The College Student’s Guide To Studying Abroad

Every college student dreams of studying abroad (or at least they should). I mean why not? Doing exactly what they’re doing at their home college, but abroad! I’ve been presented with an extensive list of excuses why not to study abroad; price, FOMO (fear of missing out), fear in general, etc, etc. It’s all BS. College should be a time to step outside of your comfort zone. This includes studying abroad. I’ve created this guide to provide a step-by-step analysis to getting yourself where you want to be.

Choosing a Program

The first thing you need to think about is ‘what are your academic goals?’ Are you interested in a semester, year, or break abroad? Are you interested in receiving Major related credit? Minor related credit? General education credit?

Do you have a specific country you’re interested in going to? These are all questions you need to seriously consider! Believe it or not, there are more programs out there than you could possibly sift through. Narrowing down your wishes will help you locate the perfect program for you.

Every college/university, that I am aware of, has their version of a Center for International Education. My school has one of the best, and intuitive, websites. If you can’t figure your schools out, I suggest stopping by their office.

If you can’t find a program that fits for you at your own university, 3rd Party Providers are always an options. Some of the best ones are:

If you cant find anything on one of these sites, GoAbroad.com and StudyAbroad.com are great central pages that can direct you where you want to go. They use an algorithm containing your desired length of time and academic interests to narrow down your best options.

Finances

The number one excuse I hear for not studying abroad is the costs. It’s the exact same excuse I get for not travelling in the first place. I’ll give you the same, obvious, answer I give everyone: do your research! That’s all it is! If you take the time and put in the effort, you can make studying abroad affordable.

Scholarships

There is a lot of money out there to be given out! People are literally searching for worthy students to give money to. A simple Google search of “Study Abroad Scholarships” results in 28,000,000 results. Websites like StudyAbroad.com/scholarships and NAFSA are great resources for finding free money!

Those above are just external scholarships! Your home university may have some of their own. I know the University of Mary Washington offers a handful of scholarships, many of which go unclaimed every year. What that means to you is, their up for grabs!

Choosing an Inexpensive Program

Not all study abroad options are expensive, though I promise you, If you want to spend a lot of money it’s possible. However, the university that I will be studying at in Prague will actually cost less that what I pay per semester here at UMW! That was one of the main reasons I chose CESP University of Economics. Now, my university is no joke! It’s an accredited academic institution, but it’s located in a country where the USD is strong, and therefor my dollar can go a lot further.

Programs in let’s say Australia or New Zealand or UK are going to be on the more expensive side. On the flip side, universities in Eastern Europe or Central/South America will be on the inexpensive side.

Work For It!

I wrote awhile ago, in a previous post, about how to save up money to travel. Saving for studying abroad is no different! Stop binge drinking on the weekends, stop injecting yourself with coffee, work! All that money that you don’t spend on unnecessary things accumulates extremely quickly!

Pre-Departure Necessities

Now that you’ve been accepted to your program, and now that you’ve figured out how you’re going to pay for it, it’s time to tie up some loose ends here at home. This includes mail forwarding forms, notice to vacates from your university housing, notice to move back in upon return, course request forms for the following semester, etc. etc.

Read some material! Learn from your predecessors. Learn from their mistakes, learn from their triumph, embrace their knowledge! Experience is the best information someone can give.

Closing Remarks

Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity. There will never be a time in your life again when going abroad for six months makes logistical sense. Not only will you have the greatest experience ever, but that experience can be turned around to a resumé builder too! Employers love to see international experience and exposure. Having spent a semester abroad will set you apart from just the average Shmo. Don’t be an average Shmo.

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