So You Think You Want to Study Abroad

I can tell you from personal experience: studying abroad is absolutely amazing, and everyone should at least consider it. But with that being said, there are definitely some things you need to think about beforehand. The process of going abroad is intense and very in-depth, but the end result is, of course, so worth it. All of the applications and requirements can get confusing, though, especially if you're going to go through an affiliate program, because it adds a whole extra round of applications. Not to worry though, because once you understand what's happening, it's not nearly as daunting. Here are some of the steps you need to take, broken down:

Decide to study abroad. When I was looking at colleges back in high school, I knew for a fact that I wanted to study abroad, so that was one of my criteria when picking a school. It's helpful to be in the mindset of studying abroad in advance, so you can start planning out your credits and where you're going to fit it into your college timeline.

Decide where you’re going. The hard part for some people was the easy part for me. I knew, pretty much from day one, that I wanted to go to London. I love Europe, but I also wanted to avoid a country where I would be stressed about becoming proficient in the language in a short amount of time. I considered Spain, since I took Spanish all throughout high school and a little bit into college, but ultimately, after looking through the programs offered in each location, decided that London was the perfect fit for me.

Apply for your program. There are a handful of types of study abroad programs, each with a unique application process, but you’ll have to submit some form of application regardless. Since I did an affiliate program (so I took classes through another university entirely, as opposed to taking classes with a group of people from my university in a different country), I had to apply through my university, and then submit another application through the affiliate program (basically, the middle man between the two schools), and a third (and very short) application to what would be my host school. These applications tend to have multiple parts and deadlines, and you’ll need to continue to submit information such as flight details, health clearance forms, and insurance forms well after you are accepted to the program.

Decide what you’re studying. This one is also on a case-by-case basis. If you’re going for an entire year, you’ll take a full course load at whatever foreign university you attend. In theory, the classes you take will apply towards your major, and the credits will transfer over. For me, since I did a bit of an expedited program, I only took one course. Once I picked my program, I was given a list of classes to pick from, which leads me to my next point…

Get your classes approved for transfer credit. Again, because I used an affiliate program, and therefore was not studying with any students or teachers from my home university, I had to get the class that I took approved for transfer credit. This just means that since it is a course that isn’t traditionally offered at my school, my academic advisor needed to make sure it is still in line with the requirements of my major, so it will basically act as a supplement for one of the classes I would otherwise be required to take here.

Stay up to date on your applications. Like I said, even after you’ve submitted the applications and been accepted, there is a ton of other information you’ll need to input. Even after finishing all of my applications were done there were loose ends to tie up, such as registering my trip with the Department of State and making sure I have all of the requirements for my student Visa. Daunting, I know.

Luckily for you, this whole process happens pretty fast, so the stress of it doesn't last long. Your advisors are there to help you along every step of the process, so don't be intimidated by it! Like I said, it's worth every step.

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