Almost everyone who has ever studied abroad is happy that they did. I have talked to a few students who wished that they could have changed a few things but I’ve yet to meet one student who completely regrets studying abroad. Whether or not you love to travel, a study abroad program is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that should not be passed up. Learning in a different country opens your eye sand gives you a different perspective, not to mention looks great on your resume.
So, how do you find out about these programs? How do you decide if study abroad might be right for you?
Whether you are enrolled at a university pursuing a bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree, are registered at a community college, or even if you are still attending high school, there are numerous study abroad programs to explore at all levels. A simple Internet search will cough up programs all over the world.
The first place to get information is at your college or university’s Study Abroad or Office of International Education Programs. The advisers will guide you toward the array of programs, and provide you the specifics about which courses are transferable and which are not. Be sure to get their commitment in writing regarding transferring credits. Specific university departments such as the Law School or the College of Business have resources about programs within those specialties for both undergraduates and graduates. High school guidance counselors are very knowledgeable about these programs also.
t, where, when, and why of study abroad programs
Who is eligible to study abroad? Students must apply and get accepted into the study abroad program that they choose. You’ll find that each program has different requirements. Most college study abroad programs expect applicants to be at least 18 years old, and have a minimum grade point average (GPA), and provide college transcripts, letters of recommendation, and letters of intent. Programs for high school students have their own special requirements.
What subject will you study when you go abroad? Whether accounting or art history is your passion, you will need to declare your choice; each program has a list of available subjects that you can pursue. Maybe you are going to Barcelona to improve your Spanish skills or headed to Rome to learn about ancient civilization. You must decide before completing the application.
Where in this big wonderful world do you want to study? The possibilities of location seem endless. Do you have a city or country that is screaming your name, such as Madrid or Vienna or somewhere in Germany? Think about favorite vacations you’ve had, fascinating cultures you’ve studied, climates and terrains that appeal to you. Can you think of anything more exciting than skiing in the Alps on the weekends—after you are done studying, of course?
When do you want to study abroad? There are long-term programs that will have you involved for an entire academic year. Shorter programs cover a semester, a summer, or even only a few weeks. And how soon would you like to leave? Are you ready to pack those bags pronto, or are you thinking ahead to a couple years from now?
Why leave the good old USA to study? Besides saying bon voyage to the comfort of your dorm or small apartment to get credit in a foreign country, what other reasons are there for you to travel abroad while in college? Interesting volunteer opportunities await college students in Africa and in countries such as Greece. Spend time in China teaching English to school children or teaching another subject, such as science. Or why not do your business management interning in Australia? Think of all that you will learn from your host family. You will return home with a lifetime of wonderful and interesting experiences.
What about how? You’ve searched some study abroad websites and perused some of the literature you’ve received and just fell out of your seat when you saw some of the prices. Remember to read what is offered in these programs such as travel, housing and other essentials. And, relax. Financial aid, grants and scholarships are available, as they have been with your college education. Your university will help you locate these resources for study abroad.
You may never again get the chance to travel as inexpensively and with so many ways to learn about other cultures. Studying abroad, even if only for a few weeks, is a wonderful opportunity for college and high school students.