Study Abroad and US Students: Opportunities for Success

Study abroad programs have long been hailed as transformative experiences, enriching students’ personal and professional growth by exposing them to new cultures, ideas, and challenges. But what do students themselves think about the impact of these programs on their lives and careers? A recent report by Terra Dotta sheds light on this question in the USA, revealing the profound significance students attribute to study abroad experiences and highlighting areas where improvements are needed to enhance accessibility.

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Recognizing the Importance of Study Abroad

According to Terra Dotta’s survey, conducted in winter 2024 and encompassing 258 students interested in or having participated in study abroad programs, nearly 90 percent of respondents view study abroad as either somewhat or very important for their personal and professional development. Among those who have already taken part in such programs (half in summer programs such as those organized by SpaCIE), more than half described the experience as very important. This underscores the widespread recognition among students of the value that studying abroad brings to their lives.

Key Skills and Transformative Experiences

Participants in study abroad programs identified a range of skills gained during their time abroad that they believe will be invaluable for their future careers. Adaptability and resilience topped the list, followed closely by cross-cultural communication and problem-solving in new and unfamiliar situations. Moreover, the impact of study abroad extends beyond skill acquisition; over 80 percent of students reported a significant shift in their worldview as a result of their experiences, with many describing it as profoundly challenging their global assumptions and beliefs.

Navigating the Challenges of Study Abroad

While the benefits of study abroad are clear, students also face obstacles in accessing these opportunities. Cost emerged as a significant barrier, with two-thirds of respondents citing it as a primary impediment. Additional expenses such as visa fees, transportation, and living costs further contribute to the financial burden. Despite these challenges, students are resourceful in financing their study abroad experiences, with many relying on financial aid and scholarships to cover the costs. However, there remains a need for greater support in this area, as indicated by the majority of respondents who expressed a desire for easier access to financial assistance.

Promoting Accessibility

Recognizing the importance of expanding access to programs for studying abroad, some colleges and universities have implemented initiatives to mitigate financial barriers. These include free passport programs and scholarships targeted at first-generation or underrepresented minority students. Furthermore, an increasing number of institutions are offering study abroad opportunities during students’ first year, aiming to foster a culture of international engagement from the outset of their academic journey.


The findings from Terra Dotta’s report underscore the profound impact of study abroad on students’ personal and professional development. From acquiring vital skills to broadening their perspectives, study abroad experiences have the potential to shape students into global citizens equipped to navigate an increasingly interconnected world. However, to fully realize the benefits of these programs, it is imperative that colleges and universities prioritize efforts to enhance accessibility and support for students from diverse backgrounds. By breaking down barriers and expanding opportunities for international education, institutions can empower students to unlock their full potential and thrive in an ever-evolving global landscape.


Season’s Greetings from SpaCIE

To all our former and future students, faculty and staff, as well as their families, SpaCIE wishes you health, peace, love and joy this holiday season and throughout the year 2023. All the best from Madrid!

We would like to extend these wishes to everyone, especially those who suffer from the unjust violence of war. May 2023 bring peace to the world!

Season’s greetings from the Spain Center for International Education

SpaCIE wishes you health, peace, love, and joy this holiday season and throughout 2022.

And if you’re still looking for the perfect gift for a loved one, how about tuition at one of our summer schools? Please, check them here:

For university students:

For preuniversity students:

Ten reasons why studying abroad is SO worth it!

Let’s keep learning from someone who actually studied abroad! Let’s see this experience:

10. You will make lifelong friends.

It is high time that you add more diversity to your social group! Meet classmates from all over the world and start mingling with the locals. Nothing helps you understand the world better than getting an up close and personal view of cultures from around the globe.

Put yourself out there to make meaningful connections and be sure to keep in touch after you go.

9. Traveling is easy!

When you go study abroad in France, you can easily hop on a train to Germany or get a cheap flight to Spain. A whole new part of the world will suddenly be in your reach, making it easy and inexpensive to take mind-blowing trips every weekend.

8. Becoming bilingual will be a breeze.

Sitting in a classroom and clicking through language learning apps gets old quickly, but sharing secrets and laughing with new friends will bring your second language to life. Master a new tongue by immersing yourself! It is one of the best ways to become fluent.

Growing up in Southern California, Spanish was always very prevalent, but once I studied abroad during college, I fully immersed myself and became conversationally fluent!

7. It will expand your interests.

Maybe you are an expert surfer or a natural flamenco dancer. You will never know until you try! When you study abroad, you encounter so many new things and find yourself in places you could have never imagined. Try new things to find out what you truly love.

6. You will be a shoo–in for grad school or future jobs.

If you are thinking about continuing your education, studying abroad will be a major asset. Fortune really does favor the bold. Graduate schools look for students who push themselves and your career will be more attainable with a broader view of the world.

5. It will give you good stories for job interviews.

It’s not just grad school admissions teams that are impressed by studying abroad. The experience also looks great on your resume. Nothing says “independent go-getter” like traveling to the other side of the planet and carving out a place for yourself.

4. The new culture will make you into a culinary pro!

A new country means new foods. Every trip to the grocery store will be an adventure and you will discover new dishes each time you go out to eat. You might even get around to learning some impressive recipes.

3. You will grow beyond your comfort zone.

When you leave behind everything that is comfortable, you will find yourself in some unnerving situations. You will get to put yourself out there and take risks. You might get homesick and feel ready to run home to your mother—but you won’t.

You will overcome everything that, at first, seems so overwhelming and realize that you can face any challenge in your way.

2. You will see your own culture in a new light.

Sometimes you need to take a step back to get a view of what is really going on around you. After you see another way of living, you will have a new perspective on your own home and learn to appreciate what makes it unique.

1. It is a time of self-discovery.

Studying abroad will help you find yourself. Leaving your home and your family means you have to rely on yourself more than ever before. By expanding the boundaries of your world and exploring new countries and cultures on your own, you will see a side of yourself that you didn’t know you had.