Why You Should Study Abroad.

The world is shrinking into a global village, international trade is reaching unprecedented heights every day, and countries are relying on each other much more than any time in the history of mankind, thanks to technology, innovation and globalization.

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Ramnarayan TN
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Master's student at ESCP London. Love traveling to new places. Crazy fan of Test cricket 😉 (will watch every ball, if time permits).

       This is the first time I’m getting a chance to study abroad, and what better place than London?  I received my admit into the oldest B-school in the world, and I consider it as a privilege to share the classroom (albeit virtual for the moment) with my peers and faculty, from all parts of the world.  Gone are the days when students studied in their home countries and stayed in their comfort zones.  The world is shrinking into a global village, international trade is reaching unprecedented heights every day, and countries are relying on each other much more than any time in the history of mankind, thanks to technology, innovation and globalization. This necessitates ambitious career seekers, to work with colleagues from a totally different cultural background and upbringing.  It requires proper communication skills (both verbal and non verbal), being able to understand and perceive others’ intentions among the gamut of other interpersonal skills.  One would argue that “all these are taught right from school level, what’s the big deal in this?”. 

“…with every adversity, there comes an opportunity.”

The point I’m trying to make here is, students who choose to study only in their own country, often interact with peers who are, more or less from a similar cultural background.  The moment they step into the corporate world, they initially struggle to communicate effectively with people from a different background.  The issue is more pronounced in MNCs, where employees have to work in teams, often composed of a mixed cultural make up.  The resulting barriers and gaps in communication have the potential to lead to landslide losses, for both the company and the individual.  It’s a situation that no company (nor individual) would want to find itself (himself/herself) in.  Having said that, with every adversity, there comes an opportunity.  So, what can students learn from this, and how can they better equip themselves going forward?

That’s where the experience of studying abroad comes in, the value of which is often understated by unimaginable proportions.  Some may choose to study abroad only post graduation, while some may do so right from under graduation, or even earlier. Students who wish to pursue only a bachelor’s degree, often tend to choose a university at (or close to) their hometown.  It’s quite understandable, because most of them who tread that path are content with a low profile, steady income job.  On the other hand, those who wish to pursue a masters’ degree or a PhD, are motivated individuals with clear-cut career goals. 

Most of them are particular about the specialization they want to pursue, and don’t mind crossing borders, if that means a better choice, which often is the case.  For them, the benefits of studying abroad are manifold, skills they would acquire are multifaceted and the exposure they would gain is unparalleled. 

          Almost any post graduate course would entail a great deal of practical work in the curriculum, unlike the undergraduate courses, which are traditionally oriented towards theoretical learning.  With practical learning comes a chance to work in groups.  Peer group interactions while working for a project are the best part of overseas higher education.  Most of the universities ensure that the groups are formed with a heterogeneous mix of students, in terms of their nationality/culture.  For an outsider, one may think- “how on earth, can they come up with something productive, if they can hardly understand each other?”.  The reality however is contrary, and for better.  These students are like minded, in the sense that, they have come together to pursue the same degree, and this common interest creates a sort of a bond, which overcomes all the other barriers.  These students come with their own unique skills, talents and knowledge.  Each of them brings a different perspective and a different approach to the same problem.  When part of a group, it presents an opportunity like none other, for them to learn from each other, develop skills that others are good at etc.. Through this experience, they would become a better version of themselves (this can be thought of as similar to a software update).  Networking with students from varied backgrounds opens the door to loads of opportunities, in terms of connecting with people who share a similar career interest and only sky is the limit.  Who knows?  Soon, you may find the job of your dreams, thanks to the relationships you cultivated at the university. 

Coming to the question of which are the best destinations for studying abroad, it depends on what the field of study you are interested in is, and also your budget.  For management studies, London and Paris are some of the best destinations, apart from U.S.A..  They have a plethora of top notch B-schools, the world’s best faculty and the course content is structured in a way that is highly relevant to the demands of the industry.  Top B-schools have the curriculum framed with a near perfect blend of theory/concepts and case studies, which is what sets them apart.  These universities are improving every year, by upgrading their syllabus, grading and evaluation scheme, with the aim of bridging the gap between what they learn at school and the assignments they will soon take on in the corporate world.  Even in times of COVID, the online mode of education may have been a subject of scrutiny among critics, but the universities have left no stone unturned in ensuring that the virtual classroom environment nearly resembles the face to face one, with absolutely no compromise on the quality of lectures.  There’s no denying the fact that students would find it easier to work on group projects in a face to face setting, but one should take no credit away from them, as they have risen to the challenge and co-operated very well, and made the best possible use of the online resources (video conference apps, shared online doc/slides editing etc.) available to them.  All this is in stark contrast to ones who are stuck in their comfort zones, and unwilling to come to terms with the ever changing world.

          In hindsight, one may rue their missed chances, if they wish to stay in their comfort zones.  Having said that, students should never let go of the opportunity to study abroad.  On a lighter note, students would also enjoy their time abroad, as they would get to visit places they’ve only seen on T.V. all their lives, explore new and exciting wonders of nature, in a land far away from their hometown, try different cuisines… the list is long.  You can only do this in your twenties, before life’s commitments rob you of experiencing these little things in life, that can leave you with lifelong memories.

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