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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.


Radiant Wishes from SpaCIE: Global Harmony in the New Year!

As the dawn of 2024 approaches, SpaCIE extends warm greetings to our cherished global community. From the heart of Madrid to every corner of the world, our heartfelt wishes echo for a year adorned with understanding, compassion, and positive transformations.

Greetings for a Harmonious Tomorrow from SpaCIE

Looking back on the past year, we celebrate the resilient spirit that defines SpaCIE. Our students, faculty, staff, and their families have collectively contributed to shaping SpaCIE into a diverse, supportive, and thriving community.

  1. Supporting Peace Initiatives: Discover and champion organizations dedicated to conflict resolution and humanitarian aid. Whether through financial contributions or active volunteering, your support can manifest tangible impacts in fostering global peace.
  2. Promoting Cultural Understanding: Embrace the richness of diversity by actively engaging in the exploration of different cultures, traditions, and perspectives. Through open dialogue and empathy, we can build bridges that transcend geographical and cultural boundaries.
  3. Advocating for Education: Recognizing education as a potent catalyst for lasting change, we encourage support for initiatives providing access to quality education. Especially in regions affected by conflict, empowering individuals through knowledge can break the cycle of violence and promote sustainable peace.
  4. Practicing Kindness Locally: The foundation for a more peaceful world begins at home and within our local communities. Extend acts of kindness to neighbors, colleagues, and strangers alike. These small gestures can create a ripple effect, sowing seeds of compassion and understanding globally.

Let’s collectively pledge to contribute to a more peaceful and equitable world. By heeding SpaCIE’s call to action, your efforts become a testament to the positive change achievable when united. Together, we have the power to create a lasting legacy of peace that transcends borders and generations.

As we set our intentions for the coming year, may the spirit of unity and understanding illuminate our path. Here’s to a transformative 2024, marked by purpose, compassion, and the unwavering pursuit of global harmony.

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.


10 Reasons to Study Abroad

Nothing better than learning from someone who actually studied abroad! Let’s check, for instance, experience:

1. Travel

First thing’s first! Why did I initially decide to Study Abroad? To travel!

I had never been out of the country (with the exception of Southern California’s neighboring “state” Mexico). Studying Abroad gave me the opportunity to see the world, without compromising my education, all while I was still in school.

2. Education

To be perfectly honest I was really just looking for a reason to travel, but couldn’t find a way to justify taking a break from school to wander off somewhere in the world.

Solution: Study Abroad, see the world, get college credits! I decided to go to Spain.

While there, I would attend my Advanced Spanish Language class Monday-Friday and each weekend we had excursions organized to take us to other cities in Spain. I ended up earning something like 9 college units in one month. (In case you’re wondering, that’s more than half the units I would earn each semester!)

The education not only came from my Intensive Spanish Language Program, but through experiencing the culture.

3. Cultural Enrichment

The whole experience was so much more than I had bargained for. Not only were the cultural excursions eye-opening, but I had the opportunity to live with Spanish families.

During my one month program in Spain, I lived with a host family for two weeks in Salamanca, Spain and then another host family for two weeks in El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain.

Living with a family from another culture truly opened my eyes. The son of my host family in El Puerto was deaf. My Spanish was terrible but ultimately it didn’t matter. We still found a way to communicate.

My own misconceptions melted away as I realized that language didn’t create a barrier between cultures.

4. Independence

Before studying abroad I was still living at home and attending a community college. I spent 18 YEARS in the same small town in Southern California. I needed to experience something bigger than my own backyard.

I saved all my pennies and paid my own way for the Study Abroad program. After living in Spain and then backpacking around Europe (at times alone) I realized just how capable I truly was on my own.

5. Lifelong Friendships

You become incredibly close with the other students that you are abroad with. Living with them, studying with them, partying with them and ultimately sharing the entire experience with them. Regardless of your differences, you come together and it makes everything so much sweeter.

6. The Ultimate Test

Is long-term travel right for you? I think the biggest hurtle for some people to overcome is homesickness or even culture shock. While a life of travel sounds appealing it isn’t for everyone!

I know that, even now, after all of my travels there can be loneliness with travel. Studying abroad is the perfect way to get your first taste for independent travel.

After my first trip abroad, I didn’t want to go home… obviously.

7. Diversity in Programs

I was working full time while in college so I couldn’t take off for a full year, or even a semester, to Study Abroad. Instead, I was able to take a summer off and enroll in an accelerated month long program in Spain.

After the program, I was able to spend another month backpacking around Europe. Talk to your school’s Study Abroad Program to see what they have to offer! And even if your University doesn’t offer the program you want, do what I did and see what a Community College has to offer.

There really is a program for everyone.

8. Learn a New Language

If you are interested in learning a second language Studying Abroad is a must. The best way to learn a language is to fully immerse yourself in it! After a month in Spain, countless hours in a Spanish class, a non-English speaking teacher and living with a Spanish speaking host family… I had no choice but to learn the language!

I learned more in one month in Spain than I had in 4 years of High School and College Spanish classes.

9. Resume

This is obviously debatable but, speaking from personal experience, I firmly believe that by Studying Abroad you have a leg up on other students who haven’t. Employers want to see that you are well rounded and have the capacity to do more than just study hard and get good grades.

Plus, if you’re adding a second language to your skill-set your “hire-ability” becomes leaps and bounds greater! In every interview I’ve ever had the topic of the conversation always turns to my Study Abroad and Spanish language experience.

10. Job Opportunities

Ultimately, Studying Abroad will not hurt your chances of getting a job. Like the effect it has on your resume, the end result is that it gives you a competitive advantage over other students who didn’t Study Abroad.

If you have any interest in working for a major corporation, a global brand or maybe even becoming a travel writer *insert wink here* cultural experience is essential. Your competition includes people from all over the world, not just your community.