Why Study Abroad?

The reasons to spend a summer, semester or year abroad vary from person to person. Consider your personal, academic and professional goals and motivations for study abroad. Study abroad should not be a parenthesis in your life, but rather an experience that shapes and influences your future.

Studying in a foreign country represents a significant enhancement to your Columbia education. You will discover insights into other cultures and develop new perspectives. You will reflect on how your own culture has shaped your understanding of the world before, during, and after the experience.


When you go abroad, you often gain a new perspective on your academic pursuits. Also, faculty abroad may use a different teaching style than what you find on the Columbia campus.

Leaving campus can be an invaluable step to your education. You can strengthen your curiosity and enthusiasm for academia by being in a new environment. In some cases, students:

  • pursue another major or concentration
  • identify a thesis topic
  • learn about opportunities for graduate programs or fellowships, or further language study

You will likely gain creative problem-solving skills from your time abroad. These skills will increase your ability to look at problems from a variety of perspectives.


Study abroad can help you develop important skills for your future career. When students return from study abroad they report increased:

  • Foreign language proficiency
  • Intercultural communication
  • Creative problem-solving
  • Adaptability
  • Flexibility
  • Networking skills
  • Motivation
  • Initiative

Gaining the skills is only half the battle! Work with career counselors at the Center for Career Education to articulate the professional skills that you have gained. Highlight these skills in your resume, cover letter, and in interviews.


Everyday experiences in a new country, culture, and language can be challenging and confusing. Overcoming day-to-day challenges increases your confidence and ability to adapt to new situations. You may feel more independent and self-reliant after you have completed your study abroad experience.

Study abroad can be an intensive experience that fosters life-long friendships. Sharing the unique experience of a semester abroad bonds people, and helps you create a global social network.