Study Abroad Summer 2016 is Calling Your Name!

by Danielle DeSimone

The hottest accessory this year? A few dozen stamps on your passport. Trust us when we say: Study Abroad Summer 2016 is the ONLY way to spend your precious time off school. Since we’ve got no time to waste, you should jump start planning your summer adventure abroad today. Here’s everything you need to know to make a study abroad adventure happen in just a few short months!

Cinque Terre, Italy

Why Study Abroad in Summer 2016?

Are you still undecided as to whether or not you should study abroad this summer? Silly goose! There are so many wonderful things to uncover, like...

1. You can explore the world. Studying abroad provides you, as a student, the incredible opportunity to educate yourself not only through the pages of books, but in the streets of Granada, in the marketplaces of Marrakech, in conversations with locals in Lima. There is no better way to get to know the world than by stepping beyond your front door.

2. You will develop foreign language skills. Speaking a foreign language is one of the greatest skills you can have in both the world of academics and employment. By surrounding yourself in another language, inside and outside the classroom, your language skills will vastly improve.

3. Tight academic schedule? No problem! Summer study abroad programs are a great option for students worried about graduating on time. Certain degrees in STEM or education can make it difficult to factor in a semester abroad with all those pesky required courses. Studying abroad in the summer is the perfect solution for those with tight schedules throughout the academic school year.

4. You’ll become a people person. While studying abroad you will meet many people who come from diverse backgrounds and upbringings. Learning to interact with people from other cultures not only expands your people skills, but also gives you a broader understanding of different perspectives.

5. You’re hired! According to an IES Abroad survey, 90% of students who study abroad find a job within 6 months of graduation. Studying abroad sets you apart from other potential job applicants or graduate programs. Not only does studying abroad teach you excellent problem-solving skills, time management, budgeting, and conflict resolution, potential employers or universities also like to see that you are willing to be flexible and learn from other opinions besides your own.

6. Make international friends. Building relationships with people halfway across the globe makes the world seem just a little bit smaller - and connects us all just a little bit more. International friendships are invaluable, and you will undoubtedly carry them with you for the rest of your life. From these friendships, you can learn new ways of thinking and living.

7. You’ll learn about yourself. When you study abroad, you not only learn about the country you are living in, but also the home you left behind. Living in another culture shifts your world view and forces you to analyze how you live back home. You will also learn a great deal about yourself, and how you respond to the challenges of living abroad. 

Alhambra Castle, Granada

Alright, you convinced me! Now where can I go?

As they say in real estate: location, location, location. It’s important! Where you choose to study abroad obviously shapes your entire experience, and it’s crucial that you weigh your options before jumping on a plane. 

Europe

This classic study abroad location is home to a number of countries brimming with old world charm and the magnitude of history. If you are a lover of the arts, languages, and humanities, this is the place for you.

Cultural excursions on programs in European countries such as Italy, Spain, or England offer you the chance to bring your history textbooks to life. However, the large number of cultural hotspots – combined with the warm summer months – means that most summer study abroad students have to battle the summer tourists as well.

As Europe is one of the top destinations for international students to study, choosing this as your summer location gives you the opportunity to forge lasting friendships abroad with people your own age. 

South America

Slightly off the beaten path, South America offers amazing opportunities for students with an adventurous streak willing to step outside of their comfort zone.

For those interested in biology, service-learning projects, or anthropology, the lush ecosystems and incredibly distinct cultures of South American countries certainly deliver. In addition, exchange rates make this location a very affordable option. Peru, Argentina, and Chile are popular summer study abroad options.

Asia

For those looking for a total cultural immersion – along with a healthy dose of modern innovation – Eastern Asia is the place for you.

Countries such as China, Japan, and South Korea are excellent locations for those interested in studying business, politics, or economics, as some of the world’s largest economic hubs and most interesting government systems are located in the heart of Eastern Asia.

This region offers an exciting environment in which students can experience the traditions of the past alongside the fast-paced and booming modern cities. Students coming from a western lifestyle might experience some culture shock, but living in a country that is so different from your home can be incredibly rewarding.

Mountain view in Lhasa, China

Everything You Need to Know About Program Structure

Study abroad programs can vary in structure - be sure to educate yourself on the organization of potential programs, so that you can choose one that best fits you and your goals. 

Course-based. In these kinds of traditional study abroad programs, you’ll have the chance to study both within the classroom and outside of it – even the most academic of study abroad programs organize class outings that bring your coursework to life in the paintings in museums, the festivals you participate in, or the historic landmarks you explore.

Project Programs. In these programs, you’ll be able to take the skills and knowledge that you’ve learned, and apply it to a real-life situation, such as with community development, education initiatives, or conservation efforts. For example, once you’ve learned about Costa Rica’s sea turtle population, you’ll then be able to go out onto the beaches and tag the turtles – studying them in their natural habitat.

Language-Intensive. Immersive language programs are available globally, in almost every language that students may want to study. The goal is, obviously, for you to leave the country speaking the native language much better than when you arrived. Many of these programs take the study of language beyond the classroom, and encourage students to experience homestays, in which you live with a host family from the country you are studying in. This way, you practice speaking the language in all aspects of life!

Multi-Countries. Some study abroad programs take students to not just one country, but many. This is an excellent option for students who are looking to pursue global careers, as it allows you to experience a number of countries and cultures, as well as observe the cultural differences between those countries and your home country.

View of Meteora, Greece

One Last Hoorah of Helpful Hints

In all the excitement of choosing when, where, and how you’re going to study abroad in Summer 2016, it’s easy to forget a few crucial details. Don’t miss these last few to-do’s!

Be sure to start planning your summer abroad far in advance, so as to avoid last-minute stress later. This entails everything from packing (leave plenty of room in your suitcase for souvenirs to bring back) to applying for a visa (if necessary). GoAbroad’s Guide to Studying Abroad is an excellent place to learn more tips on the logistics of planning your study abroad experience.

Don’t forget to meet with your university’s study abroad office and academic advisor before leaving to confirm that all credits that you take abroad will transfer back to your home university.

Studying abroad is not unaffordable; there are a number of scholarships, grants and financial aid programs that assist students in their goals of going abroad and some countries, and you can find a number of them in GoAbroad’s Scholarship Directory. Save yourself the headache and make a budget before you go! Most programs include excursions and cultural events, but it’s smart to plan for activities that you might want to explore on your own (and don’t hold back on that second scoop of gelato).

Keep a record of your experiences! Whether it’s through blogging, videos, journaling, souvenir-collecting or photography, be sure to keep physical memories from your adventures abroad. Not only will you be able to use these for future academic or employment pursuits, you’ll also need them a year later when you’re incredibly nostalgic and craving those authentic papusas that your host mother used to make.

Going abroad in the summer is an affordable option that will not only count towards your academic credits, but will also set you apart in the future for graduate school applications or job interviews. Moreover, studying abroad in the summer of 2016 will change how you see the world and where you see yourself in it.

Be brave and sip the study abroad koolaid - you won’t regret it.