You’re Finally an International Student!

Learn about the different opportunities you have to study abroad during high school and/or college.

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Learn about the different opportunities you have to study abroad during high school and/or college.

  Are you aching to gaze up at the historically renowned masterpieces of eastern hemispheric cities, or are you keen to live in and experience the culture of another country for a semester (or more)? If so, you should consider looking into study abroad programs at your college or university.  

  Sanderson’s Career Development Coordinator Traci Claiborne elaborates: “Study abroad is simply taking your learning on a ‘road trip’ to another country, usually for a semester or even up to a year!”

  The Institute of International Education reported that about 10.9% of undergraduate students, including those enrolled in a community college, study abroad at some point within their degree-attainment program. Over the course of more than 25 years, multiplicities of young adults are progressively beginning to take advantage of these once in a lifetime opportunities. 

  Apart from being able to enhance their educational journey and earn credits towards a degree, international students are able to see the world through new lenses. They are able to enrich their lives by venturing into new social and cultural atmospheres by sampling new foods, traditions, and customs. 

  “The semester I spent abroad in college was one of the most rewarding of my life,” expresses North Carolina resident Karen Palmero Bledsoe. “I lived with a host family who I still keep in touch with and I learned to see the world differently. I fell in love with the Spanish language and it made me appreciate different cultures.”

  Concurrently, Claiborne elucidates: “I encourage all students to add studying abroad to your college experience because it will broaden your global awareness, [and] help you learn or improve your foreign language skills as you’re immersed in the culture and must use the language to communicate and live.”

  In addition to learning the local vernacular, norms, values, customs, and appreciating the unique architecture—cultural cuisine and dietary habits are another aspect of a country’s culture you will be exposed to. Bledsoe expounds that you need to be open to trying new things and foods–especially if you are a picky eater–in order to “become immersed in the flavors of the culture.”

  Those who participate in global education initiatives take away meaningful relationships and gain confidence in who they are, as they are able to discover things about themselves that they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to. Venturers are also able to mature and grow into their own independent persons, as well as figure out their hidden interests and aptitudes. 

  Another aspect to consider is how studying abroad could influence your career opportunities. Employers will be interested and impressed with your experience and insight into other cultures, your developed language skills, and willingness to learn. All of these attractive factors will be an asset to you throughout your career and the rest of your life. 

 “I knew I wanted to speak another language and living in Costa Rica helped me to become fluent.” Bledsoe adds, “When I returned I spoke the language as much as possible and was assigned as the Spanish language reporter in my first career as a TV reporter.”

  Additionally, a plethora of students end up falling in love with their host countries and choose to find employment positions there. Keep in mind this inspirational quote, “As much as you want to plan your life, it has a way of surprising you with unexpected things that will make you happier than you originally planned.”

  When asked about the best advice she could give, Borderless Friends Forever Executive Director and Founder Crystal Allis comments, “If someone is going to study abroad do so with as few expectations as you can. Let the road of your experience take you where it goes and be open to change.”

  While college study abroad programs are an excellent opportunity for young adults, what about those who are anxious to embrace international education sooner? Exchange Programs are available for high school students as well who want to travel and build remarkable relationships with their host families. 

  Borderless Friends Forever is a non-profit organization that works to “promote world peace through cultivating opportunities for cultural and educational exchanges,” as described by Allis. “We bring the international traveler and the host family together to create meaningful relationships through which we celebrate our differences and similarities.”

  When asked about what the advantages of participating in the program are, Allis explains, “It helps prepare one for dealing with conflicts across cultural boundaries” and “It teaches patience, for oneself and others.” Most significantly, she states: “It teaches how to get along with those that are different [from] us, but also brings home the realization that even though we have differences, we share a lot of similarities as human beings.”

  Bledsoe illustrates her and her family’s story with study abroad and exchange programs:


“My interest in traveling and meeting people from other countries

started at a young age when I met a French and Swedish student 

studying abroad at my high school. I actually still keep in touch 

with them today through Facebook! My family also hosted an 

exchange student from Italy a few years ago. I can honestly say 

that her family is now our family. We have visited them many 

times, which is another example of how enriching the exchange 

process can be.”


  No matter which route you choose, your experience will be priceless. “Think of your interests, or just spin the globe and pick a place. I guarantee that the world will become much smaller after you immerse yourself in another culture,” solidifies Bledsoe.