Are you excited about studying in another country? The prospect of spending a summer, semester, or entire academic year abroad is one of the best things about earning a degree. However, it’s crucial for students to do research about programs and select carefully from the many options. Year abroad opportunities include nearly every subject area, nation, and level of expertise. Whether you’re a first-year or graduate student, there’s a year abroad program for you. The trick is finding the right fit.
Because there are so many potential choices, be prepared to spend several hours doing online research, making phone calls, and speaking to academic advisors to gather essential information. In addition to the research phase of your plan, expect to arrange for financing early in the process. Then, once you decide where you’ll be spending your year abroad, learn how to maximize personal safety, make valuable connections with foreign students and instructors, and possibly learn a new language. No two year abroad experiences are identical, so consider the following suggestions for choosing the one that best fits your goals and personal preferences.
Doing Your Research
Studying abroad is quite different than simply choosing your next vacation destination for pleasure. So, speak with academic advisors, instructors, and students who have studied in foreign countries to gain insight about costs, potential challenges, and how to find the best foreign schools. Spend several hours doing online research. Check out several review sites that specialize in evaluating particular academic opportunities for prospective year abroad students.
Covering the Expenses
Getting accepted to a program is one thing, but paying for it is an entirely separate issue. In many cases, the cost of studying overseas is much higher than what you pay for domestic tuition. For faraway destinations, air fare alone can amount to several thousand dollars. The good news is that you can contact a private lender and take out a student loan to make up the difference. Or, if you haven’t yet begun college, work with a private lender to finance the entire cost of your degree.
Staying Safe in a Foreign Country
Some places are just safer than others. Get honest information about personal safety in the country where you’ll be living. Find out about dormitory security, off-campus living, and what current students in the program do to make sure they don’t encounter crime-related problems. If, for any reason, you feel as if the situation poses a threat, consider choosing a different opportunity. Even if the educational experience is top-notch, there’s no reason to put your health and well-being at risk.
Learning a New Language
If you must be proficient in a foreign language to attend the overseas school of your choice, be sure to take and pass any screening examinations as soon as possible. Fortunately, most foreign schools offer English instruction and do not require fluency in the local language. But, even in those situations, consider taking at least an introductory course in the native language so you can enjoy a more extended social life off-campus. Also, consider checking out some of the free online language courses before heading overseas. Free online instruction is a fun, fast way to pick up basic phrases and vocabulary in a short period.