Study abroad

'To take a degree in a foreign country with a foreign language and a foreign culture is a decision of either great madness or great courage.' Discuss.

To study abroad is a dream for almost every student and migration of international students starts to increase, especially nowadays in an era of globalisation, because this era is the 'individual's ability to globalize', according to Friedman (2005). Studying abroad is a 'life-changing' experience and a challenge in an international environment. Although many will argue that taking a degree in a foreign country with a foreign language and foreign culture is a decision of madness, this essay will argue that an international experience beyond financial constrains, academic achievement in a foreign language across linguistic difficulties, and independence and self-confidence passing cultural barriers gained by students involves courage.

Due to internationalisation of educational system, especially nowadays in a global market, the study abroad develops an international view, experience and attitude which may help students to cultivate , as Paul Human Ecology's Study Abroad (2002) adviser said, "the knowledge, skills and attitudes that prepare them for global citizenship". Moreover, an international experience may gives them international perspectives and increase their marketability on market jobs. These may conduct to intrapersonal development such as the maturation process and personal development outcomes such as career benefits and global-mindedness because are a result of studying abroad experience. However, the dream to study abroad can not be achieved by all because is costly and it is widely believed that is an opportunity for students with scholarship and exchange students, but even for those is necessary a financial support. In their way towards acquiring international experience, it seems that students cope with financial problems which may have a negative impact on academic performance and time-management. A study realized on foreign students has showed that they are concerned about financial problems which may affect their capability to concentrate on gaining knowledge by study (Robertson 2000). They need to generate an income and very often an option, not always easy, is the bank loan which determine students to be engaged in employment to pay their debts while studying.

During their period of paid employment students have less time for leisure time, to access the library and academic staff members, and the stress involved in time-management may reduce the general levels of satisfaction with their lives' (Applegate & Daly, 2006).

Generally, it is argue that study abroad is 'a terrific way to increase foreign language skills' accordingly with Limburg-Weber (99/2000) and represents for international students the more effective way to learn and speak a foreign language that they have already begun to study. In comparison with students learning at home in their first language, language proficiency may give to foreign students an important advantage over them. However, language proficiency gained presumes a 'long way' with numerous difficulties until students achieve it. An academic achievement in a foreign language has determined foreign students to confront with linguistic difficulties and requires language support. The language difficulties represent an important issue for them, because they are coming from different countries, and have different backgrounds and levels of understanding. Several research projects have realized at Curtin University of Technology, Australia, on students whose English is the second language, and based on questions of their English necessities almost all have agreed that may need support in 'all four macro-skills: reading, listening, speaking and writing. Furthermore, they have been founded writing skill the most difficult, especially for essays, as well as difficulties in comprehension of lectures (Briguglio 2000). An academic achievement in a foreign language might gives them motivation and power to pass these difficulties.

An experience in a foreign culture may helps foreign students to become independence and self-confidence, and may gives them a better understanding of their own cultural beliefs, values and biases. Furthermore, it gives them new knowledge, cross-cultural skills and adaptability to develop a 'more sophisticated way of looking at the world' (Dwyer & Peters, 2004) with intercultural benefits. Despite of these intercultural and personal outcomes, students have faced with inevitable stresses to pass cultural barriers and they need courage to face its. In their challenge and fight towards independence and self-confidence, foreign students have faced with culture shock and need counselling support to pass cultural barriers. Numerous studies have discussed that foreign students may have faced a cultural shock such as loneliness, social isolation, racism, mental health and adaptation problems; they feel lost, alone and discriminately in a new culture as a result of changes in personal life (Chien-Wen, 2005). Some of students have used counselling services, because their academic performance or well-being was affected by emotional stress (Hyun et al., 2007). These studies show that this issue needs to be taken into consideration and cross-cultural trainings are necessary to prepare and help students.

In conclusion, although some consider that study abroad is madness, students need courage to pass financial and linguistic difficulties, and cultural barriers to acquire international experience, academic achievement in a foreign language, and independence and self-confidence. Nowadays, in globalisation era, the study abroad may become just a selling point in the international educational market presented only with future benefits and without to take into consideration 'the hidden side' of it. The future students need to be prepare and informed prior their departure that their 'journey' is sprinkle with difficulties, and to get much more counselling services, language and government financial support.

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