Study Abroad: Where to Start and How to Pick the Perfect Program for You

Thinking of studying abroad but don’t know where to start? With so many potential places to go, programs to choose from, and uncertainties swimming in the back of your mind, the whole process can seem daunting. Luckily, UMass has tons of resources to help you out!

1. Go to an information session.

There are so many info sessions about studying abroad around campus, as well as a mandatory one for all students studying abroad. As a freshman, a representative from the International Programs Office (IPO) at UMass came to my dorm to talk to us about study abroad. I also attended an info session specifically for psychology majors, where other psych majors shared their experiences from study abroad. These info sessions are a really great starting point because you get tons of information and can ask any general questions you may have. Keep an eye out for emails from your major and signs around your residence hall offering info sessions. Also, look online to find dates and times for IPO’s mandatory sessions. 

2. Check out the IPO website.

There are a lot of different programs to choose from. Trust me, I know. The IPO website can help with that. Just fill out any parameters you want and voila! You can specify the country or city you’re thinking about, your major, or even what kind of housing you want. Then IPO gives you a list of programs that fit your criteria. You can click on a program to find out more information and go to the program’s website to learn even more. This is such a helpful tool for helping you narrow down programs and finding the best one for your needs. 

3. Meet with a peer advisor.

After you’ve attended the mandatory info session, you can meet with a peer advisor to learn more about study abroad. Peer advisors can share their experiences, give you advice, and help you navigate your options. Find them in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library Learning Commons Monday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Or visit the IPO office at 70 Butterfield Terrace for drop-in hours.

4. Meet with an IPO advisor.

Once you’ve done all that, you can schedule an appointment with an Education Abroad Program Advisor to get more specific information, and find out the exact steps you need to take to make studying abroad possible. Advisors can help you narrow down the programs you’re considering and answer any questions you have. They’ll give you tips and help guide you throughout the whole application process. Even after picking my program, I contacted my IPO advisor multiple times with questions and concerns.

5. Plan ahead.

Applications can be a time commitment, so it’s important to start planning for study abroad early. Even if it’s just going to an info session or casually browsing programs, it helps to get a head start. Depending on your major, it may be a little harder to find a program that fits your needs. But if you start planning sooner rather than later, you’ll have a much easier time working around obstacles. Don’t let this discourage you, though. If you think you can’t study abroad because you waited too long to start the process, start now! Look at programs and make an appointment with an advisor. You might have to work a little harder to get everything done on time, but it’s probably not too late!

I just got accepted into my study abroad program, and I'm beyond excited to be attending Lorenzo de' Medici Institute in Rome next semester. If I did it, so can you!

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