Advice for aspiring study-abroaders, Part 2

SA part 2 (3)Picking up where we left off in Advice for study-abroaders, Part 1, Part 2 will review how I selected my country, university and program, and the considerations I had to make for each one.

When you study abroad, the most important thing to keep in mind is that your ULTIMATE GOAL is to graduate from college. But whether you’re determined to graduate in exactly 4 years or you’re OK with taking an extra semester to make up a few credits can play a role in deciding where to study abroad.

If you have a country in mind that seems perfect, aligning with your travel aspirations of swimming in the ocean, climbing mountains or learning French and whatever else floats your boat, head to your university’s study abroad office and see what advice they can offer you on programs and universities. Because even if you’re dead-set on going to a particular country, your decision might change depending on what universities are available and the courses they offer.

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Examples of study abroad program books

My university’s study abroad department has a little online search engine where I can enter the duration of time I want to study abroad, my major and the country I wish to visit, and it will bring up a list of options. Most study abroad advisers will also hand you a bunch of program books, such as API, CEA and AIFS that offer study abroad in your country of interest.

But to be completely honest with you, Books + Online Materials = Confusion & Uncertainty!

All of this can add up to information overload, so take it S.L.O.W.L.Y. Start planning in advance so you’re not trying to take it all in a week before the application due date.

My advice is to start with the books. Find your country of interest and look through the universities they promote. Several study abroad programs offer numerous university options in each country. Some of the program books will list the course programs they offer at each university, ex. Spanish, communications or business.

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This program book has a list of countries, the universities in those countries and the course areas they offer

One of my requirements was to find something that ultimately fit with my major. This goes back to where I mentioned placing parameters on your graduation time frame. If you don’t mind taking an extra semester to graduate, you might not focus so heavily on the academic component of the classes offered, and go more for the experience. Personally, I’m pretty bound and determined to graduate in exactly 4 years if it works out, so it was important that I found a school that offered classes that would apply to my major and minor.

If you find a university of interest, research it online to learn more about their classes. You can even look up online reviews of study abroad programs at different universities. Check out studyabroad101.com, and don’t be afraid to use Google.  Google was actually an immense help in the process for me, and ended up saving me A LOT of money!

Originally, I had decided on a particular study abroad program to the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez in Viña del Mar, Chile. I had already filled out almost all of my application materials when I decided to google reviews of prior students who had studied there. By chance, I happened to learn of a different study abroad program for the exact same university in Chile. The difference? It was more than $1,000 cheaper and offered the exact same benefits! I decided to switch, which meant more paperwork. But in the long-run I saved myself a hefty chunk of cash.

Here’s a breakdown of how I decided on my study abroad country, program and university:

  1. I decided to go to Chile. Why? It’s a beautiful country with a multitude of outdoor adventure options (hiking, scuba diving, skiing), offers a culture where I can improve my Spanish and of course, horse racing
  2. I picked up program books from my study abroad office to see which programs go to Chile
  3. I landed upon the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez business in Latin America program in Viña del Mar, Chile
  4. Not only is Viña del Mar a gorgeous city that lies along the coast of Chile, but the program includes excursions in the program fee and the classes should transfer easily to satisfy my credits needed to graduate.
  5. I applied to a study abroad program for the school, but decided to switch programs after learning of another that was cheaper (Just to clarify, I did not change universities, just the program that will take me to the university)
  6. Ta da!! Last week I was accepted into my program, which brings me to where I’m currently at – filling out lots of paperwork, booking flights and meeting with advisers to make sure credits are compatible and I’m sitting in a good spot academically before I embark on my semester-long adventure!

This entire blog has a lot of information and was maybe a little TMI. If you need any clarification or have questions, feel free to contact me!

My next study abroad blog will go over what kind of paperwork you can expect throughout the study abroad application process and how to conquer it.

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