In 2015, over 313,000 people studied abroad, which is roughly 1.5% of students enrolled in higher education. So what should you consider before applying to study abroad? Where do people go, and why do they study there?
Just like real estate, studying abroad is all about location. Here are a list of things to consider when deciding where to study:
- Language: Like a lot of students, you want to study abroad to learn/improve your language skills. This is a great goal, but make sure you have a basic understanding of your target country’s language. It’s also important to make sure that the courses you take are in a language you understand – some abroad programs only offer the country’s language for instruction.
- Travel Opportunities: One of the reasons that European countries are so popular for study abroad programs is that you can travel all across the continent easily. On the other hand, some people select certain programs specifically to immerse themselves in a city. Whichever you prefer is completely up to you, but make sure you’re aware of how possible it is to travel elsewhere if it matters to you.
- School relevance: Study abroad programs are great for resume building. The city where you study plays a role in this too, not just the country. There might be a more attractive program in Dublin, but if you’re a business major, studying in London, a European business hub, will look more impressive.
It’s important that the program where you want to study offers courses that you can transfer back to your college. When possible, get syllabi from classes you’re interested in taking and bring them to your academic advisor. Especially in countries that speak a foreign language, the program may require you to study the local language. Make sure that these courses will transfer so that you can still graduate on time. Some colleges even offer credit simply for studying abroad, typically dubbed “experiential learning.”
Studying abroad is typically more expensive than a semester at home, especially when accounting for all of the supplies you’ll need. Along with tuition, you’ll have to pay for housing and airfare. Depending on where you go, you may also need a passport as well as special visas if traveling somewhere like China. Not to mention certain areas, particularly Europe, have higher costs of living compared to the United States.
You’ll obviously also want to explore your new city while you’re abroad, which can get expensive. Public transportation, food, souvenirs, can all rack up pretty quickly. Make sure you have a bank account that doesn’t have any international fees, so that you don’t pay extra on conversion rates. Check with your bank before leaving the country. You can check out some study abroad scholarships here.
Is the program right for you? If your school offers many study abroad programs, they can usually put you into contact with students that have gone through the same program as you. Talk with them at a study abroad fair, or contact them through the school office. Ask about what they liked and disliked, and make sure it’s the right fit for you. Studying abroad is expensive and can quickly make you homesick. The last thing you want is to spend of that money, fly across the world, and realize you’d rather be home.
Ready to put your study abroad experience on your resume? Check out our resume guide here.
Questions? Comments? Reach out.
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