Commitment: Short-term Exchange Study Abroad vs. Long-term Study Abroad

In higher education, there is a trend for students to study abroad. After reading a lot about reasons to study abroad, I agreed on the following ones based on my personal experience.

  1. Learning language.
  2. Getting a break from academic routine.
  3. Improving communication skills.
  4. Getting to know another culture first-hand.
  5. Helping to learn about myself.
  6. Operating outside of defined comfort zones.
  7. Fostering independence.
  8. Providing a refined view of the future.

For my personal experience, I have done half a year exchange study abroad in 2013 and now I am in my doctoral study abroad. Even though I did both of those in the same higher education institution, which should feel like the same environment and same experience. Actually, I feel my experience in these two time-period were quite different.

For learning language, improving communication skills and getting to know another culture first-hand are more effective when I stay for a lone-term study abroad. But even just the half a year study abroad really helped me in learning about myself by getting me out of my comfort zone and fostering my independence. That also shaped my view of the future, that was the reason I decided I want to do lone-term study abroad. Through the time I was doing my short-term exchange study abroad, I started to realize I want to experience more of studying abroad and I want to actually pursue a degree in the abroad environment.

Commitment is the biggest difference I see between short-term exchange study abroad and long-term study abroad. When I did the short-term exchange study abroad, I committed to a lower level and got a break from academic routine, so the whole experience was more like an adventure trying to feel more and see more. The result of the study period is not as important as the learning process. However, it was changed when I came back for the doctoral study, since I committed to myself, to the university that I would get a doctoral degree. That motivated my long-term study into a more effective way. I valued the study results as much as the study process, so it actually helped me to do better during the study process.

In summary, I think the long-term study abroad motivate people more than short-term exchange study abroad because of the higher commitment level. Short-term exchange study abroad still helps with learning language, improving communication skills, getting to know another culture first-hand, learning about oneself, fostering independence and providing a refined view of the future. So if you get a chance to study abroad, no matter short term or long term, I will say go do it.

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