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Study Abroad: The First Steps

With so many options, it can be nearly impossible to pick a study abroad destination—and with all the cool stories we hear from friends who have traipsed around Europe or enjoyed the beautiful beaches of Australia, how could it be easy? If you’re just dreaming of a semester overseas but having a hard time choosing, follow our guide to help you navigate the right abroad adventure.

The Major Issue. When you study abroad, it still counts as a semester of school and so you probably want to find a program that can help you fulfill requirements you need, especially for your major. A good way to start is by narrowing down options where you can get requirements you need out of the way through the Off-Campus Study and Exchange program website.

Travel Options. A lot of people take semesters abroad as opportunities to travel around, but not all destinations are good for that. Places in Europe, for example, are ideal for getting fast, inexpensive transportation between cool cities, but places like New Zealand and Japan make that much harder. If being able to travel freely is important to you, then make sure to look into the local travel rates.

Home Sweet (Temporary) Home. Studying abroad means living somewhere unfamiliar for a few months, and that’s not easy. To make your stay more comfortable, there are a few different options that programs offer, ranging form dorms to flats to homestays. Whatever your housing preference, make sure the program you choose offers the living arrangement that you want to ensure the most comfortable stay possible.

Language Barriers. Going abroad can be a great opportunity to perfect a language you’ve been studying for a while but haven’t quite mastered, and so language enthusiasts should consider a country with their studied language. But if you don’t speak any languages other than English, picking a place where most people speak it, even if that’s not their first language, is highly important. Remember: large metropolitan areas, such as Paris, will often be English proficient enough that you can still get by.

Culture Shock. Spending a few days somewhere is very different from an entire semester, so don’t just pick a place that seems kind of cool. Do some research into the places you’re looking at and consider where you’d actually like to live for that period of time, and be cautious of exotic places that sound intriguing but might be too difficult in the long-term.

There are tons of great options both within Skidmore’s curriculum and outside of it. We cannot overemphasize enough the value of our Off-Campus Study office, so if you’re really lost, take a trip to Starbuck to plan the experience of your college career!

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Remy Marin

Skidmore '15

Remy is an English major and dance minor at Skidmore College. In addition to being CC, Remy is the VP of Outreach of Skidmore's peer mediation group and apprentice for Mediation Matters in Saratoga Springs.
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