Since I’ve moved away from the UK for a semester to study abroad, there are lots of things which I both did and didn’t expect in my new home. Living in the Netherlands is quite different from life at uni as I know it back in England, but this is an incredibly positive thing for many reasons.

For those of you considering a study abroad, here are my top 5 reasons you should go ahead with your plans:

1. Language

It’s the opportunity to put into practice those dusty old French tenses or German slang words. There is no better place to put into practice a language than somewhere it is spoken all of the time. Whilst English is usually available, you have the option to try something new first hand and acquire a useful skill as a result.

2. Unique Specialisation

The modules taught in universities around the world differ in variety. Currently a field I am fascinated by is Dutch history because it’s so underrated and here too I can learn from teachers who grew up in different parts of the Netherlands. Hearing their opinions, and more on another culture, means I have a unique and niche element to my specialisation as a degree student.

3. Friendships

There are so many friendly faces all eager to introduce themselves and share their stories. I think it’s an important thing to note that you learn as much from your friends when in higher education as you do from your lecturers. The books they recommend and their views make for interesting conversation and ongoing debate which opens up so many new ideas.

Plus, I never would have met half of these amazing people I know if it hadn’t been for the opportunity to study abroad.

4. Comfort Zone

It isn’t all blue skies and daisies – if I tried to tell you that, I would be lying. Being in a new country on your own for the first time does have its pitfalls. For instance, you’re not around your family all of the time and you have to adapt very quickly to a bunch of new things. But again, this can be incredibly useful.

By learning to be versatile in your approach to life in general, your academic skill also improves vastly (particularly when it comes to organisation). Learning to stand on my own two feet outside of my comfort zone means that I am building up my ability to function as a fully independent human.

5. International Perspective

Lastly, the sum of all of the above is the most amazing thing; An international perspective. This benefits everyone around you as well as yourself because you will have something fresh to contribute to conversation.

There will be things you know about the world that you never could have found out without experiencing them in person. The you that returns home will always be slightly changed, not quite the same, but with a wider outlook.