Have you considered studying abroad, but are not sure whether it’s worth your time?
If you ask anybody who has studied abroad, he or she will most certainly tell you that it is a life-changing experience and one of the most rewarding things he or she has ever done. Perhaps you’re not certain what benefits you can reap from an extended stay in a foreign country. Well for starters to name a few …you can
- Get a global perspective
- Interact with people from different cultures
- Gain fluency in a new language
- Enhance your global career opportunities.
- Forge lifelong friendships
- Discover more about yourself than you ever imagined
Where should I study abroad?
Deciding where to study is just as important as choosing a study abroad program, and it depends on very personal factors. Different factors are important to different people. If closely integrating the experience with your degree is important to you, then you should consider a location that offers courses in your major and has natural affinities to your major that will afford you experiences in your field of interest outside the classroom too. If there is a language that especially interests you for either personal or professional reasons, that can help narrow down the choice of countries. Or perhaps you just want to get to know your cultural heritage while you study.
Also remember that while large cities offer numerous social and intellectual opportunities, they are also more cosmopolitan. Your extracurricular options may seem more limited in a smaller town, but it’s there that you will gain more of an appreciation of traditional ways of life and make connections with the natives.
How do I choose a program?
Find out which programs offered by various schools/ colleges or universities and what requirements and pre-requisites are in place. Choosing a program either run by a recognized institution is the best guarantee for receiving academic credit for your experience abroad.
In order to choose a program that ideally suits you, you will first need to define the goals you would like to achieve through the experience. Please define your pathway to a career that you would like to pursue. API-Kavoshgarane Elm can help you do this. For example, would you like to be a business man, IT specialist or a Chef? If so, then you should not choose a program in which the courses are taught to address the requirements to becoming what to aim to be.
Finally, depending on your degree of personal independence and comfort with the idea of going abroad, you may prefer a program that has a strong orientation component and an on-site support network for international students, if not just for students from your particular school.
When should I study abroad?
Though students have traditionally studied abroad during their junior year, it is increasingly possible to go abroad at just about any time during your studies. When you go is also dependent upon personal factors. If you don’t yet have a major and it is early in your studies, going abroad is a great way to discover new interests. Considering your own personal situation and the goals you want to achieve can help you determine the best time to go.
How long should I study abroad?
Studies show unequivocally that the longer your stay, the more personal, academic, and professional benefits you will reap from the experience. An academic year or a semester abroad allow the kind of cultural immersion that have the deepest impact in terms of personal growth, academic value, and career preparation. However, if timing or financial issues prevent a longer study abroad period, then a shorter-term program is certainly better than not participating at all.
Make sure you explore all of your options, however, before you rule out a semester or year abroad. Financial aid may be available, and you may find that you can take courses while abroad that will help you make academic progress toward your degree. Don’t let false assumptions mislead you!
What features of a program are important to look for?
While the answer to this question will largely depend on your goals, we can tell you which features typically create the most rewarding experiences with the longest-lasting benefits:
- The program is at least a semester in length.
- There is a well-developed pre-departure orientation and in-country support to help you adjust to living and studying abroad.
- The program gives you the opportunity to interact extensively with natives both in and outside of school. Housing with a host family can be ideal.
- There is ample support for language development (if applicable). If you are in a non-English- speaking country, a good program will provide you with intensive corollary language instruction before and during your stay.
- There is ample opportunity to participate in field trips and other cultural activities outside the classroom.
- Good programs allow you know without a doubt before you leave whether and for which courses you will be able to transfer academic credits to you’re the next instution/ university in the pathway you have chosen.