What Kind of Study Abroad Program is Right for You?
Many people rule out the idea of studying abroad because they are unaware of just how many program options are out there. Whether you have restrictions on price point, duration of the trip, location, courses available for a specific major, or even time of year, I guarantee you there is something out there that fits your needs! I know that every university has different programs, but most schools will have programs similar to these, and if yours doesn’t have what you are looking for, schedule a meeting and talk with them to figure out a third party source to plan your trip with.
1. Semester-long program at a host university.
Are you someone that wouldn’t mind taking a break from your actual college experience full of cafeteria food, mid-day naps, and final exams to study in another country for an entire semester? There are many benefits to staying at a host university overseas, but for starters it is probably the program that will be most similar to your typical college experience. First of all, many times this type of program will allow you to stay in on-campus housing, taking away the stress of finding somewhere to live in the middle of an unknown country. Second, almost always you will be taking courses in English. This is a huge benefit for someone who has no experience speaking a different language or someone who is not interested in learning a different language. Last, most of these programs will offer “culture” courses which take field trips to different parts of that country to learn about the culture. This is a HUGE benefit to doing one of these programs. Of course you would have to look into your specific university that you are planning on traveling to, but if you are someone that dreams of seeing different parts of the world, but would be scared to travel alone throughout an unknown area, this would be something to really take into consideration when choosing how to go about studying abroad.
This program probably has the best value when comparing prices. More often than not, your university will give you the option to pay a comparable rate to the tuition that you are paying for a normal semester, and your financial aid will usually transfer. This is an amazing offer because, without financial aid, a typical semester could be anywhere from $15k to $35k. I don’t know about you, but I definitely do not have that kind of money sitting around for half of a year of an education.
2. 3-6 Week Summer Program.
Going abroad in the summer is definitely something to consider for someone that has a major that is too demanding to let them break from their university for an entire semester (a STEM or Education major maybe), or for someone that doesn’t want to leave their friends at school for half of a year. Summer programs usually last between 3-6 weeks which is way shorter than a full semester, so if you are someone that would get homesick leaving for that long, this could be perfect for you.
A typical course load for a summer program is usually a lot less demanding as well. You would probably end up taking 2-3 classes, which is great compared to a typical 15 credit semester. These courses would probably be in either culture or language, and a lot of the learning is done outside of a classroom!
Cost is something to definitely take into consideration. Summer programs could cost you anywhere from $5k to $12k, and unless you get a scholarship, you usually won’t get much in financial aid. However, if this is absolutely the only time you can fit studying abroad into your schedule, taking out a loan to invest in something that would honestly be life-changing is not a bad idea.
3. Short University-Led Trip Abroad.
Most colleges offer short, usually 10-14 day trips abroad that many students, and usually a few faculty, go on at the same time. For someone who wants to visit another country, but is afraid to go alone, this is perfect for you! This is probably the most common study abroad trip because it does not require a large commitment. At my university, you would take a class during the spring semester that teaches you about a certain country’s culture, and then at the end of the semester your entire class, including your professor, would go to the country that you learned about.
Even though it is cheaper than the summer program, this type of trip will still end up costing you around $4k. It is an amazing experience, but for many people it can be seen as pretty pricy for the short length of it. On the plus side, you will be traveling to another country with probably many of your close friends, which is something that is honestly priceless.
4. Intern/Research Abroad.
Taking a “break” from college for a semester can end up distracting you from your ultimate career goals, so if you are someone who wants to make sure they stay on track, consider finding a program that will set you up with an internship or research project in another country! This is an amazing way to build a resume because any type of international experience is valued very highly in the job market. Also, if you are someone who might be interested in starting a career in another country post-graduation, having this experience would give you a major head start.
Usually, a student would do this in conjunction with one or two classes throughout the semester, and the internship or research project could potentially count as credit back at your host university. Even though it may be more time consuming than your typical course load while studying abroad, the experience you will gain will be so beneficial when you get back.
No matter what your needs are or what university you are going to, chances are there is a program out there that will fit exactly what you’re looking for. Global experience is so valued in today’s job market that mostly all universities are pushing for their students to go abroad. I hope this helped you to see just how many options you have, and your next step would be to talk to your own university to find out what specific programs they offer!