You’ve heard it a thousand times – your overly excited, fresh-from-abroad classmate exclaiming “Studying abroad was a life changing experience!” Now before your eyes glaze over and you avoid the topic of travel like the plague, we are here to explain why your peer is so passionate – and why you should be excited too. Many students have dreams of studying abroad, but only a handful actually go; could it be because they don’t know where to start? GoAbroad to the rescue! We’ve been working tirelessly to bring you a directory of 30,000+ study abroad programs, not to mention the tools you need to make it happen. Follow these steps to get started.
Step 1: Find a Study Abroad Program
You can search for study abroad programs by a specific location, area of study, length of stay, or region, or any combination of the latter characteristics. However, GoAbroad also offers you access to experts through our Online Advisor, so don’t be afraid to let US do your homework for YOU. It takes less than two minutes to fill out an inquiry form about your interests, and then our magical matchmaker team will send you program options within 24 hours that have been handpicked just for you. You’re welcome in advance!
If you’re in the shopping phase of looking for a study abroad program, consider signing up for a MyGoAbroad account. This tool will help you customize your experience on GoAbroad. It allows you to bookmark and save programs as you browse, and then compare them side-by-side to determine which is best for you!
Other Resources to Check Out:
Reviews! Read reviews of programs written by past participants. Read interviews with program alumni and staff of the organization that interests you. Request alumni contacts from the organization, so you can speak directly to a past participant.
Online Resources. The GoAbroad Online Advisor, our fabulous Study Abroad Articles, the MyGoAbroad tool, and our awesome program listings are all available just for you!
On-Campus Resources. Your school’s Study Abroad Office, Financial Aid Office, Registrar's, your parents, and fellow peers who are study abroad alumni can all give you the scoop.
Things To Think About:
Locations. If you have several places you are interested in, browse some articles about each. Read our comprehensive guides to studying abroad in specific places and find lists dedicated to the best places to study abroad. In the end, rest easy knowing there’s no bad choice! There are many benefits to studying abroad in Australia as well as China, not to mention Mexico and England. Take your pick.
Educational Benefits. Will you get academic credit for the program you’re selecting? Does it fill out ALL of your check boxes for the program of your dreams? Don’t settle for studying art in Spain if you’re passionate about Monet. Don’t decide to study in Beijing if your heart was set on Shanghai.
Cost. Study abroad program costs vary depending on the level of support you receive from the program provider or host university. Be sure to compare inclusions, such as housing, excursions, food, before settling on a study abroad program that fits your needs and budget.
Step 2: Figure Out How to Pay for It
An international education doesn’t have to be expensive; study abroad programs can be found for every budget. But, it’s up to you to consider all of your options, apply for scholarships on scholarships on scholarships, and get to pinching those pennies.
This will likely be an important issue with your parents if they are involved in your finances, so be sure to share the tools and resources outlined below with them. Try to actively participate in paying for your study abroad program to enjoy the sweet, sweet pleasure of delayed gratification. Saving and budgeting is all part of the fun.
Financial aid may apply! If you are 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. Choosing an approved study abroad program through an accredited U.S. school is the simplest and surest way to know aid will apply.
$cholarships & Loans. There’s free money out there with your name on it, you just have to find it! Check out these tools for advice on applying for and finding scholarships and loans.
- Study Abroad Loans. Get the scoop on loans for study abroad and start comparing and applying.
- Scholarship Directory. Browse all different types of financial aid opportunities, from grants to fellowships to good ol’ scholarships.
- Scholarship Application Advice & Tips. These articles are specially curated content to help YOU write the winning words.
One final tip: Apply for multiple awards and alert everyone in your campus network of your ambitions to secure a study abroad scholarship. You never know which professor will have the “in” with extra $$!
Jump on the Crowdfunding bandwagon! This is an organized way to receive financial support from friends, family, and anyone else who thinks you have a good idea. Online fundraising platforms, like FundMyTravel, allow aspiring travelers (like you!) to create a personalized fundraising campaign to help you pay for your study abroad experience. Fundraising campaigns can be as interactive as your motivation allows, and successful campaigns have raised thousands of dollars to send people across borders.
Step 3: Prepare for Your Trip
The organization you apply through will provide extensive help in your application process. Typical programs include assistance with your application, the visa process if needed, signing up for courses, finding housing, airport pickup, international health insurance, and even events and excursions.
Here are Some General Travel Recommendations:
- Communication. Have contact information for your host family, on-site coordinator, and country-specific Embassy information on you while traveling to your program location
- Passport. You will need to submit an extensive application to get a passport, most likely, so plan ahead because it takes several weeks!
- Health Concerns. Look up your location on the CDC website to see which vaccinations and medications (if any) you need to have before you leave.
Packing. Each location and experience will require you to pack different things, but anyone planning to study abroad should consider the weather, culture, and airline luggage restrictions. If all else fails, go light!
Step 4: Enjoy the Benefits!
The most important step to studying abroad is committing to be fully present in your destination. Take full advantage of the opportunity at hand, talk with people from other countries, break out of your comfort zone, take classes that directly relate to the area you’re in. Don’t waste the opportunity to...
- Have Glorious Adventures. Break out of your normal academic routine and have some fun.
- Gain New Skills. Challenge yourself and discover new strengths and abilities, whether professionally or personally.
- Master a New Language. Don’t rest on your English-speaking-laurels while abroad; up your cred by getting a foreign language under your belt.
- Get Exposed...to a New Culture. Nothing makes you more aware of the similarities and differences of our lives than experiencing a foreign culture firsthand.
- Score Better Job Opps. Gain a competitive edge and increase your job options.
- Travel Regularly. Venture to new cities, countries, landscapes, and landmarks every weekend. Give that passport a workout!
- Make New Friends. Increase your network and gain new travel buddies, from all corners of the world!
Step 5: Return Home
I know what you’re 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, although some students choose to prolong their stay by adding another semester or finding internships abroad.
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. Before the onset, envision your post-study-abroad life.
After you arrive home...
- Use your newly minted skills back home
- Become a campus leader
- Keep your language abilities
- Put study abroad on your resume and get an awesome job
- Maintain contact with your overseas friends
- Go abroad again!
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. The important thing is to actively connect your study abroad experience with your life back home in creative ways.
Ready to lace up those boots and board the plane? Follow the map and see where it takes you!