Why Every College Student Should Study Abroad

“Why Every College Student Should Study Abroad”

by Dana Covit via MyDomaine

Why Every College Student Should Study Abroad

I was an early adopter of the school of adventurous escapism. I read the Harry Potter series ravenously as a child more for the idea of landing somewhere new and exciting than for the magic that lured most of my peers. Later in life, I read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and pledged, in the way teenagers do, to always lean forward into that “next crazy venture beneath the skies.” So, when I was rounding out my second year in college and the possibility of traveling abroad presented itself, I didn’t hesitate one bit. So off to Buenos Aires, Argentina, I went for six months. And oh man—it’s a good thing I did. Here’s why every single college student should study abroad if they can, from someone who is very thankful to have had the experience.

It’s an incredible chance to see the world.

Having grown up in New Jersey and vacationed at a summer camp not even a mile from my house, I was anxious see it—see it all. Thankfully, studying abroad is a unique opportunity to live somewhere new, no strings attached, and explore the region with minimal responsibilities interfering. Academic requirements vary depending on exchange programs, but many build in three-day weekends to allow for plenty of weekend travel. In my experience, traveling as a post-grad adult is often wedged between stressful periods of work and responsibility. Getting time off is a challenge. Scrounging up the funds and coordinating conflicting schedules isn’t easy. Travel has never been as painless as travel while I was abroad.

My advice for when you’re there? Do it all. Go on that daytime excursion. Drop the money on that plane or train ticket. Squeeze as much out of a whirlwind 24 hours as you can. Every opportunity you have to travel while you are abroad is special and worthwhile.

It’ll extract you from your college comfort zone.

And, well, this is a very good thing. It can be scary to leave the comfort of home—of friends, a city you know well, a routine you’re accustomed to. That’s natural! When I first arrived in Buenos Aires, I was overwhelmed by the pollution in my neighborhood, by the bus schedule, by the language that I thought I knew how to speak. But as far as personal development goes, being surrounded by people who are just like us—from similar backgrounds, with similar belief systems—is stunting. The goal of college is very much to remove us from our comfort zone. Think of studying abroad as doing so tenfold. It’s totally unnerving, but worth it in every way. . . . .

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Common Study Abroad Expenses

Your first step in estimating expenses is to determine what is included in the Program’s Package.  The school/organization will give you a price that you have to pay to them, and what is provided through that package varies from program to program.  Usually, it will include tuition, housing, a certain number of “culture trips” (may be extra!), transportation between hotel and school morning and afternoon (for short programs), VISA (may be extra!), and the assistance of a program advisor.

Some things to verify include:

  • Transportation Fees – does this include flights, trips to and from the school and hotel, trips to internships, extra trips offered during the program, etc.
  • Housing Fees – Is there a deposit required by the hotel? What amenities are provided by the hotel? Is breakfast offered? What about a gym or exercise facilities? Is there a mini kitchen in the room or are you required to eat out?  How about laundry facilities? An iron? Wireless? How many people in a room? 
  • Program Fees – Are all culture trips included in this price? Books? Exam software or notebooks? Transcripts?  All classroom expenses?
  • Flights – If flights are included, how many suitcases do you get free?
  • VISA – Is the VISA included or are you getting that on your own (this is important for your time considerations as well- VISA can take weeks to obtain)?
  • Books  – Are they included?

In addition to the fees required by the school, you will have a number of out-of-pocket expenses. Many of these will depend on your own choices (e.g. shared or private rooms), but certainly some of them are requisite no matter what.  A great place to find information on living expenses is Numbeo’s “Cost of Living” site or try googleing “Cost of Living in . . . . “

Below, I have attempted to list the most common expenses study abroadists face during the trip.

These costs naturally vary student-to-student, place-to-place so this is not a hard&fast list of expenses. Some of us will spend less, some more. But at least it gives you something to work from!

**[PP] = Usually included in the overall price of the program listed by the school

  • Tuition (???) – Depends on the school, location, and length of the program [PP]
  • Flights (approximately $600-$2500 one-way) – shop early, plan well. 
    • Airline Baggage Fees (US-Foreign Country = 2 free bags, then $75-$150 for the third one) – if you are flying internationally between other countries, this cost may change!).  Remember to book all you tickets at once or you might be charged for each bag on any domestic flights included in the trip. Also don’t have overweight luggage!
    • Layover Fees ($0 – $300) – Some flights involve layover delays in between each flight. Sometimes people end up spending money on food, drinks, entertainment, souvenirs, short tours of the layover stop, hotels, taxis, etc.  To avoid these extra costs, bring a book or tablet with you on the trip, take a bus if you leave the airport, and sleep in the airport if allowed.
  • Housing (usually around $1000-$1500 / month) [PP] – usually required even for home-stays.
    • Hotel Deposit ($70-$200) – Not always necessary – if required, must be paid upon arrival at the hotel. Usually will be included towards the cost of the hotel room.
    • Alternative would be finding a hostel (average $15-$50/night) or staying with someone you know.
    • Costs for Hotel Amenities (Gym, Trash, Wireless, Recycling, Laundry, Dry-Cleaning, House-Keeping, etc.) are sometimes not included in given hotel fee.  Ask your program director what is and is not included.
  • VISA ($0-$500) – Usually free if you stay less than 90 days. [PP]
    • If you do require a VISA and you have to get your own, it may require traveling to a major city to the nation’s embassy twice (once to drop off paperwork and once to pick up the VISA). This often adds an extra hotel and transportation cost for the trip.
  • US Passport ($135) – ALWAYS required. Check out our Passport page for more information.
  • Textbooks ($60-???) – Depends on your program, classes, etc.
  • Transportation ($100-???) – Costs can run at very small if you mostly walk to pretty high if you take taxis or have to pay extra money for culture trips or tours. Walk, Bike, or take a Bus if you can.  Save a minimum $100 just in case!
  • Food ($100-$1000/month) – Depends on location, length of program, and what you eat.  Can range from minor amounts to extremely costly.  To save money try cooking for yourself (especially in the hotel has a kitchenette), eating on the street, or finding restaurants that serve the local workers. Avoid cafes, nicer dinner establishments, or tourist shops.  Organic or Vegetarian options often cost more.  You can always bring a tub of peanut butter and live on sandwiches or bring some boxes of Mac&Cheese!  Not to say you can’t taste some good traditional cuisine! Yummy 🙂
  • Excursions ($50-$200/week w/ $300-$400 for one weekend away trip) – We all want to visit the cultural sites and stop off at a good club now and again.  Try to set aside $50-$200/week (more or less depending on what you’re doing), and spread out the costlier places over the duration of the trip.  I’ve never seen a student manage a study abroad trip without at least one major trip to a different country or city, so save $300-$400 for that one weekend traveling expedition.
  • Souvenirs ($100-$250) – You may not spend it all, or you might spend more. But I’d try to set aside this amount as your base.
  • Clothing ($100-???) – Entirely up to you!  But at least $100 in case you find a t-shirt or jewelry or a hat or something.
  • Suitcases ($100-$150 each) 
  • Common Surprise Extras
    • Medication (for the whole time)
    • Iron (if you have a suit) or Dry-Cleaning
    • Laundry 
    • Internet (if you don’t have wi-fi, you can sometimes rent a router)
    • Phone Service (a lot of international travelers rent a phone and plan for their trip)
    • Insurance (Health and Renters)
    • Gym / Exercise
    • Kitchen Appliances for the room
    • Living Supplies (shampoo, conditioner, soaps, dish soap, blankets, towels, hair dryers, plates, trash bags, etc.)
    • Clothing (emergency shirts, pants, suits, shoes, hair things, hats, etc. – you packed for hot and it’s cold, you packed for hiking and you suddenly have an internship with a company.
    • Doctor’s Bills – food poisoning, broken bones, etc.
    • Appliances – extension cords, adapters, chargers, padlocks, etc.
    • School Supplies – pencils, notebooks, etc.

So What About You?  Any Costs You’d Add To The List?

Where to Study Abroad: Things to Consider

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Once you have made the important decision to study abroad, it is important to find the very best place for your dream adventure. Regardless of whether this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip or a one-in-a-billion trip, finding the ideal location is a big process.

But the world is large and glorious in all its wonder!

There are approximately 200 countries in the world, and almost all of them offer at least one collegiate institution for you to study in.  So many options, so little time!  It’s mind-boggling how study abroad can open your horizons and offer you the world on a silver platter.

So making that final decision of where to go can be a bit tricky and stressful. To help you out, I’ve talked with several study abroad students and drawn up a list of ten different considerations that can help you narrow down the choices.

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1. Money

It seems a bit petty, but money tends to be the first element worth considering when choosing your program. Studying abroad is hardly inexpensive, but some countries and cities can take less out of your bank than others.  For example, China and Korea have somewhat similar cultures and many similar programs; however, Tianjin is statistically cheaper by far than Seoul.  And Japan can run at New York costs if you stay very long.  So look at the cost of living for your country choices, not just the cost of tuition!

Map of Europe and European Political Map

2. Extended Travel

Some places make it easier than others to travel around a bit. People who travel to Europe are pretty free to hop on a train and set off all around the many nearby countries. The trip from Paris to Berlin in hardly worth mentioning, and maybe next weekend, you could pick up Spain or Switzerland?  South-East Asia is similar in some respects (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China, India, etc.); however, keep in mind VISA costs and requirements.  On the other hand, Hawaii is a lovely state, but travel to other places is hardly easy. Same is true of most islands or isolated countries.  The middle of Russia is beautiful, but you’ve got a ways to travel to get out of it. Moscow on the other hand, might be a possibility.

world-map

3. Multiple Places?

Most students think of spending all their time with one program, but did you know it’s possible to do more than one if you plan it right? One summer, I picked up consecutive programs in Japan and China, spending the week in between relaxing in South Korea.  I carefully shopped around the different programs and found two that were close in time, but not overlapping.  Since I stayed in Asia, I wasn’t paying extra flight costs, it was just a matter of applying and being accepted to both programs. Think about the possibilities!

4. Extra-Curricular Activities

As I’ve said before, Study Abroad isn’t entirely about the program itself. Look into locations where you can pick up an internship or two. Maybe you know someone there who will give you a job or let you trail them at work.  Places where you can see some history and culture; watch some current major events; maybe even contribute some help of your own like a mission or volunteer program.

5. Career

Preemptively, you picked study abroad because it will benefit your career in some way. Mostly for the fun sure, but there should be some small piece of you that’s hoping this will help your future. So think about places that will offer the most resources.  If you are interested in Asia-focused topics (languages, history, economy, government), then don’t look at European schools. On the other hand, if you are all about Brit lit, the EU system, the debt crisis in Greece, Renaissance art, etc. then maybe Europe is the place for you. Once again, think about places where you can get internships, visit relevant businesses, interview beneficial contacts, do some networking.

6. Language

This one is obvious, but worth noting — are you interested in learning a foreign language? If the answer is no, then stop. Go look at programs in countries that speak your language. There are tons of places that speak Chinese, French, English, Spanish, Arabic, etc. Just find one in your language and go with it. If language-learning is not part of your study abroad goals, then don’t bother with the stress.  On the other hand, if you think learning a foreign language will be helpful or you want the adventure, then stop looking at countries that speak your language and find one with a language that looks interesting to you. 

7. Program

Of course, you can’t forget to look at the program itself. In fact, it might be one of the first things to look at if it’s at all important to you. Despite what it seems like, study abroad programs aren’t all alike. There aren’t a million of every kind in every single country.  For example, I studied law, and there aren’t law school programs everywhere in Asia. I had to shop around before I found one in Korea at all. Options were very limited. Same is true of many other programs. Study abroad programs tend to be for the arts, business, or some sciences. Other programs, you may not have much of a choice. So before selecting the land of your dreams and getting your hopes up, make sure a program you need is available there.  

8. Time

How much time do you have to spend on this excursion? One week? Three weeks? Five months?  Trust me, you don’t want to waste your big opportunity spending a whole semester at a school in the middle of no-man’s-land with little means to get out. One week there, meeting the locals and becoming familiar with traditional customs? Might be a lot of fun!  If you have a lot of time, I recommend picking a place that has several nearby places you can visit that interest you.

9. Safety

Of course, keep in mind your own safety.  There are a lot of countries that I have always wanted to visit, but I really don’t think are safe right now. For example, I’ve always wanted to see the Sphinx and Pyramids and parts of Africa, but Egypt and Nigeria have had some problems. As a single, white Christian female, I may want to find a different country for now.  Or think about the places that are having bad disease outbreak.  Maybe there are places for you that are less safe than others; don’t risk your life recklessly just for a fun experience.

10. Dreams

Don’t forget to think about your dreams. If there is that one place that you’ve always wanted to check out, now would be the perfect time. I once visited China with a friend who can specifically to see Pandas in their natural habitat. She loved, breathed, and lived pandas, and this was just a major dream for her. Of course, the program was good for her too, but she really came for the pandas. And that’s okay too!

Life is about being happy, finding the things that light up your world, making a difference, and reaching the dreams that lay deep in your heart. Take this time as the opportunity to do that – find the place you love, that home away from home. And enjoy the heck out of it!

11 ways to revamp your resume with study abroad experience

“11 ways to revamp your resume with study abroad experience”

by Kylee Borger via “USA TODAY

It’s summer internship application season — time to get those resumes in order!

If you have spent time studying abroad, this is your chance to shine and highlight the skills and experiences that make you extra-special and set you apart from your competitors.

No matter where you are in your study abroad experience — just starting to think about it, already diving off the deep end or wrapping your experience up — here are some tasks you should undertake to polish up your resume.

PRE-STUDYING ABROAD — SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

1. Plan to study abroad. (Yes, I know this one’s obvious, but still most important!)

2. List goals for what you would like to accomplish — skills you want to gained, other things you want to learn, etc.

3. Share those goals with your friends to keep yourself accountable.

4. Bribe yourself if you accomplish your goals. Treat yourself to a spa day or a night out. You deserve it after that hard, semester-long work.

WHILE YOU’RE STUDYING ABROAD—THE REAL-LIFE EXPERIENCE

5. Study the language (it’s the most marketable skill you can gain during your global adventure).

6. Get an internship to add some international spice to your work experience.

7. Broaden your horizons and meet new people you would otherwise never meet (who can help you get a job abroad).

POST-STUDYING ABROAD — THE ACTUAL ‘PUTTING IT ON YOUR RESUME’ PART

8. Reflect on how this experience changed you as a person and gave you new skills. Use this opportunity to tweak your objective on your resume if your study abroad experience has altered your goals.

9. Create a separate sub-heading for your study abroad experience under the education section on your resume. It is different from your other educational experience and it deserves the spotlight in its own space.

10. Highlight your new skills. So, you just had an adventure for a semester abroad, out of your comfort zone. What did you learn? You just had a new life experience that lasted a decent amount of time; odds are you have some new skills that your future employers would love to hear about. Maybe you learned a language, or how to adapt, etc. Either way, add your newfound skills to your resume. . . . .

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Study abroad tests life skills

Study abroad tests life skills

by Jordyn Holman via “Daily Trojan

I was never the person who dreamed about going abroad. I never fantasized about developing a British accent or hopping on a plane for a weekend trip to Sweden. No, I was content with being a USC student basking in the 80-degree weather and eating lunch at the Campus Center nearly every day.

Therefore, when I was accepted to the London study abroad program for journalism, I was still a bit hesitant and uncertain if I was even going to take the opportunity to live across the pond for a semester. I had only been outside the country twice and had gotten a bad case of homesickness both times.

But an exhausting weekend trip outside of London showed me that living overseas is providing much-needed perspective in my life.

Like most study abroad students realize early on, higher education curriculum differs greatly from country to country. The British school system isn’t as homework-based as the American one. More emphasis is put on reading and final projects than weekly assessments. This difference has afforded my study abroad peers and I more opportunities to explore museums and markets, to complete our readings in historic buildings and libraries around the city and to take weekend trips to other countries.

So my friends and I spent this past weekend in Paris. It is a country so beautiful and rich with literary and artistic history and a reputation for love that when you’re there it’s difficult to imagine being anywhere else. We ate crepes and toured the Eiffel Tower and saw the Mona Lisa. Though it was not as warm as in Los Angeles, we walked along the Seine River, marveled at the padlock bridges and took in the melodic sounds of the French language. . . .

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Where Americans Go To Study Abroad

“Where Americans Go To Study Abroad”

by Nick Morrison via “Forbes

The number of Americans heading abroad to study has reached an all-time high, evidence of a growing international outlook among the new generation of students.

A report by the Institute of International Education this week shows the number of international students at U.S. universities at record levels, but the other side of the migration picture is that more American students are heading abroad than ever before.

In a companion post earlier today, I wrote about this two-way migration as a sign that universities are increasingly internationalized, reinforcing a point I made earlier this year about education becoming a global currency.

The report shows that in 2012/13 – the latest year for which figures are available – 289,043 American students studied abroad, up 2% on the previous year and more than doubling the figure of 15 years ago.

The most popular destination for American students remains the U.K., no doubt due to a combination of linguistic affinity and the reputation of its universities.

There were double digit increases in the percentage of students heading to South Africa, Denmark, South Korea and Peru.

The top 10 destinations for American students are illustrated in this table, which shows the number and percentage studying in each country in 2012/13 and the change compared with 2011/12.

Rank Country Number of students Percentage of total Percentage change
1 U.K. 36,210 12.5 4.5
2 Italy 29,848 10.3 0.7
3 Spain 26,281 9.1 -0.8
4 France 17,210 5.9 0.2
5 China 14,413 5.0 -3.2
6 Germany 9,544 3.3 1.9
7 Costa Rica 8,497 2.9 7.6
8 Australia 8,320 2.9 -10.8
9 Ireland 8,084 2.8 5.8
10 Japan 5,758 2.0 9.0

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Australian Universities to Help Boost US Study Abroad

Australian Universities to Help Boost US Study Abroad

by Geoff Maslen via “University World News”

Five Australian universities are contributing to an American initiative to encourage more United States students to go abroad by promoting education opportunities on their campuses.

Launched by the US Institute of International Education, or IIE, the Generation Study Abroad initiative aims to double the number of American students going overseas to study by the end of the decade.

According to the IIE’s Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, 295,000 US students went overseas in 2011-12 to undertake credit-bearing and non-credit programmes.

As the report noted, while that number might seem a lot, in fact it represented less than 10% of the 2.6 million students graduating with associate or baccalaureate degrees each year.

The Generation Study Abroad scheme hopes to tackle the shortfall by bringing employers, governments, associations and others together “to build on current best practices and find new ways to extend study abroad opportunities to tens of thousands of students for whom traditional study abroad programmes aren’t working”, the report says.

Australian universities

The five Australian universities involved are Monash, Griffith, the University of New South Wales and the University of Western Australia, plus the first private university to open in Australia, Bond University in Queensland.

The Western Australian university announced last week that it intended to double the number of US students on its campus in Perth by establishing 10 new partnerships with American universities and would try to attract 400 students a year.

“We will improve access by offering scholarships of up to A$80,000 [US$69,400] in 2015 to support new and existing partnerships, launch a new fee model to support students from new non-bilateral partners, and recognise US study abroad students as formal alumni of the university,” said Iain Watt, pro vice-chancellor international.

Watt said the US was the most popular destination of choice among University of Western Australia, or UWA, students who went abroad and that the more American students his university accepted, the more Australian students could go to the US through the bilateral partnerships.

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