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How to Choose where to Study Abroad

Updated on November 12, 2015

Choosing a Study Abroad Location

A liberal arts college education is almost standard in today’s world. The study abroad office will hold seminars on what to expect and the do’s and don’ts are posted everywhere throughout the internet. But what is really the mindset of studying abroad? This is life chronicled day by day, as it was occurring to delve into the mind of a study abroad student. I didn’t know the language, though luckily Spanish was very similar to my high school days of French (But let’s be honest, French isn’t that commonly used). I consider myself a Southern girl at heart. I grew up outside the capital of South Carolina. I went to a small college of about 1200 well-to-do students. I never really fit in because I was the scholarship student, so my hopes for study abroad were lackluster at best.

Before the chronicles begin, let’s go through how to choose a country when studying abroad:

  1. Affordability- Many schools want you to do a budget before you go, but these budgets don’t work. In my “budget” I was perfectly capable of spending six blissful months in Paris. Yeah, right, not on a student budget, especially if you want to travel all of the great places your friends will be traveling.
  2. Pick a Country that is not necessarily “on the map.” – This has become more and more prominent , as students have their minds opened to the world. But there are things to assist with picking the country.
    1. Do you want to know the language of the country?
    2. Do you want to be with friends you already know?
    3. What is your major, and how can that country benefit your major?
    4. Can you get an internship while studying abroad? (I have found this to be a huge resume booster, and it shows you did not just leave the country to party)
    5. Grades- Let’s be honest, grades are the last thing on our mind when we study abroad. Make sure to take into account if your school takes the grades as the letter grades or pass/fail. If your school takes the letter grades, beware! Certain country’s letter grades don’t mean as much as the education. This means the teachers are not always apt to give you that “A” your GPA desperately needs.

Now that we have the boring stuff out of the way, let’s be honest about what you may feel, and you will experience in the Chronicles.

  1. Research- Research everything about the country before you go, but don’t drive yourself crazy with crime rate statistics. Any large city will have crime, just be vigilant.
  2. Prepare- You do not have to buy everything under the sun before leaving. I promise you there are grocery stores, and even Walmart in MANY countries. But do take into account what the weather will be like, especially if you are Northern Hemisphere and you are going to the Southern Hempishere. You will pack, repack, and pack again before feeling like you are ready. Have all your medications you need for your duration. Always carry these on board with you, have them in their original container, and pay close attention to country rules and regulations, because certain countries do not allow certain medications such as amphetamines, benzos, and many other altercation drugs used legally in the United States.
  3. Anxiety- Become close and personal with this feeling, because you will be on a rollercoaster ride that never stops, even when you get home. I cried when I left my family at the gates in the airport, cheered, when I landed, and cried to my school wanting to come back home in a matter of seven days. STICK IT OUT! I promise you the fruits of your spoils will be the best thing you will be able to look back at. That epic fraternity party, or significant other who made you whole will not compete with the worldly experience you will have. In a span of six months, I grew up and the Chronicles will help you see this.
  4. Exuberance- There will be so many new people, places, and things to explore that you will encounter a certain sense of euphoria. Once your friends are established, you find your way around the city, and find what to do, your time can be quite enjoyable.
  5. Word to the wise- If you are staying with a home stay family, things can be stressful. If you are uncomfortable in your home stay, don’t hesitate for one moment to ask your program for a transfer to a new home. Most programs have people on waiting lists. Your home stay is supposed to be an extension of your family, as much as you are to treat them with respect, they are to treat you with respect. Don’t feel pressured to stay.

Buenos Aires

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What to Expect in Picking a Country

Before the chronicles begin, let’s go through how to choose a country when studying abroad:

  1. AffordabilityPick a Country that is not necessarily “on the map.”
    1. Do you want to know the language of the country?
    2. Do you want to be with friends you already know?
    3. What is your major, and how can that country benefit your major?
    4. Can you get an internship while studying abroad? (I have found this to be a huge resume booster, and it shows you did not just leave the country to party)
    5. Grades

Now that we have the boring stuff out of the way, let’s be honest about what you may feel, and you will experience in the Chronicles.

  1. Research
  2. Prepare
  3. Anxiety
  4. Exuberance
  5. Word to the wise

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