"Why I'm Glad I Went Abroad": Autistic Travelers Share Top 10 Reasons

Distant view of a man standing on oceanside boulders with arms outstretched
Adapting to change. Building confidence. Making new friends. What will motivate YOU to go abroad?

Are you eager to be immersed in a foreign language or do you want to gain new skills for problem-solving and independent living? Consider the many ways in which international exchange can enrich your life. We asked several autistic students to talk about the benefits they gained from studying abroad.

  1. Adapt to change. Traveling encourages improvisation and creativity, which challenges autistic travelers to accept less order and routine than they are used to when at home. "Although it is sometimes hard for people with Asperger’s to accept change, I was able to travel to a different country and see firsthand another culture and the way people lived in another part of the world."
  2. Challenge stereotypes. "Many people say Autistic people cannot make friends. Now, I am disproving these stereotypical rumors about Autism."
  3. Build confidence. "Learning my way around Barcelona via the metro gave me a sense of independence and confidence I had not known before."
  4. Increase independence. "I was many miles away from my parents...It was a very liberating experience!"
  5. Learn foreign languages or new ways of communicating. "Languages make for fun and productive special interests. They keep my brain occupied with something positive, fun and mentally invigorating."
  6. Strengthen problem-solving skills. "Sometimes I felt isolated during the class, because I could not understand discussions. So, I set up a goal: Speak up at least once per class. Soon, I realized that professors and my classmates valued my participation."
  7. Cultivate new interests. "Besides the amazing weather, I enjoyed trying new foods, like a vanilla-flavored breakfast porridge, as well as new activities, such as snorkeling, parasailing, and driving a Jet Ski!"
  8. Make new friends from around the world. "I enjoyed the experience of making friends from around the world in the classes I took at the university."
  9. Grow more confident meeting new people. "Even though my Asperger’s syndrome gives me the tendency to be somewhat introverted, I felt that my time in France learning to communicate in a different language and learning about another country broadened me, and gave me an even greater desire to interact with others and experience new cultures in the future."
  10. Become part of a community. "On many levels I have learned to be patient, to not hesitate to ask help from others, and to accept any joy and grief made by people around me."