What is Study Abroad? - Definition & Benefits

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  • 0:00 Study Abroad
  • 2:04 Benefits
  • 3:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Andrew Diamond

Andrew has worked as an instructional designer and adjunct instructor. He has a doctorate in higher education and a master's degree in educational psychology.

Ever wonder what it'd be like to study in a foreign country? Well, with study abroad programs you can find out! In this lesson we'll cover the basics of study abroad programs, who can participate, and the benefits. A short quiz follows.

Study Abroad

Guten tag! Konnichiwa! Bienvenido! That's just three ways to welcome someone, but there are hundreds out there. The world is truly massive and contains billions of people in thousands of unique and distinct cultures. How are you supposed to learn about all of these people? Sadly, you'll never have enough time to experience them all, but with a study abroad program, you can have the chance to learn with and about a unique culture by diving in and getting hands-on.

Study abroad is the term given to a program, usually run through a university, which allows a student to live in a foreign country and attend a foreign university. In most cases, two universities have an arrangement which allows them to exchange students (hence the term 'exchange student') so that these students can learn about a foreign culture and broaden their horizons. The program usually grants credit for courses taken at the foreign institution and some also arrange for a work-study or internship agreement.

Study abroad programs come many shapes and sizes. The typical program one thinks of allows a student to spend a semester studying abroad, but some programs run for multiple semesters or up to a year. Some are geared solely around studying and attending a foreign university, while others emphasize internships or volunteer experiences. Programs also vary in how the student is supported, with some having a 'host family' situation, whereby the two students who are exchanged live at the other's respective house. Other programs simply provide a dorm or apartment for the student.

There are also study abroad programs for high school students and college graduates. High school students, due to their age, are often required to live with a host family or in a supervised living situation. A recent trend among college graduates has been the opportunity to teach abroad, frequently as part of a master's degree program to become a teacher in their home country. Others participate in research endeavors at foreign universities while pursuing graduate education.

Benefits

Until recently, there had never been any real scientific rigor applied to study abroad programs. Everyone just assumed that they were beneficial because those who participated in the programs said so. However, researchers have recently been investigating the benefits of study abroad programs, and the results have been very promising. Here's a quick rundown of just a few major benefits experienced by study abroad program participants:

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