutinize more closely how events and people around the world are portrayed in the mainstream media. By actually being in a foreign country and interacting with various people with different nationalities, one gains a new perspective of these events through judgments and sentiments heard from people who are from the affected regions. It improves one’s researching and writing skills and enables them to be more flexible toward their research material and content.
Just as an international higher education endows the individual with an eclectic mix of viewpoints, an international work experience gives one access to new ideas, professional and workplace skills. You learn to work in a multicultural environment and are able to gain a global perspective on your field of work. You are able to build networks of global relationships, creating links you can take forward as your careers progress.
You learn to take initiative by undertaking complex projects, which most often have a localized character. Since working in a multicultural atmosphere offers you the chance to interact with a heterogeneous set of people, it helps you in team building and enhances your communication skills. Associating with individuals from distinct backgrounds and working together with them on common projects boosts your inclination for collaboration and teamwork.
You learn to overcome obstacles by often dealing with the unexpected. It makes you more flexible and allows you to creatively and critically engage with problem-solving. It improves your capacity for imagination while handling uncertain situations. You are able to foster systematic thinking because you have to be on your toes all the time when you participate in demanding activities that will test your mental faculties and intellectual capabilities.
Have Impact with Empathy
In an increasingly globalized world, we need a collective vision and collaborative action on the most important matters challenging our nations. Global learning experiences will help individuals become truly global citizens with a multicultural perspective, individuals who are capable of working with people from diverse communities and walks of life.
Learning in a foreign environment motivates one to cultivate educated opinions about life and society, and gain an ability to make well-informed decisions. An enlarged perspective encourages one to develop empathy for others. In this scenario, individuals gain a lot of knowledge which they would not have otherwise gained.
The world today still struggles with poverty, hunger, inequality, natural disasters, crime, terrorism, environmental damage, climate change, pollution, corruption, injustice, refugee crisis and an equitable distribution of the world’s resources. In an international environment, while learning about these issues, students are more equipped to understand them from a multifaceted prism. This understanding inspires them to contribute towards alleviating these problems.
Skills for a lifetime
An international learning experience taps into the individual’s potential to innovate in an interconnected global climate and creates leaders for tomorrow. It can be an enriching learning lesson in sophistication and wisdom. One will walk away with its benefits, carrying it with them for a lifetime. Students who commit to such an experience wholeheartedly and embrace it will have far-reaching positive effects not only for themselves but also for society.
Such an experience will help the individual understand better how the world works.