How to Prepare For Study Abroad
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Alexandra Johnson in a CollegeVine Livestream. You can watch the full Livestream for more info.
- Explore Courses and Programs
- Make Sure You’re Meeting Requirements
- Understand the Application and Visa Process
- What To Do If You’re Undecided
Wondering how to prepare for a study abroad trip? In this article, we’ll discuss how to begin exploring programs and courses, thinking about your degree requirements, applying for programs, what the visa process entails, and more.
You’ll start noticing that upperclassmen have taken advantage of certain programs. They can tell you about their experiences. Professors, too, can give you insight into opportunities.
Consider what kinds of classes you’ve enjoyed or topics you’re interested in pursuing further. And, of course, do extensive research. You’ll never know what programs and courses exist if you don’t look. Your college’s website may be a good place to start, or possibly reach out to the study abroad office at your school to get a full list of the programs available to you.
If you’re in a college program with rigid requirements, such as a pre-med track or engineering major, there are numerous classes you’ll need to take to satisfy your requirements. And some, like organic chemistry, don’t have replacements.
In that case, if you want to study abroad for a semester, you should be sure to look into meeting your requirements earlier rather than later. Otherwise, you might get off track and not be able to complete your requirements in time.
Start planning early, because they might tell you, for example, that you need to take an extra class a certain semester — that’s totally doable, but you need to know in advance.
But even if you’re participating in programs with strict requirements, it’s possible to study abroad in a traditional semester format.
There are study abroad programs that cater specifically to people who want to study more of those hard sciences. You can explore those programs, or, if you do plan ahead, you can go a totally different route.
In many cases, you’ll need to sort out visas and other documents, and there will be deadlines set. The program will probably help you with the process, but it’s worth noting that it starts earlier than you would think. You’ll also need to apply well in advance.
However, the study abroad application process itself is usually fairly straightforward. Some programs are more selective than others, but either way, you do have to start early.
If you’re studying abroad in the summer, for example, the application process will probably take place in the second semester.
The study abroad office will help you out with the process and time frame. Go to the office and let them know where and when you’re interested in going abroad. They will assist you with choosing programs, meeting deadlines, and completing necessary requirements and paperwork.
Again, get in touch with the office early, just so they can make sure you’re on the right track.
If you’re unsure about where you want to go, the study abroad office can help you narrow your search, too. You might share some of your interests or languages you have experience with or want to explore further.
When you ask for study abroad advice, most colleges will say, “Sure. Any idea of what you want to do or the timeframe of when you want to go?” Make sure you are either prepared to answer this question or have an open mind and are able to communicate this.
They will make you aware of the types of opportunities that exist and ensure that you’re on track to apply and meet deadlines.
While study abroad does take ample preparation, you will have plenty of help along the way, particularly from your college. Make sure you take advantage of the resources available to you to make certain you get the most out of your experience.