This article is a part of the East-West Center - US-China Strong Foundation Guest Contributor Program, which shares the experiences of American students currently or previously studying in China.
Although studying abroad is a relatively new concept, it has become increasingly popular in recent years. Every year, thousands of college students leave the US to study in a multitude of different countries. It has become a normal part of school life and in some cases an expectation that students will study abroad in a foreign country. It’s not just an expectation for students, but also for potential employees. In actuality, studying abroad is part of a larger system of globalization, or the notion that ideas should not be contained, but spread across the world. Through this system, everyone can work collectively towards solving the larger problems facing society. Studying abroad is arguably the most important step in this system, since it provides an early opportunity for people to experience the world and the problems in it.
One of the most common study abroad destinations for American students is China. The two countries have a strong relationship and are quite influential due to their large economies. Studying abroad allows both American and Chinese students to experience the cultures and traditions of the other country, ensuring that they have the necessary knowledge to maintain the vital relationship for generations to come. The US-China relationship not only has the power to influence widespread social change, but also opens up economic opportunities that employers are eager to be a part of. Employers want workers that can help them enter the international market. Having the ability to speak Chinese and having study abroad experience provide students with a huge advantage when entering the workforce. Not only do they open up access to high level positions, but provide opportunity to travel between US and China, exploring the culture and history along the way.
But taking a step back, studying abroad still offers countless benefits on a smaller scale. Having cross-cultural knowledge makes one a conscious global citizen. It allows a person to communicate on a higher level and understand a wide variety of concepts from both cultures. Studying abroad is also a great opportunity to make friends and contacts that you will keep forever. Even if you learn nothing from your experiences abroad, at least it gives you a chance to explore the world and see things from a different point of view. Whether economic or personal, studying abroad offers countless possibilities.
Czar Carson is a high school student from Chicago, Illinois, and is part of the US-China Strong Foundation Student Ambassador Program.