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Why International Education Is Important

by Alexis Voisard
College student in Rome, Italy | AIFS Study Abroad

International education has transformed my life, and it could totally change yours if you decide to study abroad! Spending a semester in London has given me access to a life-changing experience.

Here are three reasons why international education is important in my view, and what it has given me.

1. Diverse classroom environment

The classes that I’ve taken here at Richmond have felt a lot different than classes at my home university. Instead of having daily homework assignments and quizzes, I only have a midterm, final, and a few papers or presentations, and that’s all that counts towards my final grade. It requires a different kind of focus, and I’ve definitely had to re-evaluate how I dedicate time to getting assignments completed. Doing research and taking time to write and re-write my essays have taught me how to effectively set goals and complete tasks to get a big project finished, which is definitely crucial to my future job as a writer.

Additionally, my History of London course takes us out of the classroom every Wednesday to explore a different area of London. It’s really taught me how to evaluate how history is presented in museum exhibits, and what kind of narrative is told through descriptions of artifacts and how they’re displayed. I’ve walked along the path of the Great Fire of 1666 and walked along the Thames River to explore London’s theatre culture and dockland history. This class has taken me to the non-touristy sites of London to really grasp the rich history of this city. Without it, my knowledge of London would have been reduced to recognizing emblems like the London Eye or knowing the difference between Tower Bridge and London Bridge. Nevertheless, there is so much to gain from learning outside the classroom, and I’m so grateful for the experiences international education has given me.

2. Exposure to different cultures

Studying abroad in London has given me easy access to the rest of Europe which is full of diverse and unique cultures in every country! By the time I return home, I will have visited 7 countries, each with their own history and incredible diversity. All the differences I experience from country-to-country make me appreciate what’s lacking in my own American culture, like warm Italian hospitality, and certainly some aspects that I wish I could embed from American culture, like livening up the generally quiet atmosphere of the London underground system. Studying abroad has taken me out of my comfort zone so many times and has allowed me to reflect on my identity and what I want to bring back with me to the United States.

No matter where I end up as a professional writer, I will have to interact with people of all cultures. My four-month exposure to European culture will greatly set me apart from others who have not traveled outside of the United States. However, it’s important to note that international education has only sparked a beginning to a life-long process of learning about the world around me. It’s definitely heightened my ability to blend in with foreign cultures while also maintaining and appreciating traditions of my own.

3. Professional experience

Since I purchased a Canon camera, I started a YouTube channel for fun, and created videos documenting my everyday life and all of my trips in the U.S. and abroad! I’ve posted several videos documenting my study abroad journey, and my channel has grown immensely! I’ve surpassed 100 subscribers, which may be small in comparison to big YouTubers, but to realize that I have an audience who want to see content I produce is incredible! My new hobby actually landed me a project with Great British Magazine who reached out wanting to collaborate with me on a few projects! I scheduled a business call and had a meeting with them to go over the details. I had never really experienced this kind of girl-boss activity before, but if it weren’t for all the amazing experiences I’ve had abroad, I wouldn’t have been able to receive such a unique opportunity! These are the kind of experiences that I’ll be talking about in job interviews to sell the study abroad experience as not only a fun time, but as an investment for education and life-long learning.

College student in Rome, Italy | International Education Week | AIFS Study Abroad
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