Imagine that your mom is frying up some juicy, luscious bacon. You can hear the salty strips sizzling and crackling in the pan... Your mouth waters in anticipation as the amazing fragrance almost hits your nose… but not quite, cause you’re not actually standing in your mom’s kitchen – you’re just FaceTiming with her.

Which means that you won’t actually get to taste Mom’s beautiful, nitrite-free, applewood smoked, perfectly cooked bacon, either. But that’s OK, because you saw it on FaceTime, and that’s the same thing, right?

Yeah. Not so much.

Now imagine that you’ve graduated from college and you’ve landed a job interview. But this isn’t just any job – this is your ultimate dream job! In fact, you want this job so bad you can’t stand it.

While you’re in the interview, your potential new boss notes that the job involves occasional travel to (insert awesome country here), and that you’ll be working with employees from other nations around the world. She wants to know what type of international experience you have and, specifically, how you’ve honed your cross-cultural communications skills.  

But you don’t panic, cause you’ve got the perfect response: You follow several international travel feeds on Instagram, and you’ve got family in another country that you Skype with on holidays. That counts, right?

Again, not so much.

As interactive as today's technology may be, there are simply some experiences that can’t be lived digitally. (Like bacon.) But more importantly, the benefits you gain from traveling and studying internationally can’t be obtained through the screen of your iPhone. Today’s marketplace is growing ever more global, and employers seek employees that know how to adapt to new situations, that communicate well with people from other cultures, that are curious and eager to learn, and that have hands-on skills gained through internships, service learning, and volunteering.

Guess where you can gain all of those benefits and then some? By studying abroad.

But don’t just take our word for it; statistics from UC Merced show that study abroad students:

  • Have 25% higher starting salaries than non-study abroad students; that translates to $567,000 more in earnings through a career
  • Experience 19% lower unemployment rates
  • See twice the rise in their GPAs after studying abroad

Plus, a whopping 84% of students say studying abroad helped them gain job skills!

Think of it this way: Would you rather visit the Eiffel Tower with a group of friends while munching on a warm chocolate croissant from a local bakery… or just look at this iconic landmark on Google Earth? Would you rather study art history while gazing at the Sistine Chapel or the Mona Lisa….or just look at them on a tiny 4-inch screen? Would you rather learn about environmental sustainability while working on a service-learning project in a Costa Rican rainforest… or just look at pictures of the jungle on Instagram?

More importantly, would you rather tell a potential employer that you gained hands-on experience in your chosen field through an international internship in Granada, Spain… or that you’ve got a few Spanish Facebook friends?

The choice is yours. Will it be the bacon… or the fakon?

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