Study abroad can be one of the best experiences in anyone’s life. You will improve your skills, meet new people, maybe learn a new language. And, above all, you will get to know yourself better and come back home more mature and with lots of stories to tell.
But how to find the best study abroad program, you might be asking yourself. There is so many choices available and very little information about each one of them. So how to make a decision that you won’t regret?
For anyone interested in studying abroad, here are our tips on finding the best study abroad program:
What do you hope to gain from studying abroad?
First, ask yourself what you hope to gain from a study abroad experience. Once you determine what the long-term goals of study abroad are for you personally you will be able to choose a program that’s best suited for your personal interests.
What are your professional and education goals?
You’re going to find that you have a lot of goals that you want to accomplish by the time you’re a college graduate. If you are studying abroad for college credit and professional experience, your study abroad goals deserve the same planning.
Studying abroad in a program and country that compliments your major looks impressive on a resume and makes you a more globally-minded candidate to employers. Especially if you’re adding a second language to your repertoire.
If you have any interest in working for a major corporation, a global brand or maybe even becoming a travel writer *insert wink here* cultural experience is essential.
Where do you want to study?
Some of us may already have our hearts set on a destination. But, it’s important to realize that not all programs complete course requirements for your major and not all programs are available in every destination.
So, if you have a certain country in mind or a destination that you absolutely have to go to, do some serious research to find out if there is study abroad program there that fits your studies.
Weigh up how important culture, language immersion and the course offerings are for you and make sure you find a program and a destination that will tick all of your boxes.
What program is best for you?
When you’re going to study abroad there isn’t just a one-size-fits-all. There are SO many programs available that can fit in with just about any schedule.
I worked full-time through college to pay for school so I couldn’t take much time off to study abroad for a full semester. Instead, I saved up for a month-long Spanish immersion program in Spain between Spring and Fall semesters.
I lived with a local family, became conversationally fluent in Spanish and earned 9 college units to complete my language requirement for my Business Finance degree.
Does study abroad benefit your major?
The next step is to determine whether a study abroad program compliments your major or not. At the end of the day, you want to choose something that will benefit your area of study and fulfill your academic requirements. You don’t want to return home and find that your study abroad credits don’t count towards your college degree.
Social and Extra-Curricular Activity Opportunities
Study abroad programs are a fantastic way to get you out of your comfort zone and reach your full potential. While researching the best program for you, take note of what social networking opportunities and extra-curricular activities are available to you.
What Type of Housing Would You Prefer?
Things like housing may vary with different programs. You might be living in a dorm with other students or with a local family depending on the program.
Housing can play a big part in your study abroad experience. I was able to live with local families during my time in Spain and it awarded me a culturally enriching experience.
Consider Costs Involved
Some schools work with exchange programs where there is no additional cost to study abroad than for normal tuition. There are even study abroad scholarships within certain majors and at different schools.
Research the options at your university and also at local community colleges to see what is available to you within your budget. Each program comes with different costs, whether it’s tuition, flights, cost of living or accommodation.
Keep in mind that you are essentially funding what could very be one of the most important life experiences you will ever have and that is priceless.
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