With so many study abroad program types and destinations available to you, and the long check list of tasks you need to complete before actually heading overseas,it can be difficulty to decide where to start .Get yourself organized with these five steps that will help you plan ahead ,of your time abroad.
1. Decide if study abroad is right for you
Sure studying abroad sounds awesome 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.
2. Decide where and when to study abroad
There are so many destinations to choose from when deciding where you want to study abroad that it can often be an overwhelming choice. It might be best if you first narrow down the type of location that interests you the most, and then make your decision. For example:
Would you prefer to study abroad in a rural or urban setting?
Do you want to be in an English-speaking area or somewhere where you need to speak a foreign language?
Is it important to you that you be centrally located to spend time on weekends traveling to nearby cities?
Based on your answers, you probably have a good idea about the qualities you want in your study abroad destination. Now it’s just a matter of finding it!
Next, it’s time to decide when you want to study abroad in your said location. Typically, it’s best to decide when you plan to go abroad at least nine months to one year ahead of time, if not more. Many study abroad programs require applicants to apply at least six months before the program begins, so having at least nine months gives you time to research, find and apply to a program(s) at your leisure.
3. Find study abroad programs
Now that you have decided where and when you want to study abroad, it’s time to find a program. From summer study abroad trips to semester-long and full academic year programs, there are several types of programs to choose from as you decide which is best for you. As you research your options, it’s important to talk directly with the program(s) of interest to learn more about what they offer, at what cost, and which amenities are or aren’t included such as airport pick-up, onsite orientation, housing, etc. Check out our blog post on the study abroad application.