Studying abroad holds a serious attraction for many students, but only 10% of students choose to study abroad for one or more semesters. That’s because studying abroad comes with a unique set of challenges, and it’s not for everyone. If you’ve got an independent streak, a curious mind, and enjoy being pushed out of your comfort zone, a study abroad program might be the perfect way to expand your college experience.
The 5 Main Things You Must Consider Before Choosing To Study Abroad
Does studying abroad align with your major? While it’s not essential that your major align perfectly with a study abroad program, there are many majors that benefit from the immersive experience of a semester abroad. The right study abroad program would allow art history, engineering, and environmental science majors, for example, to study site-specific works in greater context than web or book research can provide. For more on major-aligned study abroad programs, check out this article on the Best Study Abroad Destinations for 13 Popular Majors. Even if there aren’t direct parallels between a program you’re excited about and your major, most colleges require two years of language study no matter the major, so use study abroad as a way to fulfill your language requirements in a native-speaking country.
Will the program be in a language you speak or have learned? If your primary interest isn’t in learning a new language, an unfamiliar language could become more of a barrier than an opportunity. Don’t think this means you’d be limited to English-speaking countries if that’s the only language you’re currently fluent in. Gooverseas.com is a great resource for finding international universities that teach in English.
Are there courses or activities you would miss out on with a study abroad program? If you’re a student athlete, or on an athletic scholarship, you’ll need to choose a semester that doesn’t conflict with your sport’s season, or choose to forego it for the year. When planning, keep graduation requirements in mind, and the timing of required course offerings. If juggling courses or athletics with a semester abroad doesn’t work out, be sure to look into summer abroad opportunities.
How comfortable are you being away from home? Even if you’ve acclimated well to college from living with a parent or guardian, being away from home in a different culture for a long stretch of time can be tough. You may not be able to visit family for key events or holidays that you’re accustomed to spending with them.
What will the total cost of studying abroad be, and will you be eligible for financial aid? In addition to tuition and fees, plus room and board, you’ll need to plan on the cost to travel to and from your host country, any applicable visa or immunizations required, as well as transportation expenses while there, everyday expenses like food, and admissions fees if you plan on visiting historic sites and museums.
How To Get Started On Your Study Abroad Journey
While there are plenty of study abroad programs, the best place to begin is with your college or university’s study abroad office. Most schools have existing partnership programs in place with foreign universities that make applying and transferring credits a breeze. Even if you don’t end up choosing a university in a partnership with your college, the study abroad office will have a wealth of resources to help you figure out what logistics need to be in place as well as applying for scholarships or financial aid to offset the cost.
Need help getting started? Check out our Three Step Guide To Picking A Study Abroad Program. Happy travels!