A group of researchers from the London School of Economics and Political Science once conducted a study regarding “Reasons for studying abroad”. They surveyed students from all around the European Union on why they would want to pursue their higher education in another country, and the top two reasons were “broadening my horizons” and “experiencing new cultures” (West, Dimitropoulos, Hind, Wikes, 2000).

So what happened to studying abroad for better education quality? Well, apparently, only 30% of the respondents consider that as one of their reasons to study abroad, as to 70% who consider studying overseas as an opportunity to experience something new. Granted, these are students in the European Union, which probably have considerably good education quality in their home country as well. What about in other countries all around the globe, say Indonesia?

Well the QS World University Rankings place our most renowned and arguably most “prestigious” local university, Universitas Indonesia, at number 296, which wouldn’t be something someone would boast about. After all, wearing a medal for placing 296th wouldn’t look too good on anyone’s wall of fame, wouldn’t you think?

If that’s the case, it would make so much sense for Indonesian students to prioritize going abroad for better education, correct?

Well, not necessarily, and here’s why…

There are more than 25,000 universities in the whole world, and it’s safe to say that maybe only 100 of them, or even less would be worth bragging about in your CV. Chances are, your future employers won’t even recognize the other 24,900, and there’s a good chance that you might be learning something irrelevant to the Indonesian working conditions when you’re abroad. You might think you have good technical skills, but when the law, culture, and working conditions all differ from the things you were taught in university; you’ll be at a disadvantage compared to those who graduated from local universities. Truth hurts, I know.

So why study abroad then? A good 5% of you who are aiming for a place at a top university abroad might do it for the name. But for the other 95%, here are some realistic reasons that you should consider as added values for you to study abroad compared to studying at local institutions:

  • Experience something new

Whether you are truly intrigued by a certain country’s culture, or you just want to live away from home, studying abroad will bring a whole new world to you. You need to learn to speak differently, how you hangout with friends could be different, the way you shake hands could be different for all we know. Sense of humor will change, you might be inspired to change your looks to suit your community. Then there’s the most sought-after difference, which is to walk around to different places for a change rather than just walking around the house as most Indonesians do.

  • Learn to live independently

Whether you are planning to live off your parents’ allowances, or survive on your own, you will most likely become more independent. Paying your own bills, thinking about what to eat for lunch, cooking rice for the whole week, or living off Indomie. I can safely say 99% of students who have studied abroad would testify that this is one big lesson they brought home after their studies.

  • Developing open-mindedness

As our society becomes more outspoken, it surely gets many more people to thinking. People will end up disagreeing, and look at how these disagreements cause so many big conflicts in our country. Going abroad, wherever you go, will open up your mind in terms of how people think. You end up understanding why some thoughts came to be, and you’ll go home as a more open-minded person.

So let me end with this. Studying abroad is not for everyone; for so many reasons, but for those who are thinking to go, make sure you know what you’re getting yourselves into. There are so many benefits from studying abroad other than just pursuing good education, and you should get familiar with all of them to make sure you’re making the best decision for yourselves. After all, you don’t want to spend that IDR 1 billion for nothing, right?

If you have other reasons for studying abroad that are not mentioned in this post, do let us know in the comments below!