A First-Timer’s Guide To Choosing a Study Abroad Program

by Czarina Rose Lantajo

Traveling, let alone being educated in an international institution, typically forms an integral part of each student’s aspirations. For some, studying abroad is about gaining knowledge about new things, exploring new learning opportunities that their host country offers in terms of culture and history, and seizing the day in a different part of the world. For others, it is about the prestige of going abroad, attending a university known for quality programs, and learning from an excellent team of professors and lecturers.

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Regardless of your reasons for studying abroad, students always want to have the best study abroad experience possible, whether it’s their first time overseas or their twentieth country. To make the most of your time studying abroad, consider these important factors when choosing a study abroad program: 

1. Where to study abroad?

With so many countries and cities to explore, choosing the perfect location may be the most difficult decision a student has to make in the study abroad process. This is the part where a participant must conduct a self-check in order to know whether they want to go for a study abroad hotspot or a less mainstream area. The planning and decisions related to where to study abroad don't stop there though.

Once you've decided on the location for your study abroad program, you should take into account other factors associated with the location, such as:

If you are having trouble narrowing down your options for study abroad, ask yourself the questions below:

  • Do you prefer a big city or a small town?
  • Are you looking for vibrant nightlife or less interruptions from studies?
  • Do you want to learn a different language or stay with your native tongue?
  • What is your ideal activity for filling free time? Outdoor adventures or shopping sprees? 
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2. What kind of study abroad program is best?

There is an abundance of areas to study, but it should be evident that not every international learning program is perfect for each study abroad participant. Hence, it is important to research, research, and research. In doing so, the internet plays a huge part in this process. 

You can gather information not only on each study abroad organization's website, but also from student blogs, travel articles, or reviews written by past participants. GoAbroad provides reviews and alumni feedback so you can hear exactly what different programs and locations are like, so take advantage of this one-of-a-kind information. Comparing the unique details of each study abroad program is helpful so you can find out whether or not they meet your financial and academic needs. 

Ask yourself the following questions before choosing a study abroad program:

  • What types of accommodation is available?
  • Does the program incorporate internship or volunteer programs?
  • Are the academic courses taught in the local language or in English?
  • What facilities are accessible to students upon partaking in the program?
  • Are excursions and other organized cultural activities offered?
A student drawing on a sketch book

3. Which study abroad organization?

It is important to know the details of an organization and program you choose before deciding. This will likely result in a more comfortable and less worrisome experience. A few of the things to know is whether or not a program caters to individual needs, what’s included, and what kind of support they offer while you are in location. 

Consider the following questions when selecting an organization:

  • Is there an on-site director?
  • How much support does the provider give to students when already immersed in the study abroad program?
  • What other services are included in the program fee?
  • Are inquiries answered in a timely and friendly manner?

After you've asked yourself the questions above and you are ready to choose your program and begin your adventure, check out this comprehensive list of what you need to know as a first-time study abroad student.