Student Travel: Choosing Where to Study Abroad, IMG cred: Amy Wiener

Study Your Potential Study Abroad Locations!

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.  Here are a few quick student travel tips on what to think about before deciding where to go.


Cost


The most important thing to consider before deciding on where to embark on your semester abroad is whether or not it is 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 is also important to keep in mind that during your semester abroad, you are likely to spend a lot more going out, eating out, and traveling then you would normally.  Even if you are 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.


Programs Offered


After you’ve decided which programs you can afford, the next thing you want to look at is which programs are offered, how the credits will transfer to your home university, and if the location of the program has significance to your course of study.  Though we may forget at times, the purpose of study abroad is to supplement your college experience and also add value to your degree.  For example, if you’re studying architecture, it would be wise to choose a location that your future employer would see as a compliment to your knowledge of the field. 


Language


You may be seeking a challenging linguistic experience.  But for others who find their coursework and new home taxing enough, it is important to consider the level of communication you are comfortable with upon arrival, and how much time you can devote to learning, speaking, and thinking in a foreign language.  There is no better way to learn a language then to experience emersion, so of course, if you think you have the capacity to do so, you should.  For people pursuing Masters or PhDs,  I would highly recommend choosing an institution offering classes in the language you are fluent in, as your coursework will likely keep you busier than you’ve ever been!


Proximity


This is important, and you won’t know it until you’re gone.  If you’re away for a year, you will 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.  When choosing your program, consider whether you’d like visitors and whether it is feasible for them to come visit you or for you to go home for breaks or holidays.  I am the nearest to the United States as any European country and still, 3,000 miles is just too far for many people to come see me, and too expensive for me to jet back and forth.  Transatlantic flights are costly, but flights to Australia and Japan will set you back quite a bit more.


Wherever you decide to go, enjoy yourself! You will be home again before you know it, missing your time away, the friends you made, and of course, all that good stuff you learned in school!
 

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photo: Amy Wiener

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