Benefits of Studying Abroad as a Music Student

studying abroad

The question of whether or not to study abroad during college is a difficult one. After all, packing up your instruments and heading off to immerse yourself in a completely different culture can be an expensive proposition. However, there are many ways to address the naturally expensive costs of studying abroad, such as applying for scholarships and grants or looking for destinations that tend to be more affordable.

Costs aside, other factors like discomfort and fear of the unknown may be touted as reasons to stay put as you study. But, they are actually some of the very things that should push you to consider heading off on a global adventure during your academic career.

Let’s break down some of the reasons that studying abroad can be an excellent choice for any musically inclined university student.

Cultural Immersion

One of the classic benefits of studying in another country is learning to appreciate the fact that you share the world with a much larger group of people than just the inhabitants of your own nation. The experience of steeping yourself in another country’s culture, traditions, art, food, habits, and behavior is eye-opening and can be immensely beneficial.

Different Music Styles

Of course, for musicians, the benefits of cultural immersion extend past the basics and into the music itself. Living in another nation can open up the door for you to observe and be influenced by different performance styles, variations on music composition, and even the way that music itself is viewed and appreciated.

Exposing yourself to other beats, rhythms, and music styles can also help expand your musical acumen and can even give you an edge if and when you pursue a music internship in the future.

Developing Cross-Cultural Communication Skills

The simple benefit of learning another language was considered a primary perk of foreign studies in the past. In the modern day, though, what tends to be highlighted is the more complex ability to develop cross-cultural communication skills.

Talking to someone in their own language is always a huge benefit for communication. However, understanding how to respect another culture’s approach to business, communication, and life, in general, is a skill that will continue to benefit you throughout your professional career. The ability to learn cross-cultural communication tends to be an experience-driven learning process, making it difficult to master without directly interacting with people from other cultures. And, of course, this is exactly what naturally occurs while studying abroad.

Stretching Personal Boundaries

Another natural side effect of studying abroad is learning to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. It’s easy to gravitate towards the things that you’re used to. However, when that is all you do, it’s easy to miss out on a myriad of different life experiences.

Not only are these experiences great ways to help develop you into a well-rounded human being, but they also help create a boldness to approach music styles and traditions that don’t necessarily jive with your national tastes and interests. This ability to expand your musical tastes by stretching your personal boundaries can be instrumental in deepening your overall musical knowledge and acumen.

Learn the Global Language of Music

Another more subtle benefit for music students studying abroad is the opportunity to discover first hand just how global the language of music is. No matter how many differences you have with someone, you can always connect over a jam session. While you may already be aware of this incredible phenomenon, studying abroad gives you the opportunity to practice “speaking” the language with other musicians in a real-world setting.

All the World’s a Stage

One modern perk to heading overseas for part of your education is the fact that you don’t even have to leave all of your stateside musical pursuits behind. Cutting edge technology has made it increasingly easier to simply work with fellow students or musicians remotely as you globetrot.

For example, simply having an iPad allows you to stay plugged into your musical occupations without breaking a sweat. It gives you access to everything from simple tuning devices to foot pedals, sheet music, and even the ability to record and send music to fellow musicians online.

Having Your Music by Your Side

Though we take it for granted, one final benefit of studying abroad in this day and age is the fact that while your family, friends, and culture may have been left behind, your favorite music never has to be far from your side. While it’s still a fairly new reality, the fact that your favorite music can follow you wherever you go via your mobile devices, music players, and a plethora of different streaming services means you can always switch on some tunes. This can be incredibly beneficial as you attempt to concentrate and stay motivated whenever you crack open a book or log in to do some studying.

Take Studying Music Abroad Seriously

While it’s easy to write off the possibility of studying abroad as an option for the rich kids, the truth is, it’s something that everyone should at least consider. If you can manage to find a way to cover the costs, the opportunity to stretch your cultural and musical comfort zone by spending some time outside of your own country is unparalleled. It’s the perfect way to help develop your skill set and character as you prepare to launch your career.

Indiana Lee is a writer and musician from the pacific northwest who has a particular interest in covering the arts, social justice, and health. You can follow her work on Contently, or email her at

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