A Guide to Choosing a Study Abroad Program

It’s never too early to prepare for study abroad. If you have even the slightest desire to spend a semester (or two) abroad, I would recommend starting early and doing your research! Here’s a quick guide to choosing the right study abroad program for you.

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3 Ways to Start Choosing a Program

(Bryn Mawr students must choose from Bryn Mawr approved programs.)

Based on country/region

I have family in Asia, so visiting countries there is slightly more accessible for me than other regions. Since I have never been to Europe, I knew that I definitely wanted to study abroad in a European country. I looked through the countries that Bryn Mawr had programs with and started narrowing down what programs/countries I was most interested in exploring.

Based on program

There are different types of study abroad programs. You can study abroad directly through a university (like Oxford, LSE, etc.), study abroad at a U.S. institution abroad (Duke University in Costa Rica, American University in Cairo, etc.), or you can participate in programs by third party providers (APA, IES, IFSA, etc.)

When you study directly through a university, you get the full experience of being enrolled in a university abroad and the independence of immersing yourself in the life of higher education in internationally. Your tuition money and fees also go directly to the university.

When you study through third party programs there’s more “hand-holding”; the program often helps with everything you need to prepare for going abroad, which varies based on program, but often includes visa, housing, picking you up from the airport, etc. The money typically goes to the program and they take care of everything for you.

U.S. institutions abroad are pretty similar to third party programs in terms of being more hands-on.

Based on major

If you already know what you want to major in, that is a great way to choose your program. The Approved Program page has a list of the majors for each program (which means credits from classes under those disciplines should transfer back to Bryn Mawr). If you’re really interested in pursuing math, you can participate in Budapest Semester in Mathematics; if you’re majoring in East Asian Language and Culture, you can immerse yourself in Chinese in Beijing. There are also more general programs that have a greater variety of classes, which is more similar to Bryn Mawr’s liberal arts curriculum.

In the end, all three of these methods should factor into your final choice for a study abroad program, but if you have no idea where to start, you can start here.

Talking to past participants is also a great way to get a better idea of the everyday life of living in that country and what classes abroad are like.

Resources available

Study Abroad Coordinators (located on the lower level of Guild), Dean Cann, Bryn Mawr study abroad website.

I hope this article helps you with jump-starting your study abroad journey!