For almost all your childhood, your main responsibility is studying; studying to pass exams, studying to be promoted to the next grade, studying to ensure you possess the basic educational tools that are going to get you somewhere (anywhere) in life. However, what most people don’t realize is the most important studying doesn’t event happen in the classroom.

Life experience is so important! And whether you’re aware or not, you get the most studying done out in the real world. Since the day you’re born, you study the people around you–what they look like, sound like, act like in a variety of situations. You learn how to navigate daily life in your own home, communities, on the playground, at church, and just about anywhere! So, why are some people inclined to think that studying is limited to the classroom? And why aren’t more people pushing the barriers on where and how we study? Here are 7 great reasons to participate in a study abroad program.

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Expand Your Horizons and Career Opportunities

International experience is a surefire way to catch an employer’s interest on a resume. The ample amount of learning that takes place abroad can help an individual develop unique skills for the workplace. Your exposure to different cultures and languages will definitely help build leadership, communication, organization, planning, and team building skills needed to successfully navigate a new country–and a new company!

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Cross-Cultural Friendships

Studying abroad puts you on the fast track for developing relationships with others–and those others will come from all over the world. With only a few weeks in a given country, you learn that making friends happens quickly. Sooner than later, your social scene will be buzzing with new names and faces that can become some of the closest friends you have. And you never know when you might find yourself traveling and looking to link with a familiar face.

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Learn a New Language

Talk about adding an important skill to your resume! The need for bilingual candidates has more than doubled in 5 years, and those who speak more than one language are making bigger bucks than those who don’t. Learning a new language is one of the top benefits of studying abroad and immersing yourself in the culture and language will help you to not only learn, but use it so it sticks! Market this skill on an interview and you can be sure to impress, because more languages equals more business and every employer knows it.

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Build Confidence and Independence

It’s hard not to gain your independence when mom and dad aren’t just a knock or phone call away. Whether you’re planning the logistics of a daytime excursion, getting lost in translation with the locals, or navigating the streets of your new neighborhood without the help of Google Maps, being abroad will have you relying on yourself to solve your most difficult problems; and solving them successfully will double as a confidence boost! Because if you can figure it out abroad, you can definitely figure it out at home.

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You Will Regret It If You Don’t

You don’t want to be the person who always wonders “what if…”. What if you took the opportunity to study abroad, how might your life be different? Don’t just wonder, find out! Don’t let fear get in your way of truly learning what life can offer; maybe a new job opportunity, the chance to taste the most delicious unidentifiable food you can imagine, or the best friend you never knew you needed. Unfortunately, the realization of regret only happens once the opportunity has passed. It still isn’t too late to enroll….

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Memories and Learning Lasts a Lifetime

Good or bad, your memories and experiences will last a lifetime, and you will certainly learn from them! Studying abroad makes you a more well-rounded person who can speak on certain subject matters with confidence and authority, teach others things you learned while abroad, and solidify your belief that learning and education are not synonymous with “school”, but with life.

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You Get to Travel a Lot!

Different from the traditional 1 week vacation, being abroad settles you into a new country with various cities and new destinations. While studying during the week, traveling can happen on the weekends, or after class. Whether you choose to explore the hottest attractions in Costa Rica, or cross the border into Chile from Peru, the options are endless! And the more you travel, the more you can hone those new skills, and share with your new friends.

So, what are you waiting for? Leave daydreaming for the classroom and start living your dreams abroad while getting credit for the same classes, and learning a new language in process!