Here at StudyAbroad.com, we like to think that every week is International Education Week, but there is in fact an official week dedicated to the benefits of receiving education abroad. International Education Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to promote a global classroom for today’s students. Whether you’re leaving the U.S. to study abroad or coming to the U.S. for your education program, International Education Week is a time to celebrate the many benefits associated with studying in a country other than your own.
The Five Steps to Studying Abroad
|1||Choosing your study abroad program|
Finding a study abroad program is easy; it’s choosing the program that’s the hard part. With hundreds of programs available to you in almost any country in the world, it can be a bit overwhelming to decide which program is right for you. Do you want to be in a city? Do you want to be centrally located to travel to other countries in your free time? Do you want to study where they speak a different language? Answering these questions will help you determine where you might want to study.
|2||Financing your study abroad program|
After you’ve found your program, financing your study abroad trip is the next step in completing your abroad adventure. From scholarships to loans and financial aid, there are a variety of opportunities available to you to help fund the trip. In fact, many schools allow students to apply their current financial aid package toward their study abroad program. This means that many students are able to study abroad at the same tuition cost as spending the semester on campus.
|3||Preparing for your study abroad program|
From developing a budget for your finances while abroad to applying for a passport and beginning to pack, preparing for study abroad involves a lot of details. As you budget, remember to keep the conversion rate in mind. It’s important to remember to keep copies of your travel documentation with you at all times, and keep the originals in a safe place inside your apartment or dorm. Don’t forget to save space in your suitcase as you pack for the souvenirs you will bring home with you.
|4||Making the most of your study abroad program|
Traveling safely, fitting in like a local and dealing with homesickness while abroad are all important steps to ensure you make the most of your study abroad trip. When it comes to safety, it’s important to always be aware of your surroundings and be alert. Take the time to research your new city so you understand the cultural customs and don’t draw attention to yourself as a tourist, but rather appear to fit in as a local. Lastly, dealing with homesickness is inevitable. While you’re in a fun, new location, you’re also many miles from your family, friends and familiarities. Fight off pangs of homesickness with frequent phone calls and video chats with your loved ones at home.
|5||Finding a job because of your study abroad program|
|Employers are often impressed to learn when a job candidate has studied abroad because it shows you have a global perspective, and in today’s world, that’s a great attribute to bring to your post-graduation job interviews. You likely have skills from your time abroad that will help qualify you for a job such as a new language learned, international business experience and the overall leadership qualities it takes to leave a comfortable college campus to pursue a new experience in an unfamiliar place.|
Gain a New Perspective on Life
“At first, I was extremely nervous about going abroad. I’ve always been a bit of a control-freak and I knew that while studying abroad in The Netherlands and traveling throughout Europe there would be so much out of my control. But, it was such an important opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone. It put many things from my life in the States in perspective for me—relationships, careers, friendships. When I was abroad, I learned to go-with-the-flow more, which has truly made my post-abroad life easier. If you worry too much, you’ll miss out on the amazing sights and experiences. I’ve taken that mentality back home with me and it truly is the best souvenir.”
—Michelle King, studied abroad in the Netherlands
“Studying abroad adds another level to your college experience. It takes you out of your element and places you in a place where you are less comfortable, enabling you to learn in a new way. Experiencing other cultures around the world broadens your knowledge base and teaches you to think and live differently. It is so important, today, to have a solid understanding of different cultures, and I think sending students abroad is an easy way to set up our generation to be a more globally-minded society.”
—Emily O’Hara, studied abroad in London, England
Embark on Exciting Adventures
“The adventures you experience abroad, in a new environment, are reason enough to expand your studies overseas. I went bungee jumping, paragliding, I rode an ostrich, went shark cage diving, went on safari in Kruger National Park, surfing at Muizenberg, and I went on a week long road trip across the south coast from Durban back to Cape Town. Being a minority for the first time ever, I now can honestly say that my perspective of the world has changed. I take less for granted and take full advantage of the opportunities and resources at my disposal. I made countless friends from all over the world including Mozambique, Uganda, Namibia, Zimbabwe, as well as South Africa. Studying abroad was an experience that I've always looked forward to and can now always look back on with no regrets and only fond memories! I will definitely be back.”
—Jennifer Barrett, studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa