Are you wasting your time studying masters abroad? #MyReflection
Some people think that study abroad is like a year-long holiday but in fact it is more than just your Instagram feed full of incredible pictures and stories. What looks like a celebrity lifestyle on a smartphone screen has, in fact, many profound benefits on students who opt in to pack their bags and move across the pond.
Many different types of research have been conducted which concluded positive effects on students who embraced internationalization. In this article, I will share a few of my personal reasons why I decided to continue my education at masters level, particularly in Hong Kong, and the effects this decision had had on my life.
My Reason 1 — It’s all about your skills
Moving out from your family home to study and live independently is one thing. You might have already done it during your bachelor’s degree and let’s all agree, it is a huge leap into adulthood. Now try traveling and living on our own in a foreign country! It might look like a very intimidating experience at first but it teaches you a lot of life skills which you can not learn from any books.
A few of the skills I mastered due to my many international experiences are adaptability, problem-solving and communication skills. When you move to a new country, you need to start your life from scratch, find accommodation, open a bank account, register with doctors, and deal with many government bodies. Every country will have its own set of challenges, from language to different customs and regulations. In addition, yes study abroad can be expensive, so in my case, I also needed to find a job every time I moved somewhere to support myself!
Without parents at hand to guide you, life can be a little more difficult without a doubt, but it does develop many soft skills that will help you become a well-rounded individual. I can promise you one thing, if you move abroad once, nothing else will feel like a too big challenge to overcome anymore. Most of your prior problems will become trivial as you polish your “survival” skills and you will be able to fully navigate through life like a true adult. There is no better feeling than having that full independence you craved from your early teens.
My Reason 2 — Fun, new perspective and friends for life
The most beautiful thing you can have in life are true friends. I always underestimated how important true friendship is to me. And if not due to study abroad I would never meet my best friend Zack who I first met during my study exchange.
Experiencing new cultures is invaluable and doing it during your master’s program enables you to make long lasting friends with locals and other international students while having a considerable amount of time to fully experience host country culture.
Personally, I’ve never been to Asia before and this opportunity to live, study and work here for the next year provides me with a unique insight into this fascinating place. Learning about different customs and ways of thinking helps me to be more open-minded, cooperative and adaptable. Among all of the countries I have visited so far, Hong Kong has been the most accommodating and welcoming. Here people are really interested in you, your international perspective and they will truly celebrate it. As an international, you have a great advantage here because of your different background and a different outlook on things. Reflecting on my life, I must admit that the best experiences, most fun and my memorable stories are from the time I was abroad, either in Hong Kong or during my study exchange in New York!
My Reason 3 — It’s a perfect chance for a new you!
New country, new people, new you! My third reason is quite personal, but I believe it is applicable to many young students. If you ever wanted to change something about yourself, but your existing environment is stopping you, moving abroad for a substantial amount of time will provide you with a fresh environment to accomplish it.
Think about it, no one knows you in the new country. Whatever is stopping you from being whom you want to be is gone. No one will tell you “Hey don’t be silly, stop, this isn’t who you are”. Study abroad is a fresh start, blank sheet of paper which you can fill in with new and positive experiences. So if you have always been shy, now is your chance to come out of the shell, want to run in student elections, go out and present in front of audience, or pitch your business idea to judges if you believe in your business idea. There is no better way to do it than during study abroad, far away from the old environment that might have been stopping you from moving on!
In my case, Hong Kong enabled me to find the right people to work on a startup idea. There is nothing more important than the right team. Somehow I find it much more easy to network here and influence people to join me. Most recently I had a chance to participate in an entrepreneurship competition for the first time. Even though our team did not win (although we came very very close), I gained a lot from this competition such as a team, confidence and experience! I cannot imagine my old self doing it in Poland back when I lived there, I was a different person. Study abroad enabled me to come out and challenge myself in this new environment to become a better person!
Reason 4 — Employability
Study after study finds that those with international experience have a better chance to secure employment after graduation and their salary prospects are much higher than those who don’t participate in any international activities. Certain countries might provide you with opportunities which are not available at home. I definitely can vouch for that!
Since the start of the academic year, almost every week there is a company coming to our campus to give us a recruitment talk, or we are given an opportunity to visits their offices. There are numerous competitions where you can test your skills and knowledge, not to mention entrepreneurship competitions and opportunities provided by places like Cyberport and Science Park! Big corporations value international candidates and business language is English hence Hong Kong is a perfect place to start your career and you can do it as a graduate if you choose to study here.
But you don’t need to start your career in Hong Kong to benefit from your decision to study masters abroad, employers at home will love the fact that you gone out of your comfort zone to finish a degree abroad. They recognize the skills you develop, the challenges you face and the perspectives you gain hence you will be in a favorable candidate. In today’s world, most companies, big and small have a degree of travel involved as part of the job description. We live in a very globalized world and the ability to move and travel confidently is a must rather than just a bonus!
I hope my reasons outlined above will help you make a decision if you are considering studying masters abroad. In closing, I just wanted to say that study abroad isn’t easy, but it is certainly a life-changing experience which is fun, rewarding and worth your investment, especially in Hong Kong!
This article is also available in Arabic language here.