Your years in college are one of the best times to explore both academics and the world at large as you learn to relate to different types of people. One of the best ways to do this is to study abroad, and at some schools, over half of undergraduates spend at least one semester abroad. If this doesn’t seem feasible to you, take a look at how you can overcome some barriers holding you back from diving into a study abroad program.
Especially if you’re enrolled in a rigorous degree program, you may feel like you can’t take a semester off to go abroad. The truth is, though, the courses you take abroad can often help you fulfill degree requirements, either in your major or by getting general education courses out of the way. If you’re interested in studying abroad, discuss your options with your academic advisor as early as possible. Together, you can look at what courses you still need for graduation and how you can fit a study abroad program into your academic plan. Many students find the first semester of their junior year is the best time to go abroad.
If you can barely afford a semester at your university, you may feel like there’s no chance you could afford to travel for a whole semester. However, in many cases, the cost of studying abroad for a semester is comparable to being on campus. This is because all your financial aid and scholarships can be applied to studying abroad, plus you can sometimes get additional scholarships to help. The cost of tuition at an international university or study abroad program may also be less than at your usual campus. Plus, exchange rates can work in your favor to lower the cost of housing, food and other living expenses within the host country.
Planning and Logistics
Trying to plan a semester abroad while you’re neck-deep in a semester of rigorous study at your university may leave you overwhelmed by all the logistical details you need to set in place. However, keep in mind that your school’s study abroad office can help with many of the things you need to take care of before leaving. In many cases, they can arrange lodging on your behalf and help you purchase plane tickets to and from your study abroad location. They’ll research what entry documents, like a visa, you need to obtain before you travel. They can also recommend immunizations and help you set up a study abroad travel insurance plan to give you peace of mind that your health will be taken care of while you’re abroad.
Your college or university has your best interests at heart, and they’ll often work with you to find a study abroad program that meets your needs. Start looking into options as early as possible to make the process easier and increase your chance of finding the perfect program to spend a semester abroad. Once you graduate and begin your career, you may not have the opportunity to live abroad for several months again—or at least not until retirement.