The internet is able to connect us with pretty much anyone around the world in a heartbeat these days. There are many advantages to this, like international travel and more diverse learning opportunities - both online and in-person. A closely interconnected world also gives us the chance to develop identities as global citizens.
However, becoming a citizen of the world is not so easily achieved just by living internationally or by completing a study abroad program. So, how is it possible? And what does it mean to study abroad with this intention? This article will tell you what global citizenship is, why it’s so important these days, and how to study abroad with the intention of developing yourself towards contributing to a better world.
Facts about Global Citizenship and Study Abroad
- 35% of students are nervous or unsure about making friends from other cultures
- Most students (91%) say that diverse and multicultural classes are important to them
- A cooperative learning environment is preferred by 26% of students
- 66% prefer a balance between cooperation and competition
Statistics taken from International Student Survey Insights 2021-2022
Understanding global citizenship
While the term global citizenship has become more popular recently, it is not so new. The origin of the term actually dates back to Ancient Greece in the 4th century BC! But, what does it look like in the 21st century?
To fully understand what global citizenship means, first consider how people generally define themselves. For example, imagine introducing yourself to someone from another country. You might say your name, your occupation or what you’re studying perhaps, and most likely, what country you’re from.
Global citizens think differently. They think of themselves beyond national identity and connect with the world and humanity as a whole. This doesn’t mean you should ignore where you come from. Think of it as a mindset that makes you even more culturally aware of the world and your place in it.
What does it mean to study abroad and become a global citizen?
You might be thinking: Am I a global citizen because I was born on earth? In that sense, of course! However, learning about different cultures is just as necessary for global citizenship. So what does it mean to study abroad with cultural exchange in mind? Here are some tips that will guide your journey.
1. Seek experiences outside of your comfort zone
You will learn about yourself just as much as you will learn about others when you put yourself outside of your comfort zone. Studying abroad and living internationally is a great way to discover new cultures, allowing you to form an inclusive perspective on what it means to be a part of this world. Despite all of our differences, all people have something in common as humans sharing the same earth.
2. Choose a school with a diverse student body
When you’re looking for information about how to study abroad in different countries, search for schools with a large, multicultural student body. The more diverse the environment, the more unique insight you will receive. Your international education will show you how to approach the world in different ways, ultimately empowering you to make an impact - whether that be locally or globally.
3. Take classes and join clubs that center on global issues
Regardless of your major, make sure your educational experience can give you insight into some of the world’s most important problems. Take classes or join student groups that tackle issues about poverty, sustainability, renewable energy, or any other global issue you feel passionate about. Look for volunteer opportunities in the school’s local community, or ask about possibilities to create new groups to make a difference.
4. Share your ideas and listen to other perspectives
All of your new classmates, professors, and learning experiences will become an opportunity to grow as a person. The intercultural dimension of international education is why study abroad programs are so crucial. You can make progress on your journey to global citizenship by sharing your own ideas and knowledge while being open to listening to others. With active involvement in genuine international exchange and collaboration, your mind will expand towards new, unimagined possibilities.
Curious about living internationally and studying abroad?
Take a look at our guides to know what it’s like in different countries.
Why study abroad programs lead to a sustainable world community
The most important part of global citizenship is being active in making the world a better place. There are huge global challenges in today’s world such as climate change and public health crises that require everyone’s commitment and attention. Living internationally gives you the skills to work with others across any sort of boundary - whether it’s national, ethnic, or cultural.
As you’re learning how to study abroad, consider how different schools may help you find a sense of global purpose. You might look at the emphasis that the EHL Hospitality Business School places on sustainability, or the globally-oriented education Israeli universities offer their students in all subjects.
In order to tackle the world’s problems, you need to know the world. This is why study abroad programs can help you make a difference. You can even talk to current students on our site to find out first-hand why study abroad programs are so life-changing. With international experience and a deeper knowledge of yourself and others, you will be well-equipped to contribute to the well-being of all humans sharing this planet.