Have you ever considered studying abroad? If you have always dreamed of living in another country, learning a new language and meeting new people, studying in a foreign place is your chance to do all this while acquiring school credits.
It might seem overwhelming at first. Choosing if you should go, what you should study and where you should travel is a big decision. It requires careful thinking and research. If you’ve ever dreamed about studying abroad, here is some information to help get your thinking process off to a productive start.
Determine if you want to go. Studying abroad can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn about the world and yourself. It’s an extraordinary way to experience another city or country first-hand, rather than from a book. It turns a new city into your classroom, enabling you to learn skills that can’t be mastered sitting at a desk. For instance, not only do study abroad programs enable you to earn a credit to help you graduate, but it can also be an exciting way to experience a new culture. When you’re in a new place, you get to try local foods, pick up a language or perfect one you’ve been learning at home.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]gain confidence, become more self-reliant[/pullquote]
You will experience history and immerse yourself in a different environment on a daily basis. Even as you find your way around a new city, you will become more independent and meet new people in the process. You will gain confidence, become more self-reliant and get out of your comfort zone. While this sounds great, you know yourself better than anyone. Are you ready to leave home for a few weeks or a semester? Do you have friends who will be making the trip with you? These are things to consider, because as fun and exciting as studying abroad can be, you have to be ready to make the trip.
Figure out what you want to study and where. Now that you’ve decided studying abroad is for you, there are other things to consider. Are you interested in earning a language credit, studying English in the birthplace of Shakespeare himself or discovering history in a place that’s captured your imagination since you were little? These are all things to think about.
What you study and where you study are often linked. Certain programs may be available in some cities, but not others. If you don’t speak the language of the host country, you might have a harder time studying there than in another place. On the other hand, this could be your chance to brush up on your French or Spanish, for instance, and you may want that immersive experience. Speak to your parents and guidance counsellor about making the right course selection for you. There are also resources online to help you find the right course and city to meet your needs.
Budget accordingly. Studying abroad can be expensive. There’s the flight, tuition and room and board to consider, not to mention meals, transportation, excursions and entertainment. Do you have money saved? Can your parents help? Have you researched financial aid and scholarship options that can offset some of the cost?
If this is something you really want to do, it might be a good idea to start saving in advance. Get a part-time job and set money aside so you can travel abroad in the future. Perhaps you can even work while you’re there to earn money. What about considering ways to save money? Perhaps you can have a roommate or live with a host family when you’re abroad. These are options, and ones your guidance counsellor can discuss with you when you meet to chat about studying abroad.
Of course, you’ll need to do your research and establish a budget. It’s important to figure out how much you can anticipate to spend in a given city. What is the currency exchange rate? Is the city relatively expensive or inexpensive? How much will you need to earn or save to afford the cost?
Prepare for your trip. Once you’ve chosen to study abroad and selected a program, place and budget, you’ll want to prepare for your trip. What are the visa requirements for the country in which you will be studying? Is your passport up to date? Do you have travel and health insurance in case you become ill while you’re away? Often your school can help you with these things, but it’s best to be aware of these matters yourself as well.
There are often other things to consider, too. Do you need any vaccinations? Go to the bank and ensure you have the proper currency and enough of it. Do you also have debit cards or credit cards? You’ll want to let your bank know of your travel plans in advance.
Make sure you have all your travel information handy, as well as names and address for where you’re staying and studying. Do you have travel guides handy? Check luggage restrictions to make sure you don’t pack too much. You’ll also want to ensure you’ve packed correctly.
Have you also checked the weather in the city in which you’ll be staying? Some winters are milder than others, and some summers (like in Australia) are colder than ours.
Go online, read travel guides, talk to others who have been abroad and prepare accordingly for a life changing trip.