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Student preparing to travel to new country to study

Is Getting a Degree Outside Your Home Country Right for You?

Posted December 04, 2018 by Mariia Khilkovskaia - MBA Candidate - University of South Florida Muma College of Business

As an international student from Russia studying in the United States, I know firsthand how hard it is to take the first step to decide to leave your home country. Studying abroad may sound intimidating, but it is worth it. I have always wanted to explore the world, and an international education program gave me the opportunity not only to live in a foreign country for a while but also to get my degree. Currently, I am an international graduate student at the University of South Florida Muma College of Business. Throughout my experiences, I have gained many insights into education abroad, and hopefully they will help inform your decision about whether study abroad is right for you.

1. Education doesn't have a time limit, but studying abroad might be better earlier in your journey.

It is never too late to start your educational journey, no matter your age or what phase of life you are in. The importance of lifelong learning continues to grow stronger each year, and more and more people today are considering continuing their education even if they have been out of school for a long time. Education is something that can be accessed almost anytime and anywhere in your life—with big thanks to globalization, technology, and the internet. Study abroad, while not completely limited, is often more accessible while completing traditional undergraduate or graduate degrees.

By exploring the world, learning a new language, and getting an education in a foreign school, you can develop important global qualities and become more open-minded, more tolerant of others, and more self-aware. Also, after an education abroad experience, you have the advantage of better understanding where in the world you want to work and live—whether you prefer to stay in your home country or relocate to a different place. In my opinion, the world is too big and interesting to spend your whole life in one place!

2. International education helps you learn more about yourself.

Education abroad has opportunities that can change you in ways other forms of education cannot. Being on your own in a foreign country is an experience that can take you completely out of your comfort zone, and through those experiences you may learn more about yourself. Your problem-solving skills, communication, performance under pressure, and even survival skills will be tested and, through constant use, even improve. You don’t think about transportation issues or your food preferences when you are in your hometown as much because you know how everything works, as you have been doing the same routine for years. However, when you are alone in a different part of the world, you start noticing all the differences and small details in everything from going to the grocery store to paying rent. All of your routines change or shift and you become more familiar with what you are actually good at and what you need to do to improve yourself.

3. Different country, different education system.

I always like to compare my curriculum in the U.S. with my friends who are studying at home in Russia. Many business schools in Russia are working toward international accreditation and recognition, and their goal of achieving and maintaining high-quality education is a similar aspect to that of U.S. schools that I’ve encountered. However, from my perspective the teaching style, as well as the journey to graduation, is very different in the U.S. from what I have experienced in my home country. I consider education in my home country more theory-based. Students study more literature, write theses, and take classes that are similar to the U.S. PhD-level courses, in regard to research and ideologies. In the U.S., on the other hand, I have experienced more practice-based curriculum, with internship requirements, work on real-world case studies, and in-person interactions with business professionals.

Other educational aspects like grading systems and length of the semester are also different. Despite all these differences, I believe that when you are exposed to new perspectives on life, education, and culture, you become a better individual and a better global professional. By the time you return home or begin your career in a new location, you will be a different person with a globalized mindset. Such exposure to different education systems is always an advantage in today’s world and, the more you know and learn, the more valuable you become in the workforce and society.

It takes some time to get used to something new, whether it is climate, language, or people’s mentalities. By the end of your international education journey, you will have a collection of experiences that help you understand how you can put your best self forward. Your experience will differ from those of your classmates and friends, but it will provide opportunities for you to answer many questions you might have about yourself.

Of course, when putting yourself into an unknown situation, some adjustment issues exist; but there will be tools available to help you along the way and in building a support system, whether that is your family and friends at home, or new connections you’ve made, you can increase your confidence in experiencing a successful international education journey.

Mariia Khilkovsokaia PhotoMariia Khilkovskaia is an international student from Moscow, Russia. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor of arts in mass communications. Currently, she is a member of the University of South Florida Muma College of Business’s 2020 MBA cohort. She is also pursuing masters of science in marketing and specializes in supply chain management and data analytics.