How to Choose a Study Abroad Program
Studying abroad can be exciting and yet challenging as you maneuver your way from the complexity of adjusting to a new academic, social and cultural environment. Whether you are contemplating a post-graduate program, a foreign language immersion study or simply a semester abroad, one of the most important decisions you need to make is choosing a study abroad program that suits aligns with your goals and aspirations.
Here are some things to consider for a study abroad program:
Start off with self reflection to consider the location and where you believe you will get the best experience out of your time abroad. Are you looking for unique cultural experience or a full immersion language program or both? This is the stage to reflect on the reasons for moving abroad.
If you are looking to learn a new language and discover a new culture, then choose a destination with a very different culture from yours and be fully prepared to embrace the change. However, if your motives are academically driven, then you can choose a program with a steady academic calendar that isn’t too rigorous because you will still need time to adjust to your new cultural environment.
You’re not in this alone. Seek counsel or guidance from a professional, experts or from other students who have experienced a study abroad program or have lived in your preferred destination. By seeking advice from professionals, even at your home university, you may learn that the university has established partnerships and learning agreements with international schools abroad. Knowing which programs already exist may help narrow down the selection process, and you’ll have access to representatives to help you coordinate your choice of program and relocation.
Regional and international exchange mobility schemes like the Erasmus plus in the European Union (EU), AFS and many more exist in many countries. Speaking to a counselor or expert can assist you in finding out which one works best for your situation.There is so much information available if you are willing to take the time to look or ask a professional.
Program and Requirements
Most colleges and universities with study abroad programs have requirements that need to be met at the home university and at the international study abroad program, including the duration of a program and the type of program accepted. Check the requirements and criteria provided by the host university. If your program is under a partnership or exchange agreement with your college or university, it is likely you won’t have any problem meeting the requirements based on the learning agreement between the study abroad programs.
Prepare Finances and Financial Aid
Surprisingly, there are many scholarship and financial aid schemes available for study abroad programs. However, some universities can be rather expensive or the city in which the university is can have a higher cost of living than your home city. It’s important to understand your budget for such an international experience to help guide you on what finances are needed and what financial aid would be required to fulfill your study abroad plans.
Do sufficient research to find the tuition fees of the study abroad program and what resources are available for you to finance your program.
Narrow Down your Options
After going through the crucial steps mentioned, you should have a list of potential schools and study abroad programs that align with your goals and objectives for studying abroad. Now it should be easier to narrow down the list to the few clear-cut choices. Going through this process will help you prepare a better study abroad application and it’ll even get you more excited about the adventure to study abroad.
Planning a study abroad experience can be hectic, but it is an unforgettable experience which offers fantastic opportunities. Taking the time to select the best study abroad program that matches your interests and educational goals will guarantee that you have the best international experience possible.