What to Consider When Studying Abroad
A practical guide on things to consider when contemplating study abroad.
You may have heard the quote, ‘travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer’. Indeed, travelling to a new country—especially for study—can be an enriching experience. An international education also allows you to visit a new country, meet new people from around the globe, and get a head start on living independently. Studying abroad however, is a big commitment and there is a lot to consider when making this decision.
Here are a few points to get you started:
Questions to Ask Yourself
It’s important to think about why you want to pursue a degree internationally and how it fits into your larger educational goals. Take time to think about the reasons you want to go. Some of the questions to ask yourself are: Are you prepared to spend a long time away from your home and family? Will you be able to assimilate into the new country’s culture? Do you have the means to pay for your education? Will you have to make significant lifestyle changes and are you prepared to do this? Ask yourself these questions in earnest.
The Planning Process
The next step is to start planning, and do so early. Searching for the right college is just the first step. Narrow your search to about five colleges. Make sure that you meet all of the basic entry and program requirements. Apart from application prep, you’ll also need to plan for your life abroad, including obtaining a passport and visa, and learning as much as you can about the country and the university you will be moving to.
Funding Your Trip
Studying in another country is often much more expensive than at a local college, so you’ll need to know how much it will cost and start saving accordingly. Besides tuition, there are other expenses to consider as well, such as the cost of books, room and board, and personal expenses (we recommend that you enjoy and explore the new community you live at least a bit). There might be scholarships and financial aid you qualify for, so look into those options as well.
Explore Extracurricular Activities
When searching for the right school, expand your scope beyond academic programs to include the extracurricular activities offered.The best way to make new friends is to mingle with people who enjoy the same activities as you; this can be through university clubs and organisations, a sport, or living in a themed residence hall.
Prepare for Challenges
While studying abroad will possibly become one of your most memorable life experiences, it can present several challenges. Some students become homesick and most experience varying degrees of culture shock while living in a new country. Language may also be a barrier. These challenges are more likely to occur if you have not lived away from home on your own before. Discuss these challenges with those close to you before leaving, so you have a sense of what to expect.
On a positive note, think of these challenges as part of your education outside the classroom—a valuable one that will mould you into a more mature individual with a unique background. If studying abroad is what you want to do, go for it! With some careful planning, your time spent abroad will be amazing.
About the Author: Liz Witbeck loves to help college students with their educational goals, including studying abroad. In her spare time she enjoys reading, writing, and traveling the globe. She received her master’s degree from California Polytechnic State University.