Beyond the Classroom: Here’s How to Find the Best Study Abroad Program for You! Amy Wiener October 12, 2021 Student Travel, Travel Tips There are probably a million things going through your head while making the decision of whether or not to study abroad. But if you’ve decided to go, the best is yet to come. Choosing where to spend your semester or year abroad is a tough decision, but if you weigh your options, an informed decision will likely leave you with few regrets. Studying abroad, whether it’s just for a semester or an entire year, can be an unforgettable experience that you’ll be thinking about years from now. From financial considerations to topics of interest, here’s how to find a study abroad program that’s right for you. Make a List of Places You’ve Always Wanted to Visit The first decision that needs to be made when deciding on a study abroad program is figuring out the destination. Has there always been a region or culture that has drawn you in? Maybe this destination is your calling? Make a list of all of the regions that have always appealed to you. From there, you can narrow down the specific country or city that provides the best study abroad experience for your needs and preferences. It’s important to consider factors such as the language spoken, available housing options, and the general culture of the places that you’re considering. Choosing a place that you are passionate about will deliver the best outcome. Think About How Far from Home You’ll Be This is important, and you may not realize how important it is for you until you’ve left. If you’re away for a year, you’ll likely get homesick at one stage or another. Missing your friends and family and the comforts of home can really put a damper on your experience abroad. So when looking at programs or destinations, consider whether you’d like visitors and whether it’s feasible for them to come to visit you or for you to go home for breaks or holidays. Transatlantic flights are costly. Flying back and forth from Australia or Japan will set you back quite a bit more. But, if you can find cheap international flights for your friends and family that want to come and see you, that will be a major help. Consider the Language Component When wondering how to find a study abroad program, a large consideration for you may be having access to a challenging linguistic experience. But for others who find their coursework and new home taxing enough, it’s important to consider the level of communication you’re comfortable with upon arrival, and how much time you can devote to learning, speaking, and thinking in a foreign language. There’s no better way to learn a language than to experience emersion, so of course, if you think you have the capacity to do so, you should. For people pursuing a master’s or a Ph.D., we highly recommend choosing an institution offering classes in the language you’re fluent in, as your coursework will likely keep you busier than you’ve ever been! Related: Where Should I Study Abroad If I’m On a Budget? Here are 6 Cheap Destinations to consider! Figure Out Which Topics You Want to Study Another important factor to consider is what you want to study. Are you going to focus on simply learning the language and culture of this destination or do you want a more targeted area of study? Some countries are known for providing a targeted discipline based on the strengths of their commerce and culture. Do not blindly pick an area of study just because the city you’re visiting offers it. You’ll end up unhappy if you’re not studying something that’s of interest and value to you and your educational goals. Research Programs Based on the Destinations and Topics When you have your list of potential destinations and fields of study, it’s time to get into the specific programs and what each may offer you. Be sure to use multiple search engines and sources in your research. There are a number of reputable ranking systems that can assist you in sorting through all of the information so that you don’t get overwhelmed. It’s also a good idea to make a list of pros and cons so that you can thoroughly weigh your options before arriving at your final decision. Scrutinize Potential Programs Before you make a final decision, you need to be diligent about scrutinizing the details of potential programs. Specifics to look into include knowing what credits will actually transfer to and apply toward your degree, the international ranking of the school providing the courses, and reviews from previous students. Looking at all of these little details will help you to form a complete picture of each option. It’s important to look at official rankings and details as well as word of mouth and recommendations from friends or others who learned there before you. This information will empower you to make the best possible final decision. Explore Financial Aid Packages Unfortunately, these types of programs generally come with a high price tag. The good news is that you don’t have to let this cost be a prohibitive factor in your decision. There are a number of financial aid options available for students looking to explore this route. Options include applying for scholarships or grants, looking into aid provided by the actual study abroad program, federal financial aid programs, or even money set aside by the destination country to help students like you. Be sure to unturn as many stones as possible to see what options are available to you in order to make this dream happen. Budget, Budget, Budget The most important thing to consider before deciding on where to embark on your semester abroad is whether or not it’s feasible for you and your family. Not only will you be paying tuition, but the cost of living will likely vary from what you’re used to at home. Furthermore, exchange rates play a big role in calculating costs. If you’re going anywhere in Europe, you’ll find yourself at a loss currently because the dollar is weak. It’s also important to keep in mind that during your semester abroad, you’re likely to spend a lot more going out, eating out, and traveling than you would normally. Even if you’re very frugal, there are times when you won’t want to miss trying the best local delicacies at the best local restaurants, or experiencing the nightlife with all of your new friends in an entirely new city. Do you feel like you know more about how to find a study abroad program? Tell us below!