Studying abroad is an experience that nearly everyone dreams of having. But for some students, full schedules can throw a wrench in their dreams of traveling abroad. It can be difficult to find a program that doesn't interfere with the daily norm for collegiate athletes, student organization leaders, Greek Council members and other students whose schedules just won't allow for a semester abroad.
So how does the "super student" find time to travel abroad? Studying in another country is possible, but it may require some difficult decisions. Ask yourself these questions to find out which type of program is best for you.
Can I remain involved in my organization while abroad?
Depending on what you are involved in, it may be possible to incorporate your travels into your university involvement. If you are part of a student publication, ask if you can continue to contribute as a foreign correspondent while abroad. Involved in a sport that requires preseason training? Choose a program that will give you easy access to a gym or running trails. Speak with the head of your organization before studying abroad to see what options of continued involvement are available.
How important is my university involvement?
It's not always possible to remain involved in a student organization while studying abroad; you may need to make some sacrifices. So before going abroad, decide how important your student involvement is. Maybe your team is projected to win a national title or you're involved in an intensive program that doesn't allow time for going abroad. If this is the case, look into programs that take place during the breaks in your education. Summer and winter breaks are perfect study abroad opportunities for heavily involved students. Depending on what you want to get out of an experience abroad, taking a few weeks to study or volunteer in a different country is another option for busy students.
How important is studying abroad?
If you want to become fluent in a language or truly immerse yourself into a culture, going abroad for one to three months may not give you enough time to reach your goals. It might be necessary to give up a semester or even a year of extracurricular activities to get everything you want out of studying abroad. This is a tough decision, so take the time to think it through. University involvement and studying abroad are both unique experiences that give students valuable skills which can be used in careers and life in general. While giving up student involvement is a difficult choice, it will be worth it if you have global goals.
Can I go abroad after graduation?
Remember, the opportunity to travel abroad doesn't disappear as soon as you get your diploma. If studying abroad doesn't work with your schedule, you can always volunteer abroad, intern abroad, teach abroad or work abroad after graduation. Many students take a year off before jumping into the work force or heading to graduate school. If taking a break after graduation fits into your plan, why not use this time to experience a new culture? Check out the many opportunities listed on GoAbroad.com to find something that interests you!
What's preventing you from studying abroad? Are you willing to give up student involvement to go abroad?