4 Things to Consider When Deciding to Study Abroad

If you’re thinking about studying abroad in the future, the options can seem overwhelming. Where do you start? Where you should you go? For how long? Making the decision to study abroad is a big personal decision, and ultimately you’re the only one who can make it. You’ve likely already thought about some big things likes language, academics, city and university size. Here are some things you may have forgotten to think about, based on my experiences spending a summer in Guatemala. And head’s up for Agnes students: the deadline to apply for study abroad in the 2019-2020 school year is this February. It’ll be here sooner than you know it, so now’s a great time to start thinking about these considerations!

 

  1. What’s the weather like?

Antigua, Guatemala on a rare sunny day during rainy season

 

The weather and average temperature of the country you’re studying matters a lot. Especially if you’ve grown up in Hotlanta, spending a semester in an extremely cold place could be a shock. Aside from generally hot or cold, you should also find out what day-to-day weather will look like. When I went to Guatemala, I knew I’d be there during rainy season, but I wasn’t prepared for it to be 80℉ during the day and drop to 50℉ at night. I’d recommend checking weather apps for the locations you’re thinking of and finding out what the seasons are like.

 

2. What kinds of people will you meet?

Friends from Guatemala, Costa Rica, Spain, Germany, and Norway

 

Something I didn’t think about until researching specific universities abroad was how many other international students I would meet. This is a personal preference, but definitely something to consider. Does the university have mostly students from that country or a larger international presence? Will there be a lot of other Americans? I would especially look into this if the school you’re looking at is an American school abroad. Being surrounded by other Americans may make you feel more at home, or it may make you feel like you’re missing out on the full study abroad experience. Personally, I want to meet students from all around the world, not just the country I’m studying in.

 

3. What’s the food like?

Pain chocolat and hot chocolate for breakfast in Trois-Ilets, Martinique

 

Food is so important to think about! Eating something you hate for an entire semester or year can make your experience worse, whereas food you fall in love with can make your experience so much better. Luckily, I’ve loved all the food during my times abroad, and I do everything I can to get my hands on something similar at home. During my Journey to Martinique, I developed an utter devotion to pain chocolat (aka chocolate croissants) and guava juice, and I’m still trying to find a store nearby that sells Tajin from Guatemala.

 

4. Will you be able to travel?

Roasting marshmallows on top of Pacaya Volcano

 

You’re already traveling to a new country and possibly a new continent, but will you want to travel more when you get there? This is important to think about if seeing new places is something you’re interested in. For example, studying abroad in France would make it easy to travel around Europe on weekends or breaks, but leaving New Zealand would be much harder. Also worth looking into are the types of cool weekend excursions you can take. Will you get to explore ancient ruins in Greece? Visit the European Union’s headquarters in Brussels? I got the chance to hike an active volcano, and I wouldn’t have traded that day for the world.

 

Basically, if you’re thinking of studying abroad, you’ve got your work cut out for you to decide. But just think of all the amazing experiences you’ll have if you’re prepared!