“I gained a better understanding of other cultures and of my own…Studying in Northern Ireland was amazing. I learned how to be independent and resourceful, in addition to improving my communications skills.” - Mathew Kirkpatrick, Fall 2017 Ulster University


12 Benefits of Studying Abroad Long-Term

Here are the 12 most important benefits of studying abroad for a longer time:

1. Increased Foreign Language Fluency

It’s no secret: The longer you study abroad, the greater fluency you gain. Through a daily combination of classes and real-world interactions (every single day for several months), you’ll notice a dramatic improvement in your language skills. There’s a real difference between learning a language and truly living it. When you spend an extended period of time in another country, you pick up the little quirks, the local idioms and a much more authentic accent. You’ll learn how to speak like the locals, realize how to read between the lines and understand the culture’s typical body language and gestures. The more local lingo you know, the deeper your connection to your new home.

2. Your self-confidence will skyrocket

It won’t just be your communication skills that’ll enjoy a boost! One of the biggest benefits of living abroad is that your self-confidence will increase as well. Navigating a different culture, making new friends, and managing a budget are all skills that will help you become a confident and independent globetrotter.

3. You'll be truly immersed in a new way of life

​Studying abroad for a week or two will give you a glimpse into another culture, but staying for an extended period of time allows you to fully immerse yourself in your host country’s way of life. You’ll learn to see the world in a new light as you explore every aspect of your new home away from home. When you’re studying abroad for only a few weeks, you’ll probably have to leave right when the barista starts to remember your name and know what you order each morning. Long-term study abroad students will have enough time to find the perfect coffee place, have a go-to pizza delivery for rainy Netflix evenings and know whom to call to get a reservation for that super hip brunch place.

​4. You’ll have more time to explore

Ticking off destinations and activities on your travel wish list is just that little bit easier for those who study abroad for more than a few weeks. There’s only so much you can see during weekend trips, after all. Long-term students benefit from vacation dates between terms, meaning they have plenty of time to explore their new city and beyond. That also means friends and family can come and visit you – and you can show them around like a local.

​5. You’ll kick-start your career

Ask any graduate: It’s a competitive world out there. Everyone’s looking for that thing that will make their CV stand out. Adding complete language fluency to your resume is your gateway to your dream career. On top of bilingualism, your time abroad will also help you develop a cross-cultural skill set that companies around the world look for when hiring.

​6. Your future will become clearer

Long-term programs give you the flexibility to get a taste of your chosen future profession. Many courses enable you to put your language skills to the test thanks to internships and special interest lessons. You’ll get to sample the reality of the industry while gaining vital international work experience to add to your CV

​7. You’ll earn proof of your language level

Universities and employers will want to see official proof of your language level. By studying abroad for a longer time, you’ll have the time to work toward the internationally recognized language exams that will help you reach your future academic and career goals.

​8. Improved critical thinking skills

It’s a fact: Learning a language makes you smarter, more efficient etc. etc. Problem-solving, multitasking and decision-making all become easier as your brain becomes more nimble and better at cognitive processes.​​

9. Enhanced Soft Skills

In addition to the development of hard skills, universities abroad also build on soft skills to enable students to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. For example, within the classroom walls, students are expected to actively participate in discussions, work on group projects, and make presentations. Across campus, students can get actively involved with clubs and societies and take on leadership roles.

As students graduate from college, these soft skills aid them at each stage and age of their life. Some examples include:

Communication Skills. You will be able to tell your supervisor what you need to do your job well. You will be able to communicate with your team to make sure you are all working together towards completion of your project. If you are in a business, your communication skills can make the difference between a satisfied customer and an angry one!

Time Management. You will be able to stick to project deadlines, effectively juggle all your tasks, and deliver good quality work prior to deadlines.

10. You’ll improve your native language skills

Language learners become sharper communicators even in their mother-tongue. When you learn a language you’re – consciously or unconsciously – reflecting on the structures of both languages while refining skills in both.

11. Make Lifelong Friends

One of the biggest benefits of studying abroad is the opportunity to meet new lifelong friends from different backgrounds. While studying abroad, you will attend school and live with students from your host country. This gives you the opportunity to really get to know and create lasting relationships with your fellow students.

After the study abroad program ends, try to stay in contact with your international friends. In addition to rewarding personal relationships, these friends can also be important networking tools later down the road. 

12. Higher Acceptance into Grad School

90% of study abroad alumni in selected programs who continued on to graduate school earned admission into their 1st or 2nd choice graduate or professional school.

Do you speak another language or do you want to learn one?

There’s no better way to learn a language than through studying abroad. From Spanish, French, and Italian to Mandarin, Japanese, and Arabic, many programs are designed to improve your language skills-- no matter what your fluency level is.

Some programs are fully immersive (where you will only speak the host language), while others have no language requirement and include language courses as part of the overall curriculum.  

If language-learning is among your main priorities for study abroad, you should probably select a program which is at least a month long and which incorporates opportunities for interaction with local people.



Do you have a location in mind?

If you can narrow it down to a country (or even a continent), you've already begun to focus your search.

Need to narrow down further? Consider what's most important to you.

  • Outdoor adventures?
  • Arts and culture?
  • Sunny days?
  • Incredible food?
  • City or rural location?
  • Dormitory, homestay, or apartment living?

Do you want to have a short two-week experience, or to study abroad for a summer, a full semester, or an academic year?

Not sure? Consider these factors:

  • How much time can stay abroad without missing classes you need for graduation?
  • Do you have a job that you need to hold onto in order to support your studies?
  • Would your family be comfortable having you stay overseas for a longer period of time?
  • Do you have enough funding from various sources to support a longer-term study abroad?
  • Are you comfortable with the idea of being away from home and family for a longer period of time? What are your goals?
  • Could they be achieved by means of a two-week trip with a faculty member and group of Lyon students or do you need a longer period of time to get to know a new country, its people, and its language?
  • Are you or do you want to become self-sufficient and do you want to learn to learn how to cope with challenges on your own or do you need a lot of support?
  • If you let this one chance to study abroad go by, are you likely to ever have one again?



Do you have requirements that you need to fulfill for graduation?

There are programs that focus on specific disciplines and those that are more general in scope. You can make your search a little easier by saving some of your general education requirements for study abroad. It is always easier to find overseas classes in subjects such as language, art, and history. However, some of the new Lyon study abroad sites, such as the Vesuvian Institute in Italy, offer a chance to study specific aspects of majors such as computer science, but in a local context. They also offer opportunities to earn up to six Lyon credits in courses taught by Lyon faculty.

Ask about the details

Just as each of our programs is unique, so is your own adventure. Call (870-307- 7229) or visit the Office of International Education (Lyon 218) to talk about the possibilities. Ask also about contacting students who have travelled on the programs you are interested in.


Common Study Abroad FAQ

1. When is the best time to study abroad? Plan to go as early as possible in your college career. For example, go as a second semester sophomore. The advantage of doing this is that you will have general education credits available which you can earn overseas more easily than you can credits in your major. Also, if you choose to study abroad early and something goes wrong, then you will still have time to reschedule.

2. What semester is best for study abroad? You have a choice of fall, spring semester, January term, or full year programs, one-month summer programs at Lyon study abroad sites, and two-week trips usually scheduled in mid-to late May.

3. How long should I study abroad? The longer you study abroad the more benefits you will gain in language proficiency, intercultural skills, self-confidence etc. However, the choice depends on your individual circumstances. Think about how long you can be away from family, whether you need to work, whether you need to be on campus for certain required courses, and how much you can afford to spend above what you can get in scholarships.

4. Can I study abroad more than once? You can only get a grant from Lyon College once to study abroad, but, if you can cover the expenses yourself, you can study abroad more than once.

5. What should I study abroad? The simplest courses to find abroad and the ones which it makes most sense to study will be courses like history, art, language, and anthropology. It will be harder to find transferable credits in technical, business, and science-related subjects, and in most cases, it makes more sense to study those subjects in the U.S. The only exceptions would be in programs, such as those at the Vesuvian Institute in Italy, which are taught overseas by Lyon faculty.

6. How much will Lyon College provide in scholarships for study abroad? The Nichols Program will provide qualified students with $1800 for two-week Nichols trips, $2000 for one-month programs, and $3000 for course lasting from over one month to one year.

7. Are there other sources of support for study abroad. Yes, for study abroad lasting a month or longer, federal and state financial aid is available. Talk to the Financial Aid Office about this. There are also scholarships such as Gilman and Boren, which are explained in the scholarship section of this website.

8. When should I apply for a passport? Since you cannot travel overseas without a passport and since application processing times average about 6 weeks, you should apply as early as possible for a passport.

9. Do I need a visa to travel? Normally a visa is not required for short stays of a month or less in foreign countries. However, for semester and year-long programs, a student visa will be required and you can apply for one at the nearest consulate of the country to which you plan to travel.

10. What are the first steps I should take in order to study/travel abroad? First, read the information on this site about choosing a study abroad program, talk with your family and your academic advisor, and visit the International Education Office.


Study Abroad and Careers, Salaries, and Job Skills

  • 97% of study abroad students found employment within 12 months of graduation, when only 49% of college graduates found employment in the same period. (1) That means they were twice as likely to find a job. Among study abroad alumni, 90% landed a job within 6 months. (2) A UK study supports US findings that study abroad returnees are more likely to find employment within six months. (12)
  • 25% higher starting salaries: that's how much more study abroad students earn than those college graduates who do not study abroad.(1) A British study found their study abroad graduates out-earned their peers by 17%. (12) This equates to approx. $7,000 annually for US students and £3,120 for UK students. Maintaining this earning advantage translates to earning an extra $567,500 over one's career in the US. (3)
  • 90% of study abroad alumni who applied got into 1st or 2nd choice grad school. (1)
  • 84% of study abroad alumni felt their studies abroad helped them build valuable skills for the job market. (4) A second study confirms this at 85%. (10)
  • 40% of US businesses failed to expand due to a dearth of staff international experience. (14)
  • 80% of study abroad students reported that study abroad allowed them to better adapt to diverse work environments. (4)
  • 70% of study abroad alumni claimed that because of study abroad they were more satisfied with their jobs. (4)
  • 59% of employers said study abroad would be valuable in an individual’s career later on with their organization. (11)
  • 34% of study abroad alumni claimed that study abroad helped them choose a career field. (4)
  • 19% A British study found the greatest increases salary earnings among study abroad alumni (compared to their peers) among seven majors: sociology, computer science, theology and religious studies, electronic and electrical engineering, and physical geographical sciences. (4)

Study Abroad and Graduation and Academic Performance

100% greater improvement in GPA post-study abroad. Student GPAs tend to rise as they approach the completion of their undergraduate degree. Students who studied abroad saw their GPAs rise twice as quickly as a result of going abroad compared to students who stayed in the USA according to a Georgia study. (8)

Study Abroad and Personality

97% of students in a University of Maryland study on IES Abroad study abroad alumni attributed an increased maturity to study abroad. (13)


96% of study abroad alumni claimed an increase in self-confidence due to study abroad. (13)


89% of study abroad alumni reported that study abroad facilitated a greater tolerance for 

ambiguity. (13)


+ A German study compared personality development and found that students who studied 

abroad showed improvements in five core traits compared to their peers who did not study abroad:

  • openness
  • conscientiousness
  • extraversion
  • agreeableness
  • increased maturity and emotional stability. (9)