Top 4 Student Questions Around Study Abroad

By Ian Acosta on January 29, 2017
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Studying abroad is an amazingly exciting opportunity for college students. It allows them to gain real-world experience by traveling the world, studying new cultures, and exploring new places.

It lets students immerse themselves in a completely different setting for a semester or more which not only nurtures a sense of independence but also promotes diversification. Preparing for an excursion such as this requires a good deal of planning and thus raises a few questions regarding the whole experience.

Here’s a few questions students commonly ask themselves when preparing to go abroad.

1. Question: What are the costs?

Answer: Costs vary from program to program. By and large, though, many programs are either equal to, or in many cases, less than the cost for the same length of time on campus.

The reason behind this is that many study abroad programs form relationships with universities around the world to offer favorable tuition rates. This encourages students to travel and explore the different programs out there while doing it at equal or lesser costs. For many students, there are scholarships available for study abroad programs to help minimize the cost to a degree. Inquire with other students who have gone abroad and also with the study abroad office.

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2. Question: What will be gained by going?

Answer: A better question would be what would not be gained? Studying abroad creates numerous opportunities for a student and opens up many doors in the future. Going abroad allows for a student to put an amazing, exciting experience on their resume and something to always strike up a conversation about during an interview.

Studying abroad allows for a student to gain first-hand experience on what it is like to study in a university in a different part of the world. It is a chance for the student to learn about the unique culture and customs and societal norms associated with living in another part of the world. Also, it will give them more real-world experience in general and just more knowledge about the world. When trying to convince your parents to let you go, this is a great selling point.

3. Question: Is it safe?

Answer: Well, it depends on the area. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when considering a place to travel to.

Research the country. Once you find out where you will be staying, spend some time and learn about the city or neighborhood. Scope out local coffee shops, stores, restaurants and also landmarks such as police stations, hospitals, churches, and libraries. If you are staying with a host family, be sure to learn and hear about their experiences about living there.

Never go anywhere alone. If you feel unsafe or in danger and would rather not go anywhere without a friend or classmate, organize a common group time to go to class, get food, go out, etc. For example, a friend of mine and I had the same class on Tuesdays. We lived with different host families but would meet at a coffee shop around the corner from both of us and walk to class. We also used this place as a landmark for where to meet up at night if need be. The best way to combat any potential dangers is to always have a friend with you.

Keep a keen eye. As my father likes to constantly remind me, “Keep your eyes open.” Always be aware of your surroundings. I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard stories from my friends who were pickpocketed of their phone or wallet without them even feeling anything. The point is to always have some street sense and be wary. You do not want to lose something valuable just because of a lack of awareness.

4. Question: Will this coincide with my program of study?

Answer: In most cases, yes. Study abroad programs are designed around giving the student credit for either general education requirements they need or, in some cases, credit toward a minor they are pursuing or their major.

It would ideally be most desirable to seek out a program that goes along with your major or minor for two important reasons. The first is giving you a unique experience in your field of study. Not many people out there can say they studied economics, finance, engineering, biology, chemistry, etc. while in another country. It gives invaluable experience and unique perspectives into your coursework, and, ultimately, your future career.

Secondly, networking. Making global connections can open exclusive doors for you that would not otherwise be available to your classmates who did not go abroad. Seek out a letter of recommendation if possible. Volunteer while abroad as well. While studying abroad is obviously a fun and exciting time, it should also be used to build your resume and future career prospects. Have fun and work hard for your future at the same time!

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