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One of the qualitative aspects of the educational reality in today’s world is the fact that, as time goes on, the number of students who decide in favor of studying abroad increases rather exponentially. The validity of this statement can be well illustrated in regards to the available statistical data, concerned with the subject matter. According to Stroud: “The number of American students studying abroad has more than doubled, rising from under 100,000 in 1996/1997 to almost a quarter of a million in 2006/2007” (491).
The tendency to prefer receiving education abroad is also clearly observable among students in other English speaking and non-English speaking countries: “564,766 foreign students studied in the United States during the 2005-06 school year… Twenty years ago, 343,777 foreign students were enrolled in colleges in the United States” (Stuart 17). This, of course, suggests that the growing popularity of education, obtained abroad, is objectively predetermined. Apparently, there are independent preconditions for this to be the case.
Among them, is being usually mentioned the fact that, while studying abroad, students are provided with the opportunity to excel in leaning foreign languages and to increase the extent of their cross-cultural competence. Nevertheless, even though that the earlier mentioned suggestion is thoroughly legitimate, it does not really address what accounts for the innermost essence of the phenomenon in question – the fact the educational paradigm of studying abroad cannot be discussed outside of the Globalization’s discursive implications.
That is, it is namely due to the paradigm’s ability to help students to attain the sensation of being thoroughly secularized and intellectually flexible ‘citizens of the world’ that there can be only a few doubts as to its growing popularity.
By obtaining university diplomas in foreign countries, graduates confirm that they indeed have what it takes to qualify for most prestigious and highly paid jobs, as individuals capable of recognizing the counter-productive nature of a number of cultural/religious/moralistic prejudices, which accompany the majority of conventionally educated people, throughout the course of their lives. In my paper, I will explore the soundness of the above-statement at length.
As of today, it became a commonplace practice among people to refer to the concept of education, as being essentially synonymous to the notion of a socio-cultural/scientific progress. After all, it is namely due to the fact that, while gaining knowledge about the surrounding reality by the mean of growing ever more educated, that individuals are able to ‘bend’ it in accordance to their wishes, and consequently to enjoy ever-higher standards of living.
The validity of this suggestion can be shown in relation to the inventions of electricity, penicillin and internal combustion engines. However, in order for the paradigm of education to continue benefit people in a variety of different ways, it may never cease challenging the conventions of currently predominant socio-cultural discourses.
For example, during the course of the Middle Ages, it were specifically European universities that used to contribute the most towards exposing the sheer fallaciousness of Christian scholasticism, which in turn made it possible for the methodology of empirical sciences, such as physics and chemistry, to emerge. The paradigm of education also appears to have substantially contributed towards the emergence of the concept of ‘nationhood’ in the early 19th century.
The fact that, as time goes on, the most prestigious educational institutions continue to ‘fuel’ the process of more and more people growing to recognize the erroneousness of many concepts that formally account for an undisputed truth-vale, can also be illustrated in regards to the realities of a post-industrial living, closely associated with the notion of Globalization. After all, it was namely Theodore Levitt (a highly credited professor of economics from Harvard Business School), who invented and promoted the term.
What is the most prominent discursive feature of the term in question? It is the fact that Globalization implies the sheer outdatedness of the concept of ‘nationhood’, in the traditional sense of this word. As Ohmae pointed out: “The global economy ignores barriers… if they are not removed, they cause distortion.
The traditional centralized nation-state… is ill equipped to play a meaningful role on the global stage” (5). Given the fact that the very laws of history predetermined the rise of Globalization, the process of this Earth becoming increasingly ‘flat’ is irreversible. What it means is that, in order to be able to able to attain a social prominence in the ‘globalized’ world, people must be thoroughly comfortable with what the Globalization’s provisions stand for.
These provisions can be generally outlined as follows: a) it is specifically one’s value, as an educated professional, which defines the concerned individual’s sense of self-identity (not his or her ‘national affiliation’), b) the measure of just about anyone’s ‘worthiness’ reflects the amount of money that he or she happened to have in the bank, c) it is only the matter of time, before the notion of ‘national borders’ will lose the remains of its formal validity.
Therefore, there is nothing utterly surprising about the fact that, as it was mentioned earlier, more and more students strive to study outside of their home countries. The major reasons, as to why they do it, are as follows:
1. While studying abroad, students naturally grow intellectually flexible, which in turn will make them more likely to succeed in the ‘globalized’ world. What contributes to impeding the chances of a social advancement, on the part of people who never lived abroad, is the fact that they are being rather incapable of addressing life-challenges, outside of a particular behavioral pattern, predetermined by their national/cultural/religious affiliation. The reason for this apparent – without having been exposed to the socio-cultural realities in foreign countries, people tend to tackle these challenges, as their culture/religion ‘prescribes’ them to.
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Such a manner of acting, however, rarely proves effective, because it is in the very nature of just about any culture/religion to remain arrogant, as to the discursive implications of an ongoing social and scientific progress. For example, a female-student that was born and raised in Pakistan would be naturally inclined to believe that wearing short skirts is morally inappropriate and therefore, punishable by God.
However, after having lived in one of the Western countries, she would realize that: a) God could not care less about the length of women’s skirts (as he does not strike short-skirt-wearing women with lightning bolts), b) wearing short skirts can well serve as the tool of a social advancement (especially if the concerned woman pursues the career of a secretary). Both of the earlier mentioned realizations, on this student’s part, would automatically increase the extent of her existential fitness.
2. Studying abroad prompts students to adopt thoroughly secularized worldviews, which in turn increase the measure of their perceptual adequacy and consequently, their value, as young professionals. While in foreign countries, students grow to realize the fact that, whatever happened to be their ‘native’ religion, it cannot possibly be considered as only the ‘truthful’ one.
Such an eventual development is predetermined by the fact that, while abroad, students will inevitably socialize with the representatives of other religions and atheists, while simultaneously experiencing the absence of a parental control.
However, it is not only that this will help them to become thoroughly normal, in the psychological sense of this word, but will also provide them with an additional incentive to strive to excel in academia. The reason for this is apparent – those liberated of religious illusions, inevitably come to realize that it is namely education (along with money), which represents the only universally recognizable value.
This, of course, will make it more likely for students to adjust to the provisions of Globalization, as the process of the world becoming increasingly secularized. There is an additional aspect to it – after having adopted a secularized worldview; students will be more capable of acting as the agents of progress, upon their return back home. After all, the extent of people’s secularization has long ago been proven as such that positively relates to the quality of their living standards.
3. Studying abroad will endow students with the sense of responsibleness. What often undermines the effectiveness of an educational process in the conventional settings, is that many students are being tempted to regard studying, as such that represents their second or even third order priority. This is especially appears to be the case when off-campus students are being concerned.
Apparently, the very proximity of their parents causes many of these students to adopt a somewhat irresponsible attitude towards studying. However, when in foreign countries, students are left with no option but to continue applying an unwavering effort towards ‘absorbing’ the taught knowledge.
This will not only result in increasing their chances to obtain a diploma, but also in making them emotionally comfortable with the notions of responsibleness and discipline. Given the fact that the notion of Globalization is best discussed within the methodological framework of neo-liberalism, graduates who received their education abroad, will be automatically preferred for hiring by privately owned companies.
4. Studying abroad should help students to grow into quick-minded adults. While outside of their native countries, students will inevitably face a number of communicational, psychological and material challenges.
In order to be able to deal with them, students will be required to practice quick-mindedness on a continuous basis. In its turn, this will substantially increase their value, as professionally adequate employees. After all, as we are being well aware of, the very paradigm of Globalization presupposes the rise of qualitatively new and continually transformable market-dynamics within the world’s economy – hence, deeming preferable specifically the quick-thinking employees.
I believe that the earlier provided line of argumentation, in regards to what should be considered the foremost benefits of studying abroad, fully correlates with the paper’s initial thesis. Apparently, the very process of Globalization causes more and more students to strive to obtain diplomas abroad, as something that will provide them with a number of practical advantages, when it would come to seeking employment, on their part.
Therefore, it will only be logical to conclude this paper by pointing out once again that the growing popularity by this particular mode of studying is dialectically predetermined.
Ohmae, Kenichi. Next Global Stage: Challenges and Opportunities in Our Borderless World. Upper Saddle River: Wharton School Publishing, 2005. Print.
Stroud, April. “Who Plans (Not) to Study Abroad? An Examination of U.S. Student
Intent”. Journal of Studies in International Education 14.5 (2010): 491-507. Print.
Stuart, Reginald. “Stepping Up to Study Abroad.” Diverse Issues in Higher Education 24.19 (2007): 16-19. Print.