Studying abroad is rewarding in many ways−not only do you gain academic knowledge, but you can also imbibe the culture and traditions of the country you are studying in. This can be an exciting and transformational phase of your life − you can make new friends, savour new experiences and learn to speak a new language or two.
Today, even though most multinational companies use English as the base of communication, it is still very beneficial to learn a second language. You can add value to your resume and build up your career opportunities by learning to speak and possibly even write a new language like the locals do! During job interviews, you will be able to share stories about how you used your foreign language skills or were able to experience a new culture with the locals. By being able to interact with others in their language, you will be a better team player and can excel at soft skills such as problem solving, giving you an edge over the competition.
The best way to learn to speak a foreign language is by immersing yourself in it. Language training courses are a logical first step to getting to know the basics of the new language. English may be widely spoken everywhere but you should still resist the temptation to take the easy way out by talking in a language you are already familiar with. Use every opportunity you get to speak the foreign language with the people you meet. While you shop, ask a stranger for directions, or exchange polite greetings, practice your new language skills till you perfect them. Such routine conversations will not be as simple if they are in a foreign language.
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and make mistakes…you may even be laughed at, but you should learn to laugh at yourself as well! You may speak slowly, forget the right words or make grammar mistakes; do not let this deter you from your efforts. Practice the language every day and soon you will definitely improve your abilities. You will be better able to forge new friendships and can form deeper connections and make local friends.
As a student, you can create tandem relationships with other students who want to become conversant in your language. They may want to learn your language, while you pick up theirs. This makes for some very interesting conversations and you can both benefit!
It is a great experience being able to communicate with local people in their own language. You will be able to understand their way of living, the local traditions and culture. You can gain an understanding of how big the world is, and how people are essentially the same at heart although their customs are different. Your perceptions and outlook will change and you will feel connected to the people and place around you.
It is a wonderful experience to be able to study abroad; and learning a new language while you are at it can be a challenging but very rewarding part of it! Be sure to savour every moment of your experience and enjoy yourself as much as you can!