4 Simple Study Abroad Tips

College is all about new experiences that change our perspective on the world. A lot of this growth can come from the classes we take or the people we meet in school, but there is an exciting once in a lifetime opportunity that many universities let us take – study abroad. It all started at University of Delaware in 1923, when a professor returned from France after WWI and recognized how important it was to have a cross-cultural understanding of the world and to improve international ties. The first trip was to France, and like all students who take the chance and cross the sea, they had their own great adventures. The excitement that comes when dreaming about going abroad is accompanied by the many concerns, but that is why University of Florida has an International Center to help with the process.

At the University of Florida, there is over 1,100 programs for the opportunity of interning, researching and studying in different countries. No matter what major, year or country you’re interested in, you can participate in one of the programs. Applying to a study abroad program can be a long process, so here are some helpful tips to ease the process.

Choosing the right program

Choosing the right program may be the most difficult part of the application. With so many beautiful places to see and different programs that satisfy various needs, it can seem like you’re searching for a needle in a haystack. To start off, assess what you want from the program. Do you want to do a summer semester in the summer with a couple of credits to complete your summer requirement? Would you like to do a semester in the fall to intern and learn how to adjust to different workspaces? Maybe you want to do research and go abroad, but you feel as though you only have time for one. If so, doing research abroad could be the best fit for you. When choosing your program, it’s suggested to consider location, academics, structure, living arrangements, cost, eligibility and duration. In this step of the process, make sure to research what the current events are and the cost of living in the countries you’re interested in. You want to be able to reassure your parents and yourself that you’ll be safe and comfortable away from home. 

Start the search early

Study abroad costs can easily be lower or even avoided if you start the process early. When researching your program, note the costs of each semester abroad to find the cheaper one. There’s a chance that a year or semester programs may be more wallet friendly than staying on campus. If you’re a student that receives Bright Futures, Pre-Paid or any other financial aid, then you can apply those to your time abroad as well. The University of Florida also offers over $100,000 in scholarships with private, departmental, national, diversity and identity, UFIC and Gilman scholarships. Individual applications for various scholarships can be overwhelming, so be sure to start early and to ask for help from University of Florida study abroad advisors and the Writing Studio if you need it.

Prepare for the future

As you’re applying for the next step of your college career, start on tasks that will help future you. If you live off campus, then review your lease to see if you’re eligible to sublease. Once you’ve established that you’re allowed to, post a listing on various social media and leasing sites. During the time before your trip, you’ll need to obtain a passport that will be valid at least six months after your round-trip travel dates. A specific type of visa might also be required for your new home, so make sure to procure that a couple of months before your flight. You might have to take a trip to the clinic as well to receive any necessary vaccinations. The goal of this step is to make sure that there will be nothing out of place when you step on the plane to go somewhere new.

Learn about others’ experiences 

One of the most helpful things that you can do in the process of preparing to go abroad is to talk to your peers about their experiences. Ask them about the resources they use, the adjustments they had to do and the nerves they had to get over. People like talking about their travels, so don’t be afraid to ask an acquaintance. If you don’t feel comfortable asking a classmate, there is the University of Florida study abroad blog where students write about their time in the program and there are many videos about the subject on YouTube. This is a step that will really help with any lingering doubts or fears, so indulge yourself with the countless videos you’ll want to watch.

Study abroad can seem intimidating in the beginning but can be accomplished by managing your time wisely and using the resources available. Anyone is capable of living abroad. The worries that you have will disappear when you are in your new home. Living abroad is an experience that produces personal growth through challenges, so accept those problems and let them help you become a more confident version of yourself. This is a chance to become a better citizen of the world and have fun. Let yourself take a chance and step onto new ground.