Are you thinking about studying abroad? Maybe you’ve been looking at different countries and not really sure where to go. Well, have no fear!
Here are 10 solid tips for a semester abroad:
1. Pick somewhere you will be able to get around easily and comfortably. It’s awful when you’re constantly getting lost while trying to get to class or an event; it wastes your time and makes you late.
2. Try to pick a country that speaks English (to some degree). Or, if necessary, make sure there is someone who will be able to help translate for you. But obviously don’t disregard the other languages out there; they all add up in creating a rich world of experiences.
3. Look into what classes will be offered where you’re going. Do your due diligence and make sure you know what your classes will look like before you go.
4. Figure out all of the costs involved with studying abroad. You may find out that it actually costs twice as much as expected if you haven’t done a lot of research beforehand.
5. Don’t forget about money-saving strategies for when you go abroad! For example, travelling during the weekends is generally cheaper than travelling on weekdays (because hostel prices drop significantly). So plan to travel a lot on the weekends.
6. Try not to take too many courses while studying abroad; more than 4 can be overwhelming. I’m saying this from experience! Also, keep in mind that some universities won’t allow you to take more than a certain number of courses in one semester, so check with your university before going abroad.
7. Try to do some research on your home institution’s credit system for studying abroad to make sure that the classes will transfer back and won’t be a waste of time when you get home. For example, my university has a maximum of 4 credits per class. So if I took 15 credits while studying abroad, it would count as 6 courses at home (15/4 = 3.75; 4 is rounded up). Some universities may not accept any course lower than a B, but my university accepts anything from A+ to C-. If you want to study overseas for more than 1 semester, look into transferring back home for good.
8. Make sure your host university is legitimate and you will still be able to get in touch with them if anything goes wrong while abroad.
9. Study abroad if you can, but don’t worry too much if it’s not feasible financially or practically at the moment; it’s better to plan ahead and start saving instead of putting it off until later (such as after graduating college). Or maybe even look into working during the semester(s) when you’re not studying abroad. Just make sure that nothing bad happens (like getting swindled by a fake program), because there are some less-than-scrupulous programs out there. So always do research beforehand!
10. Try to live in a homestay or off-campus housing if you are able to. It’s great to experience living in an actual home with locals. It’s less “temporary” feeling, and it opens up the world to more opportunities. And if possible try having friends over for dinner or movies. If that isn’t practical, then at least try hanging out with your roommates! …it sounds kind of dumb, but trust me, sometimes just sitting on your floor together can do wonders.
So there you have it! These are 10 solid tips for studying abroad that I wish somebody would’ve told me years ago…or maybe somebody is telling you right now….who knows? But for all those thinking about studying abroad, hopefully, these tips will be helpful!