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Benefits Abound for Students Who Study Abroad

Andean Weaving photo by Alexa Anders
First place winner of the 2011 International Education Office photo contest in the People Category: Andean Weaving by UMD student Alexa Anders.
The Wall photo by Matthew Manor
Third place winner in the People Category: The Wall by UMD student Matthew Manor.
The Hidden Castle photo by Tara Mortenson
Second place winner in the Places Category: The Hidden Castle of Kylemore Abbey by UMD student Tara Mortenson.

Last year, UMD sent 3.4% of its student body abroad, well over twice the national average from the year before. Studies and polls have found numerous benefits attributed to participation in a study abroad program.

Students are catching on to the positive side effects of such programs in record numbers. In addition to personal experiences that can change their perspectives, students can also increase their hireability in a competitive global economy.

Praveen Aggarwal, head of the Department of Marketing in the Labovitz School of Business and Economics, sees students grow and mature after studying abroad. "The biggest transformation is in a student's self-confidence. They come back a different person - very confident, very self-aware. They also seem to appreciate what we have in this country. They come back with some reference points to compare and contrast," he said.

Aggarwal also is a strong advocate of students learning in a different country. "They may get access to courses that are unique to that part of the world. They are also exposed to different styles of teaching and different styles of learning."

The website of NAFSA, the world's largest nonprofit association of international educators, states that, “International exchanges have often been cited as one of our strongest and most effective public diplomacy tools.” It is not required that one be an international studies major or future diplomat to gain from a study abroad experience, however.

Currently, one in five U.S. jobs is linked to international trade, yet U.S. companies lose an estimated two billion dollars a year to insufficient cross-cultural guidance for their employees in multicultural positions. There is a large and growing need for cultural competency on all levels of the American workforce, and a great way for a student to get his or her foot in the door is through international education programs and study abroad.

Statistically, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, and China have been the nation’s most popular study abroad destinations. This trend was echoed at UMD last year, where these countries made up nearly 35% of all study abroad traffic on campus.

UMD students are encouraged stop by the International Education Office, which is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4:30 pm, or call 218-726-8764, to discuss adding a study abroad component to their college experience.



Written by Zach Lunderberg and Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, May 2012

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UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,

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