Interning abroad for any period of time facilitates an understanding of the world outside of your country and maximizes growth both personally and professionally. It strengthens your CV and opens new career opportunities in your chosen field. But outside of the professional world, interning or training abroad brings a host of other benefits.
A Better Understanding of Culture
Research done by Bamford and Mizokawa on attitudinal outcomes of learning a second language found that those who learned Spanish were far more receptive to Mexican-American culture than those who didn’t. In another study by Riestra and Johnson, the same experiment was conducted with students grade 5, delivering similar results.
Even if we ignore the studies for a moment, being exposed to a different culture is just cool. Having the opportunity to explore society through its native tongue or talk to someone with whom you might otherwise never be able to communicate is an amazing experience. Not only that, it topples stigmas or misconceptions you might have had about the country you’re visiting.
Americans write their dates backward, operate on 12-hour days, buy groceries in bulk, and use the metric system, among other things. While odd at first, you may find some American customs more convenient and adapt over the course of your stay.
Conversely, you may find personal space somewhat cold, or needing to tip (something that is automatically added to the bill in other countries) a little weird.
Either way, you are bound to take back knowledge of new customs, whether or not they become an integral part of your life!
There are many benefits to being bilingual; Improved learning capabilities, attention to detail, and conflict management to name a few. What you may not know, however, is that the benefits of bilingualism extend all the way to old age. This is due in large part to the competition we face when speaking. Bilingualism creates a conflict in the brain, where we might be unable to name something as quickly as someone who is monolingual. To manage this, we create control mechanisms to “shut out” the other language temporarily. That, in turn, strengthens the brain’s attention and inhibition.
Essentially, the more speak in your second language, the stronger those brain regions are going to become.
“It’s not what you know, but who you know.”
The race is no longer won by the strong or the swift, and success isn’t freely given to the worthy. Opportunity and advancement are garnered by developing, and maintaining, an extensive network of prominent influencers. While such a feat is possible purely through the internet, there is still no better form of communication than a face-to-face interaction.
During your internship abroad, you will make connections with your host employer, other interns, and leaders within your industry. Take advantage of these relationships and stay in touch even after you’ve returned home!
Living abroad will connect you to your country of choice in a way that is hard to achieve from home. The experience will develop a sense of how people in your host country think and feel on an individual level.
Upon returning home, you’ll often find that news about a previous faraway place now strikes a more personal chord. You’ve been to and made friends with people who live in these places, and as a result, feel a sense of belonging.
An internship is life-changing, but above all else, it should be fun. It is an undertaking of massive proportions and should be enjoyed in full. Take the time to explore as much as you can; try foods you’ve never had, get lost in the city, learn new skills, or see some breathtaking sights.
Whatever you do, just have fun.
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