As International Education Week rolls around, tons of information will be thrown down your throat about opportunities, scholarships, financial aid, etc etc etc. Now while all of this information is helpful, it may be a little overwhelming. Trust me as I would know from experience. You tend to get all worked up, coming up with one cool idea for where to go, and then an even cooler one sprouts up in your mind. For me, this happened about four times, and I STILL don’t know where I’m going.
As the time to get started draws closer and you become more anxious, it’s easy to become flustered and upset because you don’t know what you’re doing. But that is why I am writing this. I am here to help you get started, point you in the right direction, and introduce you to the right people you need to be in contact with.
For starters, the University of Mary Washington’s Center for International Education (CIE) has staff members who are more then willing to sit down one-on-one with you to help you through this process. They will make sure you have your forms filled correctly and that you’re staying on track to have a successful time abroad. If you still don’t know where you’re going, whether you have a blossoming idea that you need to be concreted, or you have absolutely no clue, they will help you.
For those of you who don’t know where you want to go and for how long, you have a few options. UMW offers both Faculty Led programs as well as Independent programs. On the CIE’s website, in a well laid out manner, they display which programs are offered. These can be organized by the region, discipline, or name of the program. Typically, the faculty led programs are during school holidays (i.e. spring break, winter break, summer).
If you were interested in an independent program, the CIE has a list of approved programs that they believe are worthy and acceptable curriculums. There are a few different lengths of study abroad: Semester, Full Year, and Summer. Have no fear! If where you want to go is not on their approved list, it IS possible to petition for it to be approved. It is then up to the CIE’s discretion whether or not they think it is an appropriate program.
Many of their approved programs are through third party companies. Some of the major ones include SIT, ISA, IES, GoAbroad and so on. It’s not hard to find programs, all you have to do is a little research.
Once you’ve decided what you’d like to do, the CIE advisors will have you register for it on EagleNet. This just helps them organize who’s attempting to study abroad and where they’re interested in going.
When the time comes, you will apply to the university/program you’re attempting to attend. Assuming you get in, UMW and the international program will help you through the next few steps. These include, but are not limited to:
2) Class Registration
3) Finding housing (if the host university does not provide it)
Once everything is set in stone, you’re ready for your trip. The two main things both universities want you to get from this experience is 1) Broaden your knowledge and gain useful knowledge and 2) have fun. Traveling is something that not everybody gets to experience. Enjoy your time, have fun, but don’t forget why you’re at school; to get an education.