After going abroad to France and Italy for nearly two weeks during my junior year of high school, I knew that studying abroad in college was something I wanted to do. However, I never had a clear idea of where I wanted to go, when I wanted to go, or how I would be able to do it. Let me start by telling you: YOU CAN DO IT AND IT WILL BE WORTH IT. Not to be one of those annoying people that literally preaches at you to go abroad, but that is what this post is all about, so I kind of have to do that. Studying abroad was honestly one of the best decisions I have ever made in life, and hope that if you are considering it that this post will help and encourage you to do so.
Photo credit: aylagraney.com
First, we will start with WHEN! To begin your study abroad journey you need to figure out when you want to go, and then look into when applications are due. Not only can you go for a full semester, but you can also go during the Summer and Winter breaks, and there are even some programs that go over Spring break!
I studied abroad during my spring semester of junior year. The reason I chose this time was:
1. I wanted to be at school in the Fall semester because I wanted to do school work and get back into the swing of things at my home university first, rather than jumping into a completely new place and do school work and be completely thrown off. (This is not me trying to tell you not to go abroad during the Fall semester, but personally this is just how I thought I would handle things better)
2. I also chose the Spring semester because I knew I’d be leaving New York during the Winter and returning during the Spring/Summer. I personally don’t really like Winter and figured I’d be sad enough coming home from being abroad, I didn’t want to have to come home, be sad, andddd deal with the cold and snow, so Spring it was!
3. I wasn’t ready to go freshman or sophomore year, and I knew I didn’t want to go during my senior year.
Next, WHERE! If you’re one of those people that has everything figured out, or have always wanted to go somewhere, then that is awesome! But if you’re like me and just know you want to go somewhere, then take some notes here.
I contacted the Study Abroad Office and talked to them. First they told me to speak with my advisor and make sure I will be able to go abroad, so make sure you do this!!! Then, they told me to go to their website and look through all of the programs for the Spring semester. Because we go to a SUNY school, we are able to study abroad through any SUNY program, not just Oneonta’s, which is AMAZING. By following this website (https://www.suny.edu/studyabroad/) you are able to search through all of the programs offered by all of the SUNY schools. The website is really easy to use, and can be modified by categories. Once you hit search, you will then be able to see; a list of places, the names of the universities, a little bit of information about the universities, academic fields they offer, language of instruction, eligibility (meaning GPA and class year), program type (faculty led, study abroad, and student exchange), and term information which includes the application date.
Finally, HOW? Basically after looking at all of that information and finding some programs that are more specific towards your desires, you can start making choices and applying! The main factors that I took into consideration when deciding were: location, cost, and academic fields. I knew I wanted to study in Europe because it is easy to travel around, it is bursting with history everywhere, and a lot of European citizens speak English. Cost was a big thing for me because I’m not made of money and I knew I wanted to travel a lot, so I chose Prague because it is a relatively cheap city compared to other places in Europe. I chose Charles University in Prague because I knew I would be able to take history courses there, and I major in history so this was very important to me.
Photo credit: lonelyplanet.com
To choose where you end up going:
- Research all of the places and programs you have narrowed your search down to. Look at where you’ll be staying if you go there, the type of area you’ll be living in (city, countryside, etc.), the types of public transportation available, what language they speak, and anything else you may want to know.
- Make a pro/con list of all of these places, and then decide which ones you actually want to apply to. I only applied to 2 universities, but you can apply for more if you’d like.
While it may seem scary, it will be amazing and will change you for the better in so many ways. I traveled to 11 countries during my 4 months abroad, and while I did get homesick at times, I still loved every second of it. My only regret was that I didn’t save up more money to travel even more, so save your pennies and work your butt off! And if you’re worried about the actual costs of studying abroad, don’t be! You are able to use your financial aid, and there are scholarships available through SUNY Oneonta that you can apply for, and many more that you can find online! There truly is so much to do and see in the world, and it is extremely worth it to go outside of your comfort zone, so take the risk and start looking at programs today!