Studying Abroad: Getting Started

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If you have a single adventurous bone in your body, you are most likely considering studying abroad. It’s a phrase that has been in the back of your mind since high school when you saw all those posts about your older friends taking trips to France, England, Australia, and so many more places you’ve been dreaming about. You’ve daydreamed about the places you’d go and the people you would meet along the way. It would finally be your turn to post those pictures online for your friends to see. Well, my friend, now is the time to make those dreams a reality.

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Around this time of year, mid-fall semester, is when summer trips start to be planned and organized, so now is the perfect time to scope out your options. Before doing so, you want to know what you’re looking for. Do you want an internship abroad? Do you want school credit? Are you looking for just a few weeks, a whole semester, or a whole summer? The only person that can answer these questions is you. If you just want a taste of a country, just go for a few weeks. If you want to really escape into the culture, go for the whole summer. While people say new things are supposed to be scary, you need to find that balance between stepping out of your comfort zone and diving out of it; decide on what is right for you.

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Once you have a general idea of what you want out of your trip, visit your advisor or the study abroad office at your school. They can inform you on all the trips happening and can help you find the ones that best fit your vision. Get all the information you can about each and every one of them. Look into the location, costs, place you’ll be staying, transportation, dates, and length of the trip, as well as what opportunities are provided with each of them. From here you’ll be able to narrow down your options. While you might be tempted to look over any one of these factors, don’t. Deciding to spend your entire savings on the costs of the trip is unwise, due to that being your entire savings and you won’t have money for food or other things you’d want to do/buy while there. Another tip is to look into the culture of the area you are looking into. This will help you to decide what might be right for you and will also be helpful when attempting to be polite when visiting. It is not necessary, but would help a lot, if you spoke at least a little of the native language. Don’t panic if you find yourself wanting to go to a country whose language you don’t know. A lot of people speak English as well and you have plenty of time to learn a few basic words and phrases!

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One of the biggest worries about studying abroad is the cost. While finding a “cheap” option isn’t likely, some trips are more reasonable than others. Assess your own personal funds and, if able, ask your parents if they can help in any way. There are scholarships available for things like study abroad and your school might have ways to help you as well. Once you have enough money to pay for the trip, you have to also measure in spending allowance while there. Having a weekly budget will help you get through with what you have. Also, try looking up different saving tips for travelers. I’m sure there are many different ways to be cost-efficient while traveling.

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Studying abroad is one of the most talked about college experiences. It’s an amazing opportunity to meet new people and really experience another culture. And it looks great on your resume!

Happy travels!

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