Tips For Choosing a Study Abroad Program

Studying abroad is an opportunity for almost every college student these days. With plenty of financial aid available for most study abroad programs, and programs for every semester including the summer, no student should attend college without studying abroad.

Next fall semester, I will be studying abroad and from researching study abroad programs, I have come up with a list of tips for you. It is very important to research and look into your study abroad options. Factors such as the host nation, housing, and your field of study all weigh very heavily in deciding which program to choose when studying abroad. Let’s look at how to study abroad…

[MD’s note: I wish I studied abroad to be honest. I’m always thrilled to post any article that discusses working or traveling abroad.]

Where to Study Abroad? How to study abroad?

Where you choose to study abroad depends on your personal preferences. Do you want to study abroad in a hot location, where you can sit on the beach every day? If the answer is yes, go to Australia or a country in South America. However, if you want to be able to travel to a handful of countries when studying abroad, maybe you should choose to live in Europe. In Europe, whether you choose to live in Italy or England, flights are very cheap and traveling is a highlight to the program. However, if you choose to study abroad in Australia or another island, traveling is difficult. Flights will be much longer and much more expensive.

In addition, another factor to take in mind when deciding where to study is the language of the nation. One reason I chose to study abroad in London is because I will be able to speak the same language as the citizens there. If you choose to study abroad in Italy, you better know how to speak Italian pretty well or else you will only really interact with your American peers studying in Italy.

With this in mind, if you feel confident that you can speak the foreign language, then study in a country with people that speak your secondary language. However, if you are not confident, then choose a nation which suits your primary language.

Dealing With Housing.

The housing offered through your study abroad program can make or break your experience abroad.

One housing option which I would stay away from is living with a host family. Living with a host family takes away your independence and forces you to live with a family that you may not even like. You become part of the family, eating meals with them and listening to their problems. Some may enjoy this because you are around the culture 24/7, but I would not recommend it.

The next most common housing option is living in apartments with other American students at the program. This is an ideal situation because you will live with peers in a similar situation as yours. You keep your independence by cooking your own meals, and setting your own curfews. Some may not like this option because students can distance themselves from the host country and live within a bubble. This is a possible negative factor of this housing option, however it’s up to the student to make the most of their time in the country.

What About Field of Study?

What you choose to major in may be the biggest factor in deciding where to study abroad. Being a finance major, I chose to study in London because it is the finance capital of Europe. Those who major in art may want to study somewhere in Europe, where you are constantly surrounded by famous art. While those who major in medicine may want to study abroad in Africa, where one can gain hands on experience with eradicating life threatening diseases.

In addition, a program may allow you to get an internship in the host country. I would highly recommend a program that offers this because it allows students to show future employees that they did something other than party and travel while studying abroad.

With all this in my mind, I recommend you to start researching your study abroad options. There are many more options to take account of when choosing your study abroad programs. Look into what the program offers and make a wise decision based on your preferences.

Do you know anyone that has studied abroad? Did you leave home to study? Do you wish you did?

This was a guest post from Jeff at The Wall Street Chalkboard. Hopefully at this point you know how to study abroad in college to expand your horizons.

3 thoughts on “Tips For Choosing a Study Abroad Program”

  1. Great writeup, question though. I am also a Finance major about to begin my sophomore year. How did you get started with the study abroad app process? any tips? Also, were you able to obtain an internship in London? I would love to go there and get a semester internship at one of the top British banks. What year did you go? Sophomore, junior? Also, what type of financial assistance were you able to obtain? how much did it cost you our-of-pocket in addition to University tuition?

    1. David,
      Speak with the study abroad office at your school and then they will lead you in the right direction. However, if your college doesn’t have a great reputation with study abroad, then you’ll have to do a lot of the work for yourself. I’ll be studying abroad in the fall(my junior year). Also, I chose the Boston University Program located in London, because they guarantee you an internship based on your major. I spoke on the phone with the internship placement company the other day and they really just asked me where I wanted to work, and what my future job interests are. As for the program, it’s really interesting: 6 weeks of 2 classes and then 8 weeks of an internship. In regards to the financial aid, I’m not quite sure how much I got. I do know that they matched the same aid that I receive while attending college here in the US. Best of luck to you!

  2. Great write up! I studied abroad in Spain while studying for my Spanish degree. And I lived with a host family. The benefits are being totally immersed in the language and learning phrases that you won’t learn in school.
    For example, with my host family I learned that they say “take a bridge” when referring to skipping work or school the Friday that comes after a Thursday holiday to make a fuller weekend. And from my conversation partner I learn that they also refer to a party with too many guys as a “sausage fest”! That is not something I would have learned living with fellow Americans.

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