Study Abroad

Undecided? Check out these regions of the world.
Back to Programs

A Guide to Study Abroad

Have you been dragging your feet on the way to class lately? Do you daydream about rattling off phrases flawlessly in another language, or doing research at a field station deep in the middle of the rainforest? There’s a reason that students who study abroad can’t stop talking about it. Spending time abroad not only fulfills academic goals, but also lets you experience a new culture, language, and environment. Nailing down all the details can seem overwhelming, but lucky for you, GoAbroad is here to help! With a directory of over 30,000 study abroad programs and all sorts of helpful tools, it’s easy to turn your study abroad dreams into reality.

Step 1: Find a Program

With so many options to choose from, this can be the most daunting part of your search. Before you have a mini-breakdown, take a deep breath and remember why you want to study abroad. There’s a perfect program out there waiting for you and tons of resources to help you find it. You can start your search for programs based on destination, field of study, and duration on GoAbroad. If you need us to narrow down your search, get in touch with our Online Advisors for help!

Don't forget to take advantage of all the resources you have. Chat up everyone who will be involved in your experience, from your school’s Study Abroad, Financial Aid, and Registrar’s offices to your friends, parents, and professors. Become best friends with Google, delve into program reviews, peruse study abroad articles, sign up for MyGoAbroad, and read as much as you can about your chosen destination. 

Keep in Mind:

  • Locations. If there are several places you’re interested in, browse some articles or read our comprehensive guides to studying abroad in specific locations.
  • Educational Benefits. Be sure to check in with your school to make sure you receive credit for your efforts overseas! 
  • Cost. Study abroad program costs vary and often depend on the level of support you receive from the program provider or host university. Be sure to factor in things like housing, excursions, food, and airfare when comparing prices; these may or may not be included in the program fees.

Step 2: Figure Out How to Pay for It

We know what you’re thinking. College is already expensive, so how will you find the extra cash to take classes in another country? It’s true that some study abroad programs are pricier than others, but the good news is that programs exist for every budget.

If you’re not planning to self-fund your trip, be sure to involve your parents early on in the discussion to choose a realistic budget for your program. Remind them of the benefits of study abroad programs and that their investment will last far beyond the semester you’ll be away. 

Regardless of who’s footing the bill, below are some tried and true methods for reaching your goals: 

  • Financial Aid. If you’re currently receiving a grant or scholarship, especially if supplied by the government, chances are it can be used for studying abroad. Contact your financial aid office or scholarship provider.
  • Scholarships. There’s free money out there with your name on it, you just have to find it! Check out GoAbroad’s scholarship directory and read some articles on finding and apply for scholarships. 
  • Loans. Get the scoop on loans for study abroad and start comparing providers. 
  • Crowdfunding. Many students have realized their study abroad goals by using an online fundraising platform such as FundMyTravel.
  • Get a Job. Work now, play later. While it may be tough to hit the books after a long shift on your feet, the extra effort you put in now will all be worth it when you hop on that plane. 

Studying abroad does take serious budgeting and planning (welcome to #adulting!), but it’s not as daunting as it first appears. Saving is much easier with a goal in mind, and what better goal than knowing you’ll be wandering foreign streets in less than a year’s time?

Step 3: Prepare For Your Adventure

Once you’ve chosen your program and secured funding, it’s time to start planning your trip. This will probably be fun and stressful at the same time, but don’t worry! Your study abroad provider will be key in helping you through this process. Most programs offer assistance with your application, the visa process (if needed), course registration, housing, airport pickup, international health insurance, and even events and excursions. That said, there are still some things you’ll need to take care of on your own: 

  • Documents. Ensure you have a valid passport and visa for your destination.
  • Health Check. Visit the CDC website to find out if you need any vaccinations or medications.
  • Packing. Be sure to consider the weather, culture, and airline luggage restrictions before throwing something in your suitcase.

If you feel like you’re forgetting something, you probably are! But learning to go with the flow and solve problems on the fly is what studying abroad is all about, so think of these preparations as good training for your time abroad.

Step 4: Live Your Best Study Abroad Life

Studying abroad is all about breaking out of your comfort zone and experiencing something new. It’s impossible to predict the unexpected, hilarious, and memorable situations you’ll find yourself in once you’re abroad. 

Academics may be the reason you’ve decided to study abroad, but they aren’t the only thing you should focus on. For a well-rounded study abroad experience, it’s important to balance school with the cultural learning that happens outside of the classroom. Go to class, study for tests, and be an engaged student, but don’t neglect what’s going on around you either! 

Going abroad can be challenging because you’re dropped into a new environment with new cultural norms, but learning about your surroundings is part of the fun. Do your research in advance to learn about local customs, but then try to make friends with locals who can confirm what you’ve learned.

Make an effort to immerse yourself. Challenge yourself to only speak your new language and then be amazed with how quickly your skills progress. Spend every weekend you can getting out into nature and exploring your surroundings. There’s a reason you saved your pennies and traveled across the planet - don’t waste a single opportunity!

Step 5: Return Home a New Person

You may be thinking, “Why do I have to think about returning home already? I’m still just trying to get there!”, but we firmly believe having the end goal in sight will help your overall study abroad process run smoothly. And while we hate to break it to you, you typically do have to come back home.

Your return home is when the real work begins. With new eyes and new perspectives, you now have the unique task of stepping into your global citizenship and creating impact in your communities. Use your new-found confidence to become a campus leader or join a conversation group to keep up your language fluency. And don’t forget to add your experience abroad to your resume

Use these end goals to motivate yourself to stay productive, sharp, and intentional during your time abroad. The return can be bittersweet; you will bring many things back home, but also leave much behind. Try to actively connect your study abroad experience with your life back home in creative ways, and then start planning your next trip!

Read More

written by:

A Guide To
Study Abroad


This listing has been saved 30 times

ISA Study Abroad in Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, home to one in three New Zealanders. The "Super City," as it is often referred to, touches the Pacific Ocean on the eastern side and the Tasman Sea on the western side....

ISA Study in Auckland

This listing has been saved 33 times

University Programs—Costa Rica | Guatemala | Peru

Maximo Nivel offers university programs year round including Fall Semester, Winter Session (J-term), Spring Semester, and Summer Session. University students can study part-time or full-time. University credit is awarded by California State University-Monterey Bay and/or our local university partners in...

Maximo Nivel TEFL students

This listing has been saved 240 times

Affordable, Comprehensive Study and Intern Abroad Programs!

CISabroad study and intern abroad programs are some of the most affordable, comprehensive program packages available. We also don't cut any corners by offering everything you would expect from an overseas program: tuition, housing, support before, during and after; insurance,...

advisor team posing with the CISabroad banner

This listing has been saved 6 times

API at Royal Thimphu College in Thimphu, Bhutan

API students who study abroad in Thimphu will be able to directly enroll with Bhutanese students and take courses as only a few fortunate westerners are able to do! Students will take 2-3 courses with Bhutanese students in a variety...

Study in Bhutan - API

This listing has been saved 30 times

American University of Beirut

The American University of Beirut has long been admired for the strength and breadth of its academic programs and its commitment to a broad-based liberal arts education. All entering undergraduate students are required to complete a number of general education...

American University of Beirut

This listing has been saved 4 times

USAC CHINA: Chengdu-Chinese Language and Culture Studies

Ancient, culturally rich and picturesque, Chengdu is the perfect destination for anyone hoping to immerse in China’s heritage and natural beauty. While the capital of Sichuan province boasts of these aspects, it is also known as Southwest China’s center of...

study in China - USAC

This listing has been saved 13 times

Study Abroad at Queen Mary University of London

Queen Mary University of London [QMUL] is one of the UK’s leading research-focused higher education institutions. With over 20,000 students in total, including over 900 study abroad students welcomed to campus each year, QMUL offers a truly global experience. Based...

aerial view of Queen Mary University of London's campus building

This listing has been saved 3 times

Join our cross-cultural film study & production in Baliwood

This is a special program that lets you learn the local culture through film production methods. It covers topics like film wardrobe with local fashion; acting class with local language; filming of Bali’s beautiful panorama; and creation of film properties...

Film Study in Baliwood

This listing has been saved 1 time

Buddhist Studies in Bodh Gaya, India

Carleton College, one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, now operates the long-established Buddhist Studies in India program previously offered by Antioch Education Abroad. Since 1979, this program has become recognized for the academic excellence of its comparative approach...

Carlton Global Buddhist Studies

This listing has been saved 4 times

International School of Fashion Design in English

The Cracow School of Art and Fashion Design offers a two-and-a-half-year full-time program that enables students to release their full potential. At the school, students are in the heart of a vibrant community, alive with creative energy, Students are surrounded...

red and yellow