International education is the education beyond borders, which has expedited the path to the development of a world culture. The door to this concept is opened by globalization and has made people who engage in it globally aware and citizens of the world.
Those who partake in international education and cultural exchange opportunities see the benefits in several ways.
1. Brings Unity
International education creates a melting pot. Participants come to discover that a multitude of similarities exist between us all. Along with cultural exchange, it also allows us to understand that no matter one’s background, we’re all merely trying to figure out life. This realization is extremely important; it means seeing everyone simply as human beings and helps us take the first step towards unity.
Moreover, from my personal experience, I can assure that this allows us to debunk the stereotypes that often cloud our judgement. “All Germans are mean” or “All Pakistanis are terrorists” are examples of negative assumptions that we are too narrow-minded to let go of. International education opportunities help us debunk thoughts like these.
During my semester in Limerick, I was placed in a house that had students from all around the globe: Asia, Europe, America, Australia, and Africa. At the end of the semester, I’ve ended up with lifelong connections in all parts of the world. This is just an example of how international education brings unity among people.
2. Gaining a Worldlier View
Sharing cultures allows us to become open and tolerant to new things. As I mentioned before, my living situation abroad was very diverse. When one of my European roommates realized I follow Islam, she was very shocked. She talked to me openly about her feelings towards Muslim people and how it developed within her since early ages. She was eager to know more about the religion and people who follow it. Although it was hard for her to accept in the beginning, she slowly rejected those stereotypes — and she even visited me this Halloween!
So, we see the benefits of international education when it opens our eyes to different viewpoints and makes us empathetic toward people from other cultures and traditions. It also opens our eyes to our own culture.
3. Flexibility, Adaptability, and Confidence
Studying and living in a new country requires many changes in lifestyle. In moving to Ireland, I had to get used to using buses instead of Uber as my means of transportation. I also got used to eating an early dinner. Additionally, I’ve had to get used to the differing education system. When you study abroad, there are typically only a few months to get used to the system and stay on track. For example, in my collegiate experience the United States, I’ve found most courses are evaluated continuously. In Ireland, 60% of most of my classes were based on the final exam. All of these types of experiences can make an individual more flexible and adaptable to foreign situations.
The most important trait that I’ve developed from studying abroad in Ireland was self-confidence. Now I know that I can move to a country all by myself and have a great time. I have the confidence that I will be able to mold myself into who I am meant to be and can make great friends along the way. International education is the first step towards appreciating the beauty of cultural diversity and in turn making us global citizens.