6 Things to Consider Before Studying Abroad

The decision to study abroad is a big one. Moving to another country and leaving behind everything that is familiar to you is tough, but it will certainly be an experience you’ll never forget. It takes careful planning and a lot of research to ensure your study abroad program is everything you want and more. So before you embark on this exciting journey, take a minute to consider these six important factors of studying abroad.

  1. Can you afford it?:

    There’s no doubt about it — studying abroad is expensive. Although tuition rates at many international schools are lower than U.S. schools, you still have to keep in mind the added costs you might incur while studying abroad. On top of tuition, you also have to account for travel, room and board, meals, and additional convenience fees. Not to mention, the foreign exchange rates could leave you spending more than you bargained for. As always, see if you are eligible for financial aid or scholarships before leaving the country.

  2. Are you ready to leave?:

    This might seem like an obvious question you ask yourself days leading up to your trip, but this goes beyond physical readiness and includes mental and emotional preparation as well. It’s important to consider the people you are leaving behind and the events you may not be able to come back for. Depending on how long you study abroad, you may have to miss out on holidays, birthdays, weddings, family get-togethers, and other important events. Understanding and accepting that you will be absent from some things is crucial to your mental readiness.

  3. How long do you want to study abroad?:

    It’s important to think long and hard about how long you want to study abroad. Some students may opt for a two-week program, while others may prefer a year-long program. If you’re on the fence about how long you would want to be abroad, think about your goals. If you want to learn the language and truly immerse yourself in another culture, then you may want to do a semester or year session, whereas those who just want to travel and get a small taste without missing out back home may be better suited for a shorter program.

  4. Are you going to learn a new language?:

    Before you step foot in another country, it’s in your best interest to learn at least some of the native language. Even though you may not have trouble finding English-speaking people in your new home, you will feel much safer and comfortable if you know some basic words and phrases prior to your move. To improve you language skills, consider living with a host family where you will be immersed into the language and culture of natives.

  5. Do you know the local laws?:

    Going abroad can have its risks, especially if you aren’t familiar with the local laws. Before you move to another country, be sure to read up on the basic laws of your new home, specifically regarding travel limitations, minimum drinking age, etc. Traveling abroad is already a surprise in itself; don’t make it even more shocking by not knowing and following the local laws.

  6. What subjects do you want to study?:

    When you’re not sightseeing and exploring the world, you’re going to be in class. It’s important to think about what you’re going to study while abroad. Some students want to lighten their academic load with general electives, while others prefer to knock out some major or minor requirements abroad. Whatever you do, make sure that your study abroad credits count toward your degree.

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