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Why go abroad?

The reasons to spend a summer, semester or year abroad vary significantly from person to person, and you should consider your personal, academic, and professional goals and motivations. Study abroad should not be a parenthesis in your life, but rather an experience that shapes and influences your future. 

Studying in a foreign country represents a significant enhancement to your Columbia education. Study abroad expands the walls of the institution and offers you the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in the larger global community of which we all take part. Students engaged in international study discover insights into other cultures, develop new perspectives, and learn to reflect on how their own culture has shaped their understanding of the world. 


Students who go abroad often gain a new perspective on their academic pursuits. The host country may engage with your major or concentration in a different way than your professors and peers here at Columbia. In class discussions, you will be exposed to an entirely different viewpoint than on a US-based campus. 

Leaving campus can be an invaluable step in your education. Breaking free from routine and taking classes in a foreign country with a different culture, language, and educational system, can reinvigorate your curiosity and enthusiasm for academia.  Many students return to Columbia with renewed passion for their educational pursuits, often expanding their academic interests by pursuing another major or concentration, identifying a topic of interest for a thesis, learning about opportunities for graduate programs or post-graduate fellowships, or furthering language study. 

Cognitively, students who spend time in a foreign culture and/or immerse themselves in a foreign language, gain creative problem solving skills, which will increase your ability to look at problems from a wider variety of perspectives, skills that are useful not only for academic pursuits, but professional as well.


Study abroad can increase your marketability through the development of several important skills in the current job market. When students return from study abroad they report increased:
  • Foreign language proficiency
  • Intercultural communication
  • Creative problem solving
  • Adaptability
  • Flexibility
  • Networking skills
  • Motivation
  • Initiative
Gaining the skills is only half the battle! We encourage you to work with CCE to help you articulate the professional skills that you have gained on your resume, cover letter, and in interviews.


Almost every student, after returning from abroad indicates that they feel significantly more independent and self-reliant than they did before the study abroad experience.  Every day experiences in a new country, culture, and language can be challenging and confusing. Overcoming those day-to-day challenges, increases your confidence and ability to adapt to new situations, valuable life skills for both during and after your time here at Columbia.

Study abroad can be an intensive experience that fosters life-long friendships. Those friendships can be with local students, your homestay family, or even other international students who you meet throughout your time abroad.  Sharing the unique experience of a semester abroad bonds people quickly, and helps you create a global social network.