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What I Wish I Knew about Studying Abroad Before I Applied

Wow, what a few weeks it has been! Yesterday, I got my acceptance letter to John Cabot University, my first-choice study abroad program. I am psyched that I have the privilege to study in beautiful Roma this spring!

However, the Marquette study abroad application process is less than beautiful. Here are my tips and tricks to surviving the confusing and anxious application process. 

1. Look at more than the city

Of course, you want to be excited about the city you will be studying in, but there is a lot more to consider than whether you want a metropolis versus a small town. Look at the classes the school offers, the size of the university, the location of the school within the city or town, whether they teach classes in English or the native language, and whether it is an international or American school. All of these factors impacted my decision, but of course, everyone has different criteria. I knew I wanted a school in the heart of a city, classes to be in English and courses which satisfied my graduation checklist. I also know I am more of a city girl and love traveling so I wanted a location that was central. 


2. You are STUDYING abroad, make sure to consider classes

The classes you save for studying abroad make a huge difference in where you can study. I saved more of my general education classes which made it easy to look at programs. However, I took my two theology and first philosophy classes at Marquette which I wished I saved. Those three classes were abundant at the programs I was interested in and my second philosophy was harder to find than I assumed. Additionally, as a communications major Milan is a super popular program. I would have loved to study in Milan, but I did not save enough communications electives. Additionally, if you have a major which makes it difficult to go abroad, like health sciences or engineering, make sure to look at programs early because it is doable if you plan ahead.


3. Do not write your Motivation Essays until you have decided where you want to study

I made the mistake of being too eager to study abroad, but not knowing where exactly I wanted to go. Every time I researched a school which interested me I would write part of my essay to get “the worst part over with”. Good idea, right?! Nope. I ended up writing more essays than I needed. Do not waste your time writing the essay for schools you won’t even apply to. It’s like a research paper—it’s easier to do your research BEFORE you start writing, not during. 


4. Really consider which semester (or year) is best for you 

Everyone goes abroad with different expectations, intentions, and experiences. I am glad I am not going abroad until junior year. I think I am more mature than Sophomore year and I feel like I am leaving established relationships back at Marquette that will be there when I return. However, some people prefer to go earlier to push themselves, be on track for graduation, or to get out of the godforsaken dorms. Whatever your reason for leaving, make sure it is right for you. 


Well, that’s enough from me. I am sure you will be getting more updates about study abroad. 

Arrivederci for now! 

Gianna Morrissey

Marquette '20

Catch me traveling, hiking, visiting museums and trying new restaurants every weekend! Catch me at the library studying Public Relations and Sociology every weekday!
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