Thinking About Studying Abroad? Do It!

 

If your university offers foreign exchange, now is the time of year it starts becoming a hot point of interest! You’ll see study abroad fairs on campus with representatives from all over the world. It can seem so daunting - there are so many countries and so many options. Go up and talk to as many country representatives as you can and see what you’d find interesting.

 

The best thing to do is keep an open mind and do your research. If ANY part of you thinks it could be cool, you should seriously think about it: it’s a way to extend your time at college and make friends all over the world. 

 

The first thing to do is think about how adventurous you’re willing to be. Here are a few simple questions to help you find the right place: do you want to go somewhere English speaking? Do you want to go to a country you know nothing about? Do you want to go somewhere very different, or kinda similar?

 

If you know how adventurous you’re willing to be, you can start narrowing down your options and choosing from a smaller pool.

 

Personally, I was very apprehensive about studying abroad at first because it seemed super stressful. I was nervous about transitioning into a new community, so I made English speaking countries my priority because this would alleviate a bit of the stress. This meant I was primarily looking at universities in the US, Canada and Australia. 

 

Once you’ve decided which countries you’re considering, you’ll need to find out which universities your college has exchange programs with. My university is the University of Birmingham, and we exchange students with UC every year. 

 

The next step is doing your research! Spend some time looking at university websites and envisioning yourself in that environment. Look at campuses both similar to yours and different: maybe you’d enjoy something very different. My home university is much less extra than UC, and I’ve really enjoyed experiencing these differences, for example - going to football games in the HUGE stadium. (It legit feels like a movie set!)

 

Exchange is a great time in your life to travel, so check out what cities/countries are close to your possible exchange university and see what trips you’d like to do. For example, I’m planning on weekend trips to Nashville, Chicago and New York, as well as spending Christmas in Canada! 

 

I had Canadian and Australian friends on exchange at my home university last year, and they made the most of their new home by doing frequent weekend trips to European cities. 

 

Exchange is also a great way to improve your social skills because you’re forced to make completely new friendships and completely throw yourself into a new community. I think so far it’s definitely helped with my confidence.

 

I would 100% recommend looking into exchange: at what other time in your life will you have the opportunity to live in a different country for a year? 

 

And if you’re really serious about it…. Start saving now so you can make the most of your experience!