What does “study abroad” mean to you? These are tremendous opportunities for your future career. This is what the majority will answer. But we believe that now, in the 21st century, it is just mega important to gain international experience, as it shapes you as a person.
As a three-time Au-Pair participant, I can confidently say that studying in an “international class” will provide you with the opportunity to raise your consciousness and understanding of other cultures, promote critical thinking and help you develop an understanding of many points of view.
It is worth adding that studying abroad forms financially independent, responsible and organized people. You manage your time yourself, you plan your actions and you are your own accountant. And if you are a bad accountant, then you learn to become the best, because you have an important client – you!
What is “academic growth” and how to get it?
You know, no matter where you work or where you study, when you find yourself in that international environment, you understand that the most important lessons are taught outside your office, university or school.
For example, I learned English better by communicating with friends in the Netherlands as an au-pair than by sitting for hours reading books in Ukraine. I realized how much I like art and what is its essence after seeing those incredible paintings in galleries. I began to notice the stunning architecture and pay attention to the smallest beautiful details that adorn balconies or windows.
You can surf the Internet for hours and watch vivid pictures of countries, but this is simply nothing compared to the cool emotions that you will feel when you see everything with your own eyes. I wanted to jump, squeak and scream with delight!
Sitting in a tidy classroom with a blackboard and a lot of materials that you study is good of course. But, if you want to develop comprehensively, this is not enough. Outside the classroom window is the real world, exactly that real school that will give you incredibly useful knowledge and experience. There you will meet people of different ages, nationalities and cultural levels. It is in the real world that you get the chance to use what you learn in class. This is real academic growth.
How to become independent?
What is adulthood? This is independence, self-organization, responsibility, self-confidence. And who is a student in Ukraine? This is the person who goes to class, comes home, reheats the food prepared by mom and goes to have fun with friends. And who is a student studying abroad? This is an independent and responsible person who has a scheduled day by the hour and he knows that no one can do this or that for him. And this is by no means a homebody student who needs to do household chores and cram books. He is an active student, he knows that he has 2 hours for home organization and 3 hours for study, because tomorrow he and his friends are going to another country for the weekend.
Sounds cool, even romantic, doesn’t it? But this kind of self-organization is not so easy. And you, even reading this article, will not be able to fully understand what it is. You will understand this when you become that active student who is studying abroad under the Au-Pair program.
Only then your brain will study hard every day, memorize and make mistakes (how could it be without them). Every day you will make important decisions for you, you will think rationally as much as possible, you will “absorb” a new language, culture, create new habits and get used to new conditions.
Now all the romance has gone somewhere, right? It doesn’t sound so fun and interesting anymore. But, believe me, you can do it! And you will be simply shocked by how you will change for the better. In a short period of time, you will get the academic Au-Pair experience that others get over the course of several years or even throughout their life.
About the familiar street outside the window
Do you have any idea how big the world is? Do you understand that outside the window of your house there is not only a familiar street with people you know? There is an incredibly large and interesting world filled with different experiences, entertainment and opportunities.
And do you know what mistake you’re making? You limit your worldview by sitting at home and looking only at a familiar street.
As soon as I stepped outside my street and saw Europe, my eyes opened! I saw the headlines of their newspapers, heard their news, saw other people and began to understand how they perceive Ukraine and the rest of the world.
I formed my own opinion based on what I saw with my own eyes, I communicated with people, I merged into their culture not through the computer screen, but on my own.
The more outlooks on life you have, the more educated your views and decisions become. Studying in a global environment, you get acquainted with new views on everyday affairs and global problems, you begin to understand the importance of differences and develop the ability to make more informed decisions on your own.
Therefore, think carefully, do you want to continue to see the familiar street from your window, or see a new world?