Planning a semester abroad is both extremely exciting and extremely stressful. These are some pro tips you can use to avoid major bumps in the road.
Do Your Homework
Knowing exactly what you’re looking for and where you want to be before stepping into your first advising appointment will make things go a lot smoother and faster from the start. You can walk into the appointment confidently with questions and even start looking at applying by the end of the meeting. If you aren’t sure where you want to go or what you want to study, give yourself time to explore the programs your school offers before making the next move.
Know Your Options
Not all schools offer semester programs abroad. If your college does not offer study abroad semester programs, you will have to go through a program offered by another university. Be sure to know if this circumstance applies to you because if it does, you will have to take the extra step of searching for a program in which your credits will transfer back fully to your home university. Consult an advisor when looking for these programs, and look through the information on their websites. You should be able to access a course description list.
Consult Professors Outside of the Study Abroad Office
The study abroad advisor that you are assigned to deals with a number of students’ trips every semester that span across many fields of study and countries. They may not know the best places to study what you are hoping to learn as well as a professor who specializes in that area. For instance, if you want to study Italian and wish to be immersed in the language completely, ask an Italian professor what region of Italy they think is the best place to do so.
Be Punctual and Proactive with Paperwork and Deadlines
There’s nothing worse than missing out on an experience of a lifetime because you missed the due date for an application. Be aware of your deadlines and do not wait until the last minute to get the necessary documents filled out an submitted. This also means taking into account that you will most likely need to obtain a study abroad visa to live in another country for a semester. Also, make sure that you have a valid passport.
Save Your Money
Studying abroad for 3-4 months is an extremely expensive privilege that most of us will need to save for ourselves. Take up extra shifts at work, maybe even apply for another job. Know that you will be paying for airfare, food, travel while in the foreign country, and many other small finances that will add up. Having a certain amount of money in your bank account is also a requirement to obtain most study abroad visas.
Don’t let these points slip your mind while planning for your semester abroad. This will be one of the most memorable trips of your life and you should try your best to make sure the experience is as pain-free as possible!