Despite what its name suggests, study abroad is not just an opportunity to improve the mind and specialise yourself in a certain field. Studying abroad is, over and above, the chance to assimilate new self-lives and take in new cultural experiences.
In 2016, AFS Intercultural Programs, an international NGO that provides intercultural learning opportunities to people, has surveyed more than 5,000 students aged 13 to 18, from 27 countries, to find out that 6 out of 10 respondents have already taken “study abroad” into consideration.
Looking for a cultural experience
These younger millennials have a strong incentive to want to study abroad: they’re chasing down new cultural experiences. Daniel Obst, AFS CEO, says that “Gen Z students don’t just want to simply travel to other countries; they are looking for authentic experiences through the eyes of local people. These are the adventures and stories they want to experience and share with others.”
Young people from South America (57%), North America (72%), Europe (75%) and from the South-East of Asia (58%) are more interested in cultural expeditions than in academic odysseys. For them, study abroad is about living.
The study’s results are even more relevant as they bring a fresh insight into why young people choose to leave their home country to face the unknown. Driven by a thirst for cultural explorations, the next generation of professionals will be more likely to shape the world given this cosmopolitan mindset. After all, their main concern is to get to know the world – the very first step in bettering it.
Affordability remains an important matter. Still.
Granting all this, the study shows that those interested in building up their career have limited budgets in comparison with culture-aspirants, focused more on cross-cultural maturity than on academics. Around 19% of the correspondents affirmed that the living expenses within the chosen country wouldn’t pose any problems; however, for 12% of them – this would be a serious issue.
Their decision would be, of course, influenced by the country of choice (the most wanted ones were Australia, the UK and the US). Here, the country and hosting school’s reputation plays an important role alongside the country’s English-medium instruction. To this list, we must add any potential safety and security concern, sometimes even fear of isolation, homesickness or discrimination.
Since we are talking about millennials, it’s worth adding that advertising or student fairs don’t really weigh much in their decision.