Studying abroad is an amazing experience, one that you’ll carry with you for a lifetime. But choosing the right school and program isn’t always easy. You have to consider more than just the classes and credits you’ll earn during your time overseas. You also have to consider the country you’ll be in, the quality of life you’ll have and the culture you’ll be immersing yourself in.
How far are you willing to branch outside of your comfort zone? Are you okay living in a country where you will be reliant on others to communicate until you learn a foreign language? Do you want to travel while you’re abroad or just explore one country as you study? With so many questions to consider, the choices can get overwhelming. This post will help you by providing some general guidelines and criteria to look out for when choosing a school.
Financial Aid Packages
Tuition is generally more affordable in foreign countries, but that can change depending on the school, currency conversion rate and your degree program. Financial aid packages that help American students study abroad should be flexible to accommodate a variety of different educational experiences. Federal student aid is accepted at schools on this list. If your school is not on the list or you require additional funding, then you may consider borrowing a student loan from a private lender. Private student loan money is generally dispersed twice annually by your school. This means that after the necessary funds cover your tuition, the remainder will be sent to your bank account. Planning ahead will allow you to allocate enough savings on top of any money you need to pay for your education.
Make Sure You Know the Prerequisites
You may get your hopes set on a certain school only to realize there are language prerequisites to study there. Many students begin planning to study abroad a year or two before they actually leave. This allows them to learn enough of the language to live comfortably, communicate with natives and be self-sufficient. Some foreign schools require students to know a language in order to take classes, submit assignments and even take exams. You may even be required to take some subject courses in the country’s language. If you are unable to say more than simple greetings, this option won’t be for you. Luckily, there are plenty of American institutions abroad or international programs that offer courses entirely in English.
Ask Your School for Advice
Speak to your school’s study abroad office about different opportunities. The advisors will be able to offer personalized suggestions on the best schools and programs for your major. You can also have them walk you through the entire application process, including transferring credits and financial aid. It’s also helpful to inform your academic advisor about your desires to study overseas. They may be able to help you choose the right classes and help you structure your program to better fit what you’ll learn abroad.
Choose Your Duration Wisely
Traveling abroad to study will not last as long as traveling abroad for your career would, but that does not mean the timeline should be ignored. Many students envision themselves studying overseas for years, but the reality of living in a foreign country without anyone is not as glamorous. Homesickness happens to everyone to some degree. You’ll miss your friends, family and familiarities. It may be best for you to start off with one semester abroad. You can extend your program or return the following year. Semester programs are also the most affordable, so they are a great option for students who do not want to figure out how to finance an entire program overseas.