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Nate Nault, StudyAbroad.com’s study abroad student expert and editor of The Study Abroad Blog, partnered with StudyAbroad.com to create the Study Abroad Student Guide.
There’s a variety of
factors that can impact where you want to study abroad. One of the most obvious
will be whether or not your home institution has a set list of approved schools
to which they send students.
My college has
about 20 foreign schools from which students can choose; however, if you wanted
to study in a country in which the native language wasn’t English, you had to
be proficient in that language. With those guidelines, my options were narrowed
down to the UK, Ireland and Australia. I chose Scotland since it had one of the
better schools in the UK, as well as some of the best golf in the world.
Here’s a list of other things you may want
Language: Are you going to be studying
a language in a particular country? If not, will you be comfortable in a
country where English isn’t the native language? It’s not impossible, and if
you’re determined to go to a non-English speaking country, and are confident in
your ability to communicate and find your way, by all means go for it.
Time Table: Summer, Semester, or Year?
Type of Program: Does your school have
the type of program you are looking for? Is there a possibility you might have
to go through an independent program? Are you comfortable participating in a
program where you won’t know any other students? Which programs can you afford?
How will you finance the cost of the study abroad program?
Major requirements: Will you be able to
complete any major requirements while abroad? Will your degree progress suffer
if you can’t? Will your credits transfer either way?
Weather: This one’s pretty easy. What
type of climate do you want to live in? If your idea of being abroad is on a
beach under palm trees, then Moscow probably isn’t for you.
Living Situation: Do you want to live
with a host family or in a dorm? There are positives and negatives to both.
abroad and living in a dorm
In a dorm, you are more likely to
interact with people your own age,
who are going through the same adjustments you’re going through,
and who can relate with you on a
greater level. In most dorms, there’s no curfew,
and living in a dorm requires you to be much more
abroad and living with a host family
If you’re studying a language,
living with a host family will
vastly increase the amount of interactive
situations in which you’ll speak that language.
There’s also a greater possibility that you’ll
experience more local culture first-hand.
Local Life: Do you want to study abroad
in a big city or small town? What is the campus like? Are there any famous
landmarks, sights or tourist attractions close by that you'd like to visit?
How's the night life? What is there to do when you’re not in class?
Travel: How close will you be to an
airport? Are there low cost airlines flying out of those airports? Do you want
to visit nearby countries/cities in your free time? If so, are you close to
countries/cities you want to visit? How long will it take you to travel to
Food: Do you like the food common to
that country? Can you get by on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? While this
shouldn’t be the deciding factor, I would go somewhere where you can appreciate
local cuisine as it’s definitely a big part of the overall immersion experience.
Talk to people
from your school or just people that you know that have been there before and
ask their opinion. They’ll probably be very happy to share their experience.
The most important thing is to go with your gut
feeling. If there’s a place that you’ve wanted to go since you were nine years
old, then go. Do the research needed to be sure you know what you’re getting
into so you can be as prepared and confident as possible when making your
Get started by choosing a country!
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