Internship abroad vs study abroad? 

When you have decided you want to spend some time abroad, the next big question that comes up is internship abroad vs study abroad. I can speak from experience, as I have done both. I completed my Bachelor and my Master degree studying abroad in the US (I am from Germany originally) and I also did an internship in China. In addition to that, I have worked as an international internship coordinator and currently I help students to organize their studies abroad.  I would like to share my thougths with you and give you some ideas about the pros and cons of internship abroad vs study abroad.

Internship abroad:

Internship abroad vs study abroad - verticalWhen you do an internship abroad, you will have a much deeper insight into the everyday culture of the country that you are living in. While most universities all over the world have a fair number of international students, who usually stick together and do not immerse as much, you are forced to communicate and work efficiently when you actually work in a company with local employees. You will get a great insight on how to do business in this country, learn the cultural differences and practice your language skills on a daily basis. In addition to that, you can build up your network in a certain industry and establish contacts that might become very valuable for your future career. Also, internships abroad tend to be more individualistic, as there are usually fewer foreign interns in a company than foreign students at a university and you might even earn a stipend to cover part of your costs of living. Best of all though is that you hit two birds with one stone: You will gain not only experience abroad, but more importantly practical work experience abroad that will set your resume apart from other applicants.

Study abroad:

Studying abroad, on the other hand might not give you the true experience, as most likely you will go abroad with quite a few other students from your country or even your university and as most international students tend to cluster with other foreigners, a true immersion in the culture is very rare. Also, and I can tell you from my own experience: Partying is pretty much the same, wherever you are, except that people don’t know you and you will most likely never see them again! Another great advantage of studying abroad is that you will not “waste” time and can graduate as scheduled. Of course, when you go abroad, you are in most cases not WASTING your time anyways, because you gain a lot of life experience through it, but if you are on a tight schedule, study abroad might be the best option for you.

I would say that any time spent abroad is a valuable experience, yet it can be completely different depending on what you are doing abroad. Studying abroad in a group might be the best option for somebody, who has never lived abroad, while an internship might be more of a challenge for someone, who has already some sort of experience in foreign countries. To make the most of your internship, you should already have a basic understanding of the language, as otherwise it will be very difficult for your coworkers to explain and transfer tasks to you and you should also stay for at least 6 months, so it is worth it, that the company invests in you and trains you to fullfil meaningful tasks.

What do you think? Which option wins the internship abroad vs study abroad battle?  Let me know!

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