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Make your summer count

University Summer School provides an educational experience that will not only open your eyes, but also boost your CV

We might think of globalisation as a modern concept, but it was Socrates who first said: “I am a citizen of the world.” As one of humanity’s greatest early thinkers, Socrates understood that learning and life experience transcend national borders.

The world today seems much smaller to us than it probably did to Socrates. Digital media and low cost flights have placed the whole world within our grasp, and if we take the opportunity to reach out and explore, the rewards are huge.

Broaden your horizons

University is one of the few times in life when international travel is easily achievable. Later in life, work and family commitments tend to get in the way. Higher education, on the other hand, is a formative experience. It’s the time when we first strike out on our own, and start to discover the kind of person we are and the kind of person we hope to become. Travel can play a major part in that discovery. But Summer School is not about any clichéd ideas of ‘finding yourself’ – it’s about adding a new dimension to your studies, experiencing other cultures and improving your career prospects.

New perspectives

One of the most obvious benefits to Summer School is the opportunity to earn extra academic credit. You could enhance your core subject with a series of complementary short courses, or shake things up by adding in something new. Either way, studying abroad provides a chance to experience a different style of education and a new approach to your field of study.

Archaeology student Zofia Guertin travelled to Spain with the help of the University of Edinburgh’s Principal’s Go Abroad Fund and wrote of the experience: “There are significant differences between Spanish archaeology and British, and I began to find ways to bridge those differences. This trip showed me how enriching it can be to incorporate and integrate professional practices from several perspectives. Humility and openness bridges and grows great relationships and within archaeology that is no different.”

Skills for life

Beyond academia, study abroad helps to develop the so-called ‘soft skills’ that can only be earned through life experience. According to Matt Eastlake of ‘education through exploration’ initiative World Challenge, 98% of people returning from international experiences say that it helped them to develop communication, team working, leadership and decision making skills. Lizzie Fane, founder of thirdyearabroad.com interviewed 600 students with international travel experience for a report to The Higher Education Academy. Asked what they got out of their travels, the number one response was that it improved their confidence and independence.

A safe environment

The idea of immersing yourself in another nation’s culture, history and language can be a daunting one, but Summer School provides a safe and structured environment to make the most of the opportunity. You will make new friends, discover new interests and return home more confident, open-minded and resilient.

Catch employers’ attention

These experiences are for you, but they also help you on the path to employment. With employers looking at a CV for an average of 30 seconds, a degree isn’t enough to help applicants stand out from the crowd. ‘Life experience’ is that coveted but intangible thing that employers look for, because it suggests maturity, independence and spirit. International travel is a big ‘tick’ in that box, according to the British Chamber of Commerce: “Students who travel abroad immediately stand out as self-motivated, and employers are interested in the skills and knowledge that are developed when living in a different culture.”

This summer, why not take the opportunity to extend your horizons?