Studying abroad has been said to be the best part of a person’s college experience. While study abroad is a great experience to travel to places you’ve never been before, it’s also important to note that it is meant to be an extension of your education. By all means, go to pubs and see all there is to see in your host country! But remember, enhancing your education is the most important aspect. Here are some tips I found helpful while preparing to study abroad.
Really think about where you’re going. My college has one of the best study abroad programs as a small, liberal arts college and I was given the option to go almost anywhere. As a psychology major, the three “best” programs noted by the department were Australia, England, or Copenhagen. Knowing that I intend to be a therapist after graduate school, I chose Copenhagen because of the university’s focus on clinical psychology.
Language Requirements? Personally, studying in France would be one of the most exciting experiences for me. But despite taking 3 semesters of French I can only put together a handful of sentences and would never be able to communicate with a host family. Studying in a country where I would only be required to speak English was incredibly important to me. However, if you’re studying abroad to fulfill a major requirement where language immersion is necessary then studying abroad where you can speak the language is incredibly important!
Choose Your Courses Wisely. I’m currently in the process of choosing my courses at my abroad institution and a lot more goes into it than just picking a class. One of the most important aspects of choosing courses for me was making sure that they were classes I would only be able to take at the abroad institution. My college is incredibly research focused, so instead I looked for classes that would complement my desire to study clinical and counseling psychology. Another consideration is when the classes will be meeting. While this is less important, it would be nice to have either Monday or Friday free so that you can spend more time exploring neighboring countries and the city you’re in.
Save Money and Make A Budget. This one is pretty obvious, but you’re going to want to be able to travel. While airfare may be cheaper from a European country to a European country, it’s still necessary to have some kind of cushion saved up to make sure you can do the things you want. Budgeting your money will help ensure that you don’t run out of money the first month you’re staying in your host country.
Pack Appropriate Clothing. Make sure that you research what kind of weather your host country will have during the semester. It’s important to pack only what’s necessary if you’re taking a plane because of weight restrictions and the cost of extra suitcases. Packing clothing that would be considered socially acceptable for the culture that you’ll be entering is incredibly important. Before packing your suitcases, make sure that you research the culture you’ll be entering so that you can blend in with the host country a little better.
Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things. A lot of American brands that we know and love are not available in different countries. It might take a lot of trial and error to find the brands of food that you enjoy in your host country, but it will definitely be worth it. Trying different shops and cafés in the area of your residence would definitely be a great way to explore your host country and make new friends.