Positive Long-Term Outcomes from an International Experience
following exercise is designed to help you think carefully about how living
in another country (or several) may have changed you in significant ways, including
preparing you for post-graduation employment.Moreover,
it may provide you with ideas as to how you can summarize and characterize those
positive changes and integrate that information into a resume. Study abroad
is almost always a "value added" experience in a job search.
you read the following statements, check each change that you believe
has occurred in you. Be honest!There
are no right or wrong answers, only statements that you agree do, or do
not, apply to you.
have a greater capacity to accept differences in others and to tolerate
other people’s actions and ideas that may be vastly different from my
I am more knowledgeable about another
culture and lifestyle.
I have improved my ability to communicate
with people in a second language (or understand better the variety and peculiarities
of a version of "World English").
I have a greater ability to empathize
(i.e., to sense how an event appears and feels to someone else).
I understand that there are many
ways to accomplish the same task and that those approaches are only “different,”
not necessarily better or worse.
I have learned to improve interpersonal
communication through increased abilities in listening well, speaking clearly,
and paying attention to nonverbal cues.
I have more curiosity about, and
respect for, new ideas.
I am more flexible and able to
adjust to changes in others.
I am more tolerant of ambiguous
situations, that is, of situations that are confusing and open to differing
I realize why stereotypes can be
so harmful and hurtful, both to others and myself.
I have learned how to recognize
when I have made a cross-cultural mistake and can use culturally appropriate
language and measures to repair any damage.
I understand and appreciate how
much educational systems can differ across cultures.
I have a greater willingness to
take on roles and tasks to which I am unaccustomed.
I can adapt and cope in vastly
I am more able to accept as valid
others values and lifestyles.
I am more balanced in my judgments
(i.e., less likely to judge things as “good” or “bad,” “right” or “wrong”
I think more critically: I am more
discriminating and skeptical, particularly of stereotypes.
I have generally improved my observation
I realize the importance of time
to be alone to think.
I find myself regularly reflecting
about the overseas experience and its meaning for me.
I am confident that I can meet
and make friends abroad.
I have an increased motivation
to go abroad again.
I understand better another country’s
role in world affairs.
I have a better understanding of
how and why political policy differs abroad.
I have the ability to see situations
and issues from more than one perspective.
I understand more clearly how US-Americans
and the United States are viewed overseas.
I see the world as more interconnected
than ever before.
I value human diversity and respect
others from a variety of backgrounds different from my own.
I have greater sympathy for the
struggles of international students and immigrants as a result of my experience.
I have a deeper understanding of
the common problems and issues that confront all human beings on this planet.
I have greater awareness of political,
economic, and social events occurring around the world.
I seek out international news and
want to know what is going on in the world more than ever before.
I am aware that cultural changes
can have unexpected consequences.
I understand more fully my own
strengths and weaknesses.
I feel more confident in undertaking
new travels or projects.
I can accept failures and shortcomings
in myself more easily.
I am more confident and assertive
when facing new situations.
I have become a more patient person.
I am more willing to share my thoughts
and feelings with others, and to be open when others wish to share theirs
I am less afraid of making mistakes
or being laughed at than I used to be.
I can see myself more objectively
(i.e., I see my own day-to-day problems in a broader, more realistic context).
I have increased my perseverance
I can "analyze" a social
situation more quickly than before (i.e., figure out what is going on and
I am more deeply committed to an
idea, cause, or goal.
I have the ability to create personal
peace and satisfaction in my life.
I have a greater sense of responsibility
for other people.
I am more able to express deep
I am more able to ask for and receive
help from others.
I have increased my capacity to
experiment and take risks.
I have a clearer notion of what
I wish to do with my life.
I am more aware of opportunities
in life that are open to me.
I feel greater respect and appreciation
for my natural family.
I am more independent in my relations
with family and friends.
I can accept the shortcomings of
my family members in an understanding way.
I think that I need fewer friends
but deeper (more intimate and more trusting) friendships.
I am more aware of the way I use
and structure time.
I am interested in, and capable
of, making long-range plans.
I am more determined to develop
fully my skills and talents, especially those recently gained through overseas
I feel a greater need to have diverse
experiences and friends.
I feel that being abroad helped
clarify my goals and values.
I am more likely to do things spontaneously
(i.e., to do things without undue concern about possible consequences or
any advanced planning).
I am more capable of solving life’s
day-to-day problems and accomplishing necessary tasks.
I can set more realistic priorities,
both short-term and long-term, for myself.
I am more confident about the decisions
I have a greater appreciation for
what I have.
I have the ability to make clear
personal choices and goals for my life rather than complying with what others
expect and want from me.
I have learned to place a lower
value on material things.
I want to be able to use my skills
in future work and can articulate what those are to a prospective employer.
I see my own cultural values more
clearly and understand how and why they differ from others.
I can evaluate advantages and disadvantages
of my own culture and society more objectively (i.e., from the perspective
of an outsider).
I am sensitive to subtle features
of my own culture that I had never seen before.
I have both a greater appreciation
for US-American culture and a clearer critical sense of its limitations
I have a deeper understanding of
(if not necessarily commitment to) the values and lifestyle of my native
I appreciate US-American efficiency,
but miss the different pace of life abroad.
Adapted and expanded
from: The AFS Student Study Guide published by the AFS International/Intercultural
Programs (Washington, D. D., 1979), reprinted in: Clyde N. Austin, ed., Cross-Cultural
Reentry: A Book of Readings (Abilene: Abilene Christian University Press,
1986), pgs. 273-27.
back and select the two or three that seem to you the strongest or most
on what effects you think these two or three biggest changes will have on you
and your relations with others in the next several years.
look the entire list over and think about how the overseas sojourn has altered
your perceptions, behavior, and goals. How might they increase your chances
for success in a career? How can you present those new skills and attitudes
to a potential employer in a way that makes you stand out from other
consider how you might translate these “covert competencies” into resume language.In
addition to the usual academic and work history, you should be sure to include
study/work abroad experience and associated languages. But there is quite a
bit more that you can do.For example:
if you had an internship while abroad you might consider putting a descriptive
line in your resume rather than just list it.
"Worked as legislative
intern in European Union offices of Belgiumtrade representative for six months. Duties included translating
English and French documents."
an internship with the theatre group Shakespeare’s Heirs,London, England, where I assisted in technical areas of lighting
and soundfor three productions over a four-month period."
if you had the opportunity to do some original intercultural research for a
student project this could be highlighted:
a two-month survey on attitudes towards AIDS in a rural village in
Madagascar as part of local health initiative."
Nepalese attitudes towards tourism as a sustainable development strategy
in the Pokra region for three weeks."
Australian and American attitudes towards immigration as part of a
class project in Political Science at Canberra University."
living situations can be presented as intercultural learning experiences.
with a Japanese family of four in rural Shimani, Nagano Prefecture,
for eight months, assisting with farm work and participating in the
socialand ritual life of the
in an International Students Center in Nante, France, for a semester where I met students from twenty-one countries and had a North
African and a British roommate. We all joined the intramural soccer team."
you look over the seventy-five items above, try and think about how you could
translate those skills and attitudes into language that would appeal to the
kind of employer you want to work for.As a result of your overseas experience, you likely gained insights and
skills which you need to make any prospective employer aware of, whether during
an interview or when constructing a resume. You have a lot to offer an employer.Figure out how to tell them what and why this is so!
abroad is a “value added” experience that can enhance a resume!