10 Ways Study Abroad Leads to Happiness

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Jill Kruidenier
March 20, 2014

March 20th is the International Day of Happiness, a holiday recognized by all 193 member states of the United Nations, celebrating happiness as a fundamental human goal.

According to the website for The Day of Happiness, “people are now recognizing that ‘progress’ should be about increasing human happiness and wellbeing, not just growing the economy.” We at IES Abroad could not agree more!

Here are 10 ways study abroad contributes to the Ten Keys to Happier Living:

  1. Giving
    Studying abroad is a gift you give yourself, an investment in your future, and an unmatched experience that will redefine you in countless ways. But it’s also a chance to give to others, especially within the host community in which you are living and studying. Between volunteer, service learning, and internship opportunities, you won’t be hard-pressed to find ways to give your time and energy while studying abroad.
  1. Relating
    One of the most valuable benefits of study abroad is the development of intercultural competence—in other words, the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately with people of other cultures. Through immersive housing options and partnerships with local universities, you will have ample opportunities to connect with local people.
  2. Exercising
    Just because you’re in another country doesn’t mean you have to give up your workout! You can easily stay active while studying abroad by joining a local gym or sports club. At the very least, a brisk walk, jog, or bike ride through the streets of your host city will help you learn your way around and discover new neighborhoods.
  3. Appreciating
    If there’s one thing we consistently hear from students who study abroad, it’s how much they learned to appreciate their surroundings, friends, independence, and experiences (whatever they may be), while studying abroad. Take the time to reflect on all that you have to be grateful for.
  4. Trying Out
    Stepping outside your comfort zone is sure to present you with new and exciting things to try, whether it’s a local delicacy, native dance, holiday, or way of dress. Trying new things leads to self-discovery and confidence, as well as an understanding for another culture’s values and norms.
  5. Direction
    Maybe you leave with a different idea of the career trajectory you’ll take, or a newfound commitment to fluency in a foreign language. Sometimes finding yourself begins with getting lost, and there’s no better place to do so than across the globe.
  6. Resilience
    Most students who have studied abroad will admit that, just like at home, not every day is perfect. If there’s one constant, however, it’s growth. Taking chances, making mistakes, and learning from them will all help you become a more resilient person.
  7. Emotion
    Being able to express your emotions—confusion, excitement, joy, uncertainty—to your friends, family, or on-site staff, will be an important contributor to your happiness, now and in the future.

  8. Acceptance
    Learning to accept new ways of thinking and viewing the world is a gradual process that is enhanced by studying abroad. Accepting differences and embracing ambiguity will ultimately make the world a more peaceful place.
  9. Meaning
    Studying abroad won’t necessarily reveal life's meaning, but it will help you see how small the world is, and just how interconnected we all are. Contribute to your own and others’ happiness by making your time abroad as meaningful as possible.

What are you waiting for? Bring on the happiness.

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Jill Kruidenier

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