How to Pick the Right Program Abroad for You

by Megan Lee

In the 1990s and prior, there were fat, thick catalogs for international programs. In the 2000s, there were online directories and digital program catalogs, such as GoAbroad.com.

And now, there’s the MyGoAbroad tool, your best mate when it comes to picking the perfect international program for you.

While advisors are helpful and word-of-mouth recommendations are important (not to mention it’s really fun to snag free swag at campus fairs!), until now, there hasn’t been a place to store allllllll of the programs you are considering while sifting through your options.

Enter MyGoAbroad! Woot!

With thousands (literally thousands! *gulp*) of international program options out there, it can be overwhelming to find a program that fits all that you’re looking for. Whether you want to find a study abroad program, find volunteer opportunities abroad, find internships abroad, or are wondering how to find teaching jobs abroad, you're in luck.

Here’s how to pick the right program abroad for you, without wanting to rip your hair out and without stress of not understanding your choices.

1. Make a Profile

Use Facebook, your Google account, or your email address to get your MyGoAbroad profile started. You can opt to beautify it now (fill out those questions and upload a purdy photo) or later (you’re very busy and important, after all). Skip this step if you are eager to get started on your international program hunt.

Snapshot of MyGoAbroad dashboard
Here’s a sneak peak of our state-of-the-art program finder tool.

2. Request Program Matches

Let us do your homework for you! It doesn’t hurt, and you’ll receive a fully-customized shortlist of programs to jumpstart your research and give you an idea of what options are out there. From your dashboard, click on “Request Program Matches,” fill out our online inquiry form, and our team of matchmakers, also known as online advisors, will help you find the international programs you’ll want to swipe right for.

3. Use GoAbroad.com & Start Your Program Search!

Get the full scoop on how to use GoAbroad’s many functions with this handy-dandy infographic.

Choose an activity. Do you want to put that freshly minted TEFL certification to use? Are you hoping to get some university credits with a side of adventure? Looking to give back to the world or ready to do some good? Decide which type of meaningful travel activity you’re keen to participate in and then start narrowing down your international program options. On GoAbroad, you can filter by:

  • Study Abroad – two week to year long programs with an emphasis on classes and cultural immersion for college students.
  • Volunteer Abroad – one week to year long programs that connect altruistic travelers to projects/causes in need of more manpower or special skills.
  • Intern Abroad – one month to year long programs that emphasize international workplace experience, professional skill development, and cultural immersion.
  • Teach Abroad – three month to multi-year programs that help connect teachers to teacher jobs abroad, both for teaching English and other disciplines.
  • Degree Abroad – two to four year full degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-doc levels that allow international students to attend universities abroad full-time.
  • Language Schools Abroad – one week to full year programs that focus on language mastery through intensive language courses and lessons.
  • High School Abroad – short term summer programs to full-year high school exchange programs aimed at teen travelers and gap year students.
  • TEFL Abroad – short term international courses for earning a TEFL certification to learn how to teach English abroad.
  • Jobs Abroad – one month to full year opportunities to find job placements abroad and get international work experience.
  • Adventure Travel Abroad – both hard and soft adventure travel opportunities that emphasize cultural immersion without sacrificing adrenaline-pumping fun.

Pro Tip: You don’t have to bookmark programs from only one type of activity; perhaps you’re considering Mandarin language programs in China as well as volunteer programs. Don’t limit yourself!

Snapshot of search filters on MyGoAbroad
Use our comprehensive filters to search your little heart out!

Choose a place! Much like picking your favorite ice cream (*cough* Talenti *cough*), it can be a formidable challenge to take that list of 200+ amazing countries and zero-in on a destination to call “home” for the duration of your meaningful travels. On GoAbroad, the indecisive will appreciate filtering by “Region” instead of a specific country.

Feel free to peruse options in multiple countries or corners or continents; the world is your search-engine oyster!

Laser focus with sub-filters. Now’s not the time to compromise. Be picky when deciding what international programs options will make the best fit for your time abroad. Do you want to take specific types of courses or volunteer in a particular effort? Is an internship out of your desired field a deal-breaker? Do you only have two weeks to spare? Our sub-filters will navigate the noise to pinpoint legitimate program options for YOU to find internships abroad.

4. Click SAVE!

Once you’ve read reviews and interviews and have a clearer idea of the type of experience you want, it’s time to bookmark and save program options. Once you go back to your MyGoAbroad account, all of these top picks will magically appear in your dashboard for quick and easy future reference.

Pro Tip: You can also save articles and inspiration from GoAbroad.com to your dashboard! Bookmark how-to lists or helpful resources to come back to later. We especially love our Scholarships Article database!

Snapshot of saving a program with MyGoAbroad
Saving and bookmarking programs that catch your eye is as easy as 1-2-3-click!

5. Now to COMPARE

Saving a bunch of international programs doesn’t really do you too much good if you’re not going to compare them limb for limb. From your Dashboard, click the “Programs” tab in the left hand column, then the “COMPARE PROGRAMS” button in the upper right hand corner. You can compare up to three programs side by side, a nice feature when you’re wondering how to find teaching jobs abroad, for instance!

Be sure to note inclusions, locations, projected costs, and overall feedback from past participants. Like Harry Potter and Voldemort, keep pitting program options against each other until you find three to five programs that feel like a perfect fit (Hint: this will be your go-to list for next few steps).

Snapshot of comparing programs option in MyGoAbroad
You can compare two or three programs at a time, side-by-side, with the MyGoAbroad tool.

6. Email Your Interest to Program Providers

Try to include a variety of program providers when selecting international program options. Ask for different price quotes, what makes their experience “different” or the “best,” and what common complaints are from previous participants (that’s a juicy, but worthwhile question). Start to note the vibe of your correspondence with different contacts. Do some respond immediately to your inquiries instead of taking 24-48 hours? Are you garnering a more personal connection with one over the other? Follow your intuitions as you shift from the “window shopping” phase to more brass-tacks.

7. Double-Check that All of Your Travel Stars Align

Be thorough in your research, committing to crossing off the T’s and dotting the I’s as you go. Do you need university credit and can you fo’sho get it? Do you need a significant upfront deposit and do you have the resources to cover it? Other important checkmarks should include travel insurance, ability to secure a visa/passport, if health insurance will be an issue, the costs of flights, etc.

We’d hate for you to get your hopes up, so we beg of you to be diligent throughout this process!

8. Sign Up for an International Program & Dive Right In!

You’ve done the legwork, you’ve outlined your goals, you’ve finally narrowed it down to the single program that is the best fit for your needs and hopes. Congrats! Now get the heck outta here and have a great time traveling abroad!

9. Have a Kick A** Resume

You’re basically hired and you didn’t even apply yet. That’s because you come back from abroad with a competitive skills set that puts you far beyond the pack; it’s just up to you to communicate the value of your international experience to potential employers. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back.

10. Pay it Forward by Leaving a Review of Your Program

Remember how helpful those reviews were as you were gathering information about which program was going to be the most beneficial to you and the experience you were looking for? Those reviews didn’t come from nowhere; they came straight from the horse’s mouth (aka program alumni and past participants - no offense!). The great news is you have a horse’s mouth now. Be sure to pay it forward and provide feedback to the organization who ran your trip.

Leave a Review here!

If you want to take it a step further, help future travelers (and get hashtag FAMOUS) by completing an interview. They look great and are incredibly helpful for would-be travelers. Here are some of our favorites:

11. Login to MyGoAbroad NOW to Start Planning Your Next Trip!

It happens when we least expect it: that travel bug grabs hold of hearts and doesn’t let go. It’s no surprise that you’re already gunning for another trip with passport in tow. Your trusty friends at GoAbroad are ready to help you start the process over for your next grand adventure. Try out short-term volunteer programs or an intensive language course (you’ve been wanting to master French, no?).

Now’s not just the time to travel. Now’s the time to travel meaningfully.

There’s never been a better time to travel abroad. From your computer chair, the world of international programs is at your fingertips; it’s up to you find the one program that suits you so you can move forward and accomplish your travel goals.

Adopt the mindset of a meaningful traveler and pick the right program abroad for you with the MyGoAbroad tool today!