7 February 2017

Why You Should Study Abroad (& My Experience)

Studying overseas in a foreign country may be one of the most beneficial experiences for a university student. I studied abroad in Germany 2015 and it was the greatest year of my life. I changed and developed so much as a person, I got to travel all through Europe and met so many incredible people along the way.
If you are thinking about going on an exchange- go for it! Here are five reasons why you should along with snippets of my own experience.

1. Experience a new way of life

You will have the opportunity to properly experience a new way of life.
You're not only visiting that new country and place- you are actually studying and living there, so you get to have that real experience.
You will take in a brand new culture and fully immerse yourself in it. You'll discover incredible new foods, customs and traditions of the locals. There's no better way to develop and learn language skills and get a better understanding and appreciation for the nation’s people and history.

Enjoying the delights of Germany!

I studied abroad in Konstanz (at Universität Konstanz) which is in the south of Germany, right on the border of Switzerland. The history of the medieval city astounded me- the first traces of civilisation dates back to the Stone Age!
The city was the most beautiful place I've ever been to- and I'm from New Zealand! Konstanz was one of the few towns left untouched during WW2 due to their close proximity to Switzerland, so the gorgeous Old Town with its incredible buildings and architecture all remain.
Konstanz sits on the crystal blue Bodensee (Lake Constance) of which the Rhine branches off and is surrounded by snow-capped Alps- it is such a magical place and I loved every second of my time there. I really enjoyed using German in every day life (most shop keepers didn't speak English) and learning the differences between southern Germany to the rest of the country.

The beautiful Lake Constance at sunset
Gorgeous architecture

2. You get to travel!

It's the perfect opportunity to see the world. Take that leap and dive into it headfirst!
You get the chance to explore your new country and travel to neighbouring countries as well, especially if you're studying in Europe and Asia with plenty right on your doorstep.

At Konstanz University we got the option to arrive a month before the semester started where we could do an intensive German language course (to get up to scratch- it really helped!) and had the opportunity to take part in loads of trips and activities organised by the university's fantastic international team.
I signed up for every single one and we started by exploring our new city and were taken on a historical walking tour of Konstanz. Throughout the month we visited across the lake to neighbouring Meersburg where we toured their 5th Century castle, to Reichenau, through the Black Forest to Freiburg- all nearby places in the state of Baden-Württemberg.

Seeing Neuschwantsein Castle was a dream come true!
Throughout the semester there were plenty of other organised excursions too, including hikes in Switzerland and Austria. My favourite was the trip to the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. I also managed to get away to Munich, Stuttgart and Berlin on days off with friends or by myself.

Internationally, we could literally walk to Switzerland in less than 10 minutes, and France and Austria were only a couple of hours drive away. I absolutely loved having all these countries on my doorstep!
I went to Switzerland (a lot), France, Italy, London and then travelled all over Europe for two months after the semester ended before heading home.

Feuersee and Johannes Church in Stuttgart

3. Personal development

Being on your own in a foreign country is something everyone should experience.
You will be faced with all sorts of challenges- a new living situation, education system, possible language barriers. But you will learn and overcome all of these, and find new interests you may not have been exposed to before.
Being in a new place by yourself might be out of your comfort zone, but it tests your ability to adapt to change and challenging situations which is a great life skill to have.

A new challenge for me university-wise was group work. That was definitely something I wasn't used to and hadn't experienced since maybe Year 9 (age 13).
Group work was required for almost every single paper and credit, so you had to heavily rely on your team and in turn not let them down (which was a lot of pressure!). However, I grouped with some brilliant and hard working German students and we all worked together very well, so I was quite lucky that we all pulled together and got top marks.

The view of Konstanz University

Travelling solo was completely new to me and it really helped my personal development.
Being totally independent and taking charge made me much more confident.
You learn a lot about yourself- what you like, what you don't like, and you get to do exactly what you want without pleasing anybody else. It's a wonderful and freeing feeling which is fantastic to experience.

Lake Constance with the Imperia statue and Alps in the background

4. Make lifelong friends

One of the best opportunities you get from studying abroad is meeting new people from all over the world. I met the most wonderful and kind-hearted people from Estonia, Belgium, Chile, Norway, Turkey, The United States, Sweden, Ukraine- the list goes on and on.
Not to mention the wonderful Germans who I found very friendly and excited to meet us as well. You're thrown into this exciting time with a great bunch of people who are in the same situation as you. You get to travel with them in your time off and have the opportunity to really get to know and create lasting relationships which is invaluable.

I am typically a pretty shy person and quite happy to keep to myself. But on my exchange I was determined to be more outgoing, make new friends and change my ways. I said yes to every invite and opportunity. I hung with my German classmates at BBQs, went on excursions and weekend trips, hung out and partied with my fellow internationals and made real friends whom I miss dearly! 

Regular hang-spot on the Rhine
Typical night out at the local club Berrys

5. Career opportunities

Studying abroad shows that you are driven, independent and open-minded.
When you finish your exchange program and return home, you'll return with a fresh new perspective on culture, language skills and education, all of which are very attractive to future employers.
Many students create ties with their host country and find they love it so much they decide to seek work there. A local experience and education will be very valuable when searching for a potential job in that country.

For me- it led to this very blog! I wrote a small blog for my friends and family while abroad about my adventures in Germany and Europe, and when I got home I missed writing (and travelling!) so much- that I decided to create a proper blog which ignited my dream of becoming a professional travel blogger. I've only been at it for less than a year now but I couldn't be happier pursuing my dream career and writing to inspire others to travel and live out their own dreams.

Gorgeous view from the Konstanz Münster

I look back on my student exchange so warmly and Konstanz will forever have a place in my heart. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to study there and I'm forever grateful to Victoria University of Wellington and the Baden-Württemberg scholarship for making it possible, and of course to Universität Konstanz for the fantastic semester and making us international students feel so welcome.

If you get the chance to go on a student exchange then I recommend it 100%! It will change your life, I guarantee it.

Have you studied abroad? If so where did you go and how did you find it?
If not- where would you like to go?

Happy travels,
Pin it! :)

*This post contains some images that are not my own.


  1. Love this post! I always wanted to go on an exchange, I'm quite sad I didn't. Sounds like your experience was so wonderful.

  2. Great post! I studied abroad for a semester in New York City and it was the best experience of my life! I would highly recommend studying abroad :)

    Ali | http://alibourke.com

  3. I loved your post! I am studying abroad in london this summer and your post made me so much more excited for my trip :)

  4. I never actually studied abroad, but I did take a trip to the Dominican Republic with my department in college and it was such a rewarding and memorable experience. Probably my favorite part of college!

  5. I never studied abroad, but I spent my early 20's working in both the US & Thailand. 35 now and though there are times I look at friends who got married/bought a house/had kids and think I wish I'd done that, as soon as the memories come back I'm glad I didn't.

    Learning how different cultures behave, tasting local cuisine and making new friends are all benefits, but also seeing how different countries act in business & customer service are life lessons that will never go away.

  6. Such beautiful pictures! Who's that with you in the castle picture?


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