Studying abroad sounds awesome and the thought of an international classroom can be exciting for every student. Making the decision to study abroad, like any big life decision, takes a lot of self-reflection and thought. While there are certainly those among us who have no problem spinning a globe and allowing fate to decide where in the world we might go next, the majority of us consider a broad range of factors that will influence our decision about not just which country to choose, but which program to choose as well.
Here are some considerations we believe will help you plan ahead for your time abroad.
Study abroad is right for you or not?
Studying abroad really good choice, but is it a good fit for you? First, ask yourself a few questions:
– Do I like traveling to unfamiliar places?
– Am I comfortable being away from family and friends for an extend period of time?
– Would I enjoy exploring a new culture?
– Will I use study abroad to help shape me academically, professionally and/or personally?
If you answer “yes” to most or all of the questions, study abroad is probably a great choice for you. If you answer “no” to a lot of the questions, it might be time to do more honest soul searching before you decide. The reality is, studying abroad is a unique, adventurous opportunity to try something new and grow as both a student and a person, and it also comes with some challenges such as being out of your comfort zone and away from family and friends.
Where to Study Abroad?
Where do you want to study? Many countries are eager to welcome new students. Some of the most popular destinations to study are England, France, Italy, Spain, and Australia. However, many students are choosing different countries such as Costa Rica, Japan, and Chile also. Just as knowing what you want to study can help you decide where to and know where you’d like to study can help you choose what classes to take.
When to Study Abroad?
When can you go? Take a look at your personal life: your job and financial responsibilities, your family, your friends. Evaluate your situation, break out your university’s calendar, and decide when would be the best time for you to study abroad. Also figure out how long you can be abroad. If year-long or semester programs are too long for you, consider studying during a summer session or even a much shorter January intersession.
Find study abroad programs
Now that you have decided where and when you want to study abroad, it’s time to find a program. It is important that students choose an appropriate study abroad program to get the most out of an international experience. Because there are a variety of program types, structures, locations, and requirements… it is worth the time and effort it takes to find a study program that meets your individual academic and personal needs.
Study Abroad Programs have distinctive characteristics, like students, and thus it is important to find the right “match” between the student and the program. Your friend, or sister, or teacher may have participated in a program that was “absolutely great” for them, but may not be a good fit for you. Thus, a glowing recommendation from someone who went on a program is not necessarily the most appropriate approach to choosing a program.
– Understand your needs and characteristics before choosing a study abroad program
– Explore several options and compare program characteristics
– Choose a study abroad program that fits your needs and characteristics
Talk to your support system
Meet with your academic advisor to ensure you can stay on track to graduate on time, plan the coursework you need to take before you go abroad, the coursework you should save and take while abroad and the coursework that you will need to take after you return.
Talk with your parents about why, when and where you want to study abroad. Deciding to study abroad is often a family decision, and having an open conversation with them can help both you and them plan the best study abroad trip for you as possible.
Put study abroad finances in place
Funding study abroad is often a concern of many students and parents; however it doesn’t need to break the bank. In fact, many students can apply their current financial aid packages toward their study abroad programs. For some students who pay out-of-state-tuition, studying abroad may actually be cheaper than a traditional on-campus semester. Plus, there are a variety of scholarship opportunities available too. When choosing your funding options, it’s important to remember to start early, ask for help and seek multiple resources.
Once you have your finances in place for your program tuition, it’s time to start saving and budgeting for your overseas daily living expenses. As you plan your budget, prioritize what is worth spending money on and what isn’t.