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7 ways international travel will make you smarter

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.” -Plutarch

Though the classroom can be an excellent place to learn and grow, international travel teaches in a visceral and tangible way. Real world experiences have a lasting impact on a person’s development and how they interact with the world that differs from theoretical learning. That’s why living abroad and traveling internationally is such a powerful way to become a more insightful, open-minded and capable professional. Here are some of our favorite benefits of travel.


7 ways international travel will make you smarter:


1. You’ll learn how to think outside the box

Going abroad is the best way to realize there really are hundreds of ways to tackle any problem. Seeing your lifestyle and beliefs from a minority’s perspective will force you to open your mind to how different the world can be and all the different beliefs and cultures that exist. That kind of awakening forever changes a person’s understanding of the complexity of the world around us.


2. Your emotional intelligence will be tested and improved

Being sensitive and socially competent is a whole different challenge when you go abroad. Social cues and behaviors vary greatly in different cultures, making it impossible to read certain codes at first. That struggle to understand the subtext of social interactions at first will only heighten and improve your abilities to interact with people in the future. You’ll also pick up on certain universal ways to show your respect to others.


benefits of travel


3. Learning a second (or third or fourth) language does wonders for your brain

The benefits of being bilingual are no secret. Foreign language skills can have a significant positive impact on cognitive process as bilingual brains operate differently than monolingual ones. Your brain functionality and memory improve, and so do your verbal skills, problem-solving and multitasking abilities.


4. You gain a multicultural perspective

Traveling to another country and experiencing a foreign culture gives you a new lens through which you can look at the world. You become aware of all the variances among the world’s cultures and how everyone lives a very different reality. Being aware and developing a sensitivity to these differences is essential for anyone who wants to work for a multicultural team in the future. People are motivated and work all sorts of different ways. It’s very important to be sensitive to that if you hope to have any kind of position where you work with foreigners.


5. You’ll make smart international friends who are also globetrotters like yourself

Surrounding yourself with smart people who challenge you is an excellent way to stay on your toes. Intelligent international friends will add a whole new layer to your perspective on the world. Having friends with varied cultural backgrounds, adventures and interests will make you realize there are so many complicated and interesting things occurring in the world that you had no idea existed.


benefits of travel


6. It will awaken your sense of wonder and curiosity

You’ll start asking questions about things you took for granted in life. Why do I act the way I act? What could I learn from the world around me? The world will suddenly feel so much bigger and nuanced and interesting as you step into a foreign reality.


7. It will challenge your critical thinking skills

International travel is hard. It takes logistical skills, time management and critical thinking skills – especially when there are foreign languages involved. You’re going to have to make inferences, analyze and interpret while navigating a new city, culture and transportation system.


To make yourself smarter in all of these ways, apply now for an international internship in London, Hong Kong, Madrid, Australia, Latin America or New York.


Sources:,, The Telegraph

Photo 1. based on brain picture, by Allan Ajifo via, CC-by-2.0

Photo 2. by The Intern Group

Photo 3. based on Curiousity, by George Atanassov, CC-by-2.0

Photos and blog by Elizabeth Trovall

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!