Searching for the right study abroad program is an important first step to having a great, life-changing study-abroad experience. The search process can lead you to that study abroad program which will fit your needs and your wish list. If you want to find a study abroad program for a year, a semester, or even just summer, the search process can be aided along by many different resources.
If you are in college or attending a university, the chances are your first study abroad search stop is going to be your school’s study abroad advisor or department. This is the person or the people who are trained and experienced in helping students at your specific school find information about study abroad opportunities. And if your college’s programs aren’t right for you (you’re a chemistry major and they offer a semester-at-sea) the study abroad advisor(s) can point you in the direction of more suitable programs.
And don’t overlook what your faculty advisor or other teachers may be able to tell you about studying abroad. They have had many other students come through looking to leave home for a while and study some place new and exciting. An advisor or professor in your major may be able to “hook you up” with foreign schools that have great programs in your field or may know people at colleges abroad who can be of help.
While you’re doing a campus-based search, don’t forget to talk to previous travelers – students who’ve studied abroad before you. Not only can they talk to you about programs and other practical matters, but they give you the inside scoop on how the programs are in terms of social life, travel experiences, and other day-to-day issues you might want to hear about from a student’s perspective. And if you have your heart set on going to a certain country and know students on campus who are from that country, see if you can talk to them (maybe with a translator!) about what they might recommend. Maybe they are exchange students, and you can take a place at their college.
Another important thing you can learn from checking with on-campus sources, particularly advisors and faculty, is what your school’s requirements are. You don’t want to enter a study abroad program and find out none of the credits you earn transfer to your home school – not if there are comparable programs that do give you credits you can use.
After you speak to sources on campus, check out external sources like colleges/universities in the country you want to visit, internet sites cataloging study abroad programs, and even travel agents.
For instance, if you’re searching for a study abroad program in London, get online and see what schools are there. Then contact the schools and see if they have programs for students such as yourself. If possible, correspond with admissions counselors at those schools and get the whole story. Or, contact other American programs sponsoring study abroad programs where you’d like to be. They can also send you information about their programs.
Travel agents can be a last resort if you’re looking to go to some place exotic. Maybe there aren’t a lot of readily available study abroad programs to say, Turkmenistan – but perhaps an industrious travel agent can find some educational tour package for you.
Whether you want to go to the other side of the earth or just off shore or over the board, you can have a great time studying abroad. The biggest decision may well be picking the right program. Do your research, check and double check credentials, and as the buyer – beware. But with some work, you can find the right study abroad program for you.