Going anywhere abroad to study could be a big change for some people, both in a positive way and a negative one as well. But in the end, it changes an individual and, eventually, helps evolve your personality.
From frivolous things like food choices to notable changes like communication skills and confidence, a lot of things develop for a person when living in a new country. Foreign universities tend to focus more on practical and experiential teaching, thereby leading to a wholesome development.
You may be amazed at how much more than “just” language skills you take home after studying abroad. Most of your gains will fall under the category of “soft skills” and they are among the most crucial skills that employers look for in an employee.
So what are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are those skills that help you get through life better and get on with people. The intangible skills are more likely to come from life experience than any kind of formal training.
Now you might be thinking, that the topic speaks about gaining 23 soft skills when studying abroad, but are there any 1 particular important skill among them all?
The answer will NO! All the soft skills are as important as the others.
Let me tell you why,
Studying abroad will remit certain hard skills; particularly the language skills that are so valuable in the contemporary world. But the experience of learning surrounded by another culture will influence you more profoundly than the development of your vocabulary.
Here are 23 soft skills that have been divided into 4 categories that will get the rough living and studying overseas:
I.Interpersonal Skills or “People Skills”
1. Listening Skills – These are absolutely central to your experience, both inside and outside the classroom. It takes more time to process a foreign language, which makes you think harder about what you listen to and how you respond to it. In your mother tongue, you may sometimes find yourself expressing a response in your mind as opposed to really listening to your conversation partner… studying a new language will make you reflect on that.
2. Speaking Skills – Speaking a different language not only augments your ability to speak the language you are studying but will also give you another panorama of your own language. How does it feel when people speak too quickly or use jargon with you? You may well learn to be more detailed in your language, which is an essential communication skill.
3. Cultural Understanding – Studying overseas gives you the chance to get under the skin of another culture in a way that solely traveling does not. The language is your way in. Your school and your everyday activity will show you how many conventionalities or cultures are simply distinctive elsewhere.
4. Multicultural Engagement – Even learning about the local culture, you will engage and study with people from all over the world. Working with different people is an essential soft skill in the modern business world.
5. Empathy and the ability to relate to others – Seeing more of the world can help you acknowledge that, wherever you happen to have been born, people are all eventually passed by the same basic emotions.
6. Patience – Patience is required for studying a language, but also for finding your way in a different country and their culture.
7. Teamwork – Modernized language teaching includes lots and lots of small group activities. Working on a task in a new language with people who do not share your mother tongue is a truly challenging and rewarding way to develop your teamwork skills. You don’t have to be fond of everyone, but you do have to work together… just like any other job.
II. Mental skills
8. Creative Problem-Solving – When you are outside of your comfort zone, often surrounded by people who can’t speak your mother tongue, you will have to get creative to solve problems.
9. Multidisciplinary Thinking – This is a huge theme in the 21st century and language teaching is a solid example of multidisciplinary thinking. A session may teach you about a specific piece of grammar or area of vocab, but it will do that through several topics and activities. A class about a specific grammatical structure could take the form of a group debate, a game, a listening task, or a mock job interview, for example; very different appearances to the same core learning.
III. Practical skills
10. Self-Management – Your language school will help you as much as possible and give you a “soft landing” in a new country, but it’s ultimately up to you to make the most of your time and organize your life.
11. Self-Discipline – Nobody is going to push you to wake up in the morning and go to your language class, just as nobody is going to force you to do your homework. But you will notice that the students who do these things will make the most active progress.
12. Presentation Skills – Once you have spoken in front of a group in a different language, presenting in your mother tongue will not seem nearly as intimidating.
13. Writing Skills – When was the last time you actually focussed on how you write?
14. Coaching & mentoring skills – A good teacher can be just as inspirational in adulthood as in childhood. The exception is that adults can identify what makes the teacher good and take this with, alongside the language skills.
IV. Personality traits
15. Self-Confidence – It takes self-belief to speak to strangers in a new language and you will be fascinated by how welcoming people are when you try and speak their language. This confidence will come home with you.
16. Perseverance – Learning to think and speak a new language is a challenging, but worthwhile, process.
17. Responsibility – Living in another country, you will be away from your friends and family. It is up to you to re-build a comfort zone and make things work on your own.
18. Ambition – See more of the world and you may be clearer about what you want in life… and how to get it.
19. Initiative – This is an incredibly valuable soft skill. Unless you are really, really, insanely good-looking, things just do not fall into your lap; you need the initiative to make things happen. Without your usual network around you, taking the initiative is imperative when living in a different place.
20. Integrity – Can integrity be learned? Meeting new people from around the globe gives you an opportunity to reflect on what you value in people.
21. Emotional balance – One of the more delightful things about speaking in a foreign language is that you are more likely to think before you open your mouth reducing the chances of speaking out something you might later regret.
22. Flexibility – Things work differently in different cultures and you will need to be adaptable to succeed. You don’t have to love how things work elsewhere, but you do have to adapt. The ability to deal with complicated or surprising situations will serve you well in life.
23. Maturity – Combine all of the traits above and this is what you get. Maturity – Combine all of the traits above and this is what you get.