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!

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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

 READ MORE

A 360-Degree View on Studying Abroad

Wow! This article offers some really great advice! **DB

“A 360-Degree View on Studying Abroad”

by Besart Bajrami via “Huffington Post”

Moving beyond borders for a novel experience can be the solution to your post-teenage existentialist crisis; discovering yourselves in different environments is both challenging and bold. What better way to do that than, pick a spot on the map and starting looking for an exchange program at the Universities offering such an alternative. So long, crazy boring routines and nosy parents that only want the best for you; one hell of an adventure will be waiting for you on the other side where supposedly grass is always greener.

Why study abroad? 

A lot of people might wonder, why go through all those tiring procedures so you can end up in a strange environment full of unknown people you know nothing about? Is the degree more valuable or in fact the experience is one of a kind?Precisely. Continue reading

“The 10 Best Places in Europe to Visit Now”

For my friends who are studying in Europe this summer or interested in fall classes, you might check out schools in these locations! If they don’t have a university in the area, you could at least visit them on weekends or breaks 🙂  Don’t forget to use your study abroad experience as the perfect time to see as many awesome things as you can!

“The 10 Best Places in Europe to Visit Now”

by Bekah Wright via “Yahoo Travel

#SummerTravel: The 10 Best Places in Europe to Visit Now, via Lonely Planet

Greece took the top prize alongside such under-the-radar spots as Plzen, Ljubljana, and Stavanger in Lonely Planet’s Best in Europe top 10 rankings, announced today.

“We’re drilling down a little deeper and coming up with specific choices, particularly for the American market, that people might like to experiment with beyond the usual highlights of a European trip,” Noirin Hegarty, Lonely Planet’s Managing Destination Editor, told Yahoo Travel.

The ranking criteria include accommodations, cuisine, culture, historical experiences, sports, and activities. What really comes into play, though, says Hegarty, is “That je ne sais quoi element or experience that lifts it above the rest and makes it special.” Continue reading