How to Make the Most of Study Abroad

Are you one of those students that salivates over the study abroad brochures located in the student activities office? If your dream is to venture to Europe, Asia, Australia or other far off places for a semester, you will need to prepare well in advance. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your study abroad experience:

Find Good Program

Not all study abroad programs are alike. Ask other students who have studied abroad and some will say that they had a wonderful, cultural experience in another country and learned a lot. But there may be a few others that experienced less than stellar programs.

Work with your school to find accredited study abroad programs that are affiliated with your university. You and your counselor should explore the course of study, to make sure that your credits will transfer when you return.

In addition, it’s EXTREMELY important to evaluate the program’s accommodations and the safety of the country or countries you will be visiting. You need to know whether you will be staying at another university’s dorm or with a local family.

Start Saving

Study abroad programs aren’t cheap, but you can find some that are comparable with your university’s costs, especially if you are doing an exchange program with an affiliated college. The program costs might be covered by your financial aid and student loans, but it’s the travel and miscellaneous expenses you should start saving for. You’ll want to book international student travel well in advance to get the best rates.

You’ll probably want to use your time abroad to travel to different places, immerse in various cultures, try new foods and bring back souvenirs. Some travel may be included in your program experience, so be sure to check the fine print before you make a final decision.

Just remember, you don’t want to be stuck in only one place because you’re out of cash!

Learn Another Language

In addition to your culture experiences, consider learning another language while you study abroad. If you have the chance, work with your professors, mentors and friends while abroad to hone your linguistic skills.

Learning another language will help enhance your experiences while you are abroad, and enable you to interact more effectively with the people around you. In addition, when you enter the job market, you will possess a rare and valuable skill. It will be worth the effort for years to come!

Develop Relationships

Studying abroad can be like going to a new school. You probably won’t know anyone when you first arrive and that can be a little intimidating.

Make an effort to develop new friendships whenever possible. Your study abroad classmates may be planning travels across the country and you won’t want to miss that.

The people you meet abroad may become your family’s next exchange student or a future business contact. Be open to all that your study abroad experience offers. After all, that’s why you’re there, right?