Four PR Lessons I Learned Studying Abroad

By Chase McDaniel

When I embarked on my journey overseas, I did not know that my experience would not only make me a more well-rounded person, but also a better public relations student! 

Studying overseas has many fantastic benefits. From experiencing new cultures, trying new things, and making friends from around the world, it’s no wonder why students are so eager to set foot abroad. When I embarked on my journey to The Hague, the Netherlands, I did not know that my experience would not only make me a more well-rounded person, but also a better public relations student. 

Teamwork makes the dream work

Teamwork is a significant part of university culture in the Netherlands. Professors have their students complete a ton of group projects throughout the semester, so team involvement is crucial. At the university I attended, they require all 120 plus exchange students to take a Dutch Culture and Society course. In this class, the university pairs you with seven other exchange students, all from different countries. The course forces you to leave the comfort of your home country friends and work with new faces from across the globe. I worked with students from Russia, the Netherlands, France, Portugal, and Malaysia and can now call many of them friends. As a team, we worked on multiple group projects throughout the semester, experienced field trips, and presented our work for a final project. This trip showed me what excellent teamwork looks like. When a group works together as a team and plays to each member’s strengths, it allows for a more manageable and enjoyable time. It also set the standard for my future groups in PR classes and has ultimately made me a better leader across campus and in those groups.

Plan, Plan, Plan!

Planning is one of the most vital steps in the public relations process and is just as important to your travels abroad. Planning a trip abroad requires a lot of time and patience, where you have to spend hours on research, ticket buying and itinerary building. For my Dutch Culture and Society course, I had to plan a group field trip. For this field trip, I had to research relevant places to go, the best modes of transport, the cost of tickets and any other key factors necessary for a successful trip. I had to ensure that we stayed within budget and allotted a time where everyone could attend. Overall, the field trip was a success, and my group members commended me for the great time we had! Planning this field trip and other trips gave me real-world experience in planning, and I think it deserves credit for my success later on in the workplace.

Adapt, or else!

Nothing screams getting out of your comfort zone more than being in a foreign place with strangers, a new language and a totally different way of life. So all of a sudden, simply getting through the day becomes the ultimate boot camp of accommodation. From lost luggage on my first day, a pickpocket encounter, to the language barrier, missed trains, exam troubles, and multiple banking setbacks, I had to do more than just hope that everything would turn out okay. I had to adapt. There is always an underlying sense of uncertainty present when studying in a place foreign to you. Learning to adapt is almost a requirement and shaped me as a student, traveler and global citizen. Not only that but learning this adaptability factor has allowed me to grow in my personal and professional endeavors.

Confidence is key

Agility PR argues that confidence is the top soft skill needed to succeed in PR regardless of title or how many years you have under your belt. After studying abroad, I found myself much more confident in my abilities. I was able to not only communicate better in meeting situations, but I was also more confident in myself. Being abroad makes you uncomfortable; you don’t know the language, the people, or your way around. You are forced to make connections with people you normally wouldn’t and realize that you have all these abilities you never even knew you had. Not only this but studying abroad in college is a huge selling point to distinguish you from other candidates in the hunt for a career. Having this experience is not only a confidence booster, but it’s a resume booster too! 

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