Study Abroad Overview

Last year more than 350,000 college students studied abroad and got academic credit, even more when abroad after graduation or didn’t seek credit. What behind this growing trend, why are more and more American students headed overseas.

Reasons for studying abroad are different for every student. Most students wish to push their individual boundaries by exploring new cultures and learning new things.  Study Abroad for personal growth and academic reasons.  When we say study abroad, we also include internships, service learning/volunteer and intensive language programs

Studying abroad can also be a strong addition to a resume.  Spending time overseas demonstrates independence, responsibility and maturity. Of course, much depends on what you gain from your study-abroad experience and how you present it. Think of ways to expand your experience beyond the standard coursework: volunteer in your new community, start a blog to write about your semester, or use your travels to inspire a creative project or academic thesis upon your return.

Here are some reasons collected from student testimonials. Maybe one will resonate with you:

  • Real-world preparedness: “I gained so much confidence and independence from my travels that I feel a lot more prepared to enter the real world.”
  • Global perspective: “I learned that the world is a much bigger and smaller place all at the same time. This program made me realize that my life dream of traveling the world is possible, and we are all more interconnected than we think.”
  • Personal growth: “I feel that I gained an immeasurable amount of patience from the experience, both in dealing with a country completely different from my own and dealing with the different kinds of students [who] show up.”
  • Unique opportunities: “I got to see some of the most beautiful places and got to experience things I never thought I would. I also pushed my limits and faced fears.”

Finding the right study abroad program for you:

Study abroad programs come in a variety of forms from a variety of program providers each has a special niche. We suggest you look for programs that will match your personal and academic goals and your personality. If you want it to show on your transcript, check first with your home school or university to see if they will accept the academic credits you would earn through the program(s) you are considering.

Once you have a found a program with a strong fit, research the support offered while abroad (such as health care, emergency and crisis support, and counseling services). Read student reviews from sources other than the program’s website and try to find alumni who are willing to talk with you individually.

Although the sticker price might shock you, there are many ways to make study abroad experiences affordable. Research what options you have at your school or university — many schools offer financial aid for study abroad programs; others will cover the program’s cost as part of your tuition. You can also apply for grants and scholarships from outside sources and consider crowd funding options – we like GoEnnounce –

Shorter programs (such as those offered during the summer) are usually less expensive than semester-long programs and many universities have direct enrollment options that mean less creature comforts and hand holding, but big savings. Unusual study abroad locations — such as smaller cities in China, Central America, Africa, and South Korea — offer significantly less expensive programs than those in Australia, Western Europe, or the U.K. The less-common country choices and the smaller cities tend to have a dramatically lower cost of living, so your dollar will go very far.

Another option is to squeeze study abroad in between semesters through short-term programs nicknamed J-Term (January) or Maymester. For students with rigorous majors or specific academic requirements, short-term programs offer a great way to experience a culture abroad without interfering with studies at home.

English?  Fuhgeddaboudit!

A second language will give you a huge benefit in your career and many students begin their education abroad experience with little or no knowledge of a foreign language, which is OK.  Just about every foreign language program offers support for the inexperienced speaker.  You will learn fast, they call it immersion and there’s no better way to learn a language than to jump in, take a pledge not to speak English and soak in your new talent.  Foreign language speakers will appreciate your efforts to learn their language and you’ll be surprised at the new friends you make when you try to communicate with them on their terms.  One of the most powerful ways to learn a language is to include a homestay as part of your study abroad.  Stay with a local family, pay room and board and you’ll not only have someone looking out after you, you’ll eat, speak and act like a local in no time!

Is Rwanda really safer than Paris for studying abroad?

No matter where your program is, the best way to stay safe is to be smart and prepared. Visitors are often perceived as targets, so don’t wander too far alone. Review and know what resources and support are available to you in case of an emergency. Don’t be afraid to ask questions before you go! Although many assume that western countries are the safest places to study abroad, this is not always the case.

Read the reviews. Get to know the provider’s local connections and staff.  Consider programs with host families or home stays; we have read many reports about local communities and families taking the role of host very seriously, providing an additional source of protection and support for their guest students.  Most of all, realize that people in the world are generally welcoming and friendly if you act the same.  You dress funny, you sound funny and you act funny – they don’t!  You are a guest in their country and the more you embrace it, the more you’ll enjoy it.

Start with some of the programs listed here and explore the world!

Study Abroad Programs in France (NEXT PAGE) >>>

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