Why it Matters if Your University is Culturally Diverse
Sponsored by John Cabot University
Travelling and moving abroad to study for a degree is increasingly popular – an article published by the BBC in September 2012 reported the number of students studying abroad was increasing by 12 percent each year. Fast forward to 2019, and the number of students crossing borders for an international study experience continues to increase, with the US, UK and China all sending record numbers of students abroad.
As the world continues to become increasingly globalized, it’s inevitable that, no matter where in the world you study, you will meet and get to know new groups of people from various cultures and backgrounds. This cultural diversity is one of the most significant aspects of studying abroad, or at a university which attracts students from around the world.
Now more than ever, it’s vital universities lead the way in promoting and embracing cultural diversity. To find out more about why this is so important, we spoke with John Cabot University, an American university in Rome.
What universities are doing to encourage a culturally diverse learning environment
Whether it’s through the services they offer or program curriculum, universities are working hard to encourage and promote cultural diversity and internationalization on campus.
John Cabot University for example, offers a number of international exchange programs as well as a diverse range of English-taught undergraduate programs which attract students from all over the world. Take a look at this short video and discover the stories of John Cabot University students who feel that they’ve found their place, not just at the university, but in Rome – whatever their background and interests.
You’ll develop traits that reflect a ‘global citizen’
Degree programs are inherently global now. It doesn’t matter what you’re studying – whether it’s history, English literature or psychology – you’ll be expected to take a global outlook. The idea of ‘internationalization’ is woven into almost every curriculum, and although it’s important to appreciate how internationalization is relevant to your studies, it’s also important to understand how it’s relative to you as an individual away from academics.
“Being part of such a diverse community makes me more considerate of the effect that my words might have on other people,” says Russian student Toma, who is studying BA International Affairs at John Cabot University.
“With some of my classes having seven or more nationalities, I get a broad and varied point of view on each topic because everyone comes from different backgrounds and has something different to say.
“I don’t think students from other schools get that kind of everyday exposure to a multinational environment. This kind of interaction is so important to us as future policy makers.”
Becoming more aware of cultural differences and considering these differences when faced with adverse situations or experiences is ideal preparation for a workplace which is likely to be highly globalized.
You’ll learn to understand and appreciate different cultures
Wherever you study in the world, walking through your university’s campus can be like opening the door to a whole new world. As you meet new people from your degree, student accommodation or student club, your social circle widens, and your social development enhances as you build new friendships and professional network connections.
This is doubly powerful if the people you are meeting come from drastically different backgrounds to your own. Far-flung countries, distant cultures and foreign religions can become much more easily understood and appreciated, allowing you to draw on a much wider range of experiences.
This ability to connect and empathize with people from vastly different backgrounds to your own is so important, particularly when others try to marginalize or dehumanize people who don’t look, or sound like them. This can then help you prepare for a career within a global setting.
You may even get to grips with a new language
The benefits of moving abroad to study in a new country surrounded by a diverse mix of cultures can also help you learn a new language or two as well.
Students who study at John Cabot University will be exposed to Italian on a daily basis. Add that to the English-taught undergraduate programs and you could be multilingual before you know it.
The benefits of this will be immediately apparent once you enter the workplace and can use your language skills while travelling abroad for business meetings and work events, networking and building friendships with people from all over the world.
For Ann-Sophie, who is also a BA International Affairs student from Belgium at John Cabot University, the decision to move to Rome to live and study has been a good one: “I’m a very family-orientated person, and I’ve discovered that the John Cabot University community is really like a big family.
“I’ve met so many people that share the same interests as me, like my love for exploring and an active lifestyle. Rome is an amazing city and the people I’ve met here have really made it feel like home.”
This article was originally published in August 2019 . It was last updated in January 2020