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

Here’s how to study abroad. With so many options to choose from, this can be the most daunting part of your search. Is it better to learn Spanish in Argentina or Spain? Which countries have the best programs for engineers? Should you go for a whole year or just a semester? Before you have a mini-breakdown, take a deep breath and remember why you want to study abroad. You can do this! There’s a perfect program out there waiting for you and tons of resources to help you find it. 

At GoAbroad, you can search for programs based on destination, field of study, and duration. If your results list is still throwing out dozens of suggestions, get in touch with an Online Advisor to help you narrow the field to a few solid choices. 

Take Advantage of Resources: 

  • People. Now’s the time to 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. 
  • Online. Become best friends with Google as you delve into program reviews, peruse study abroad articles, sign up for MyGoAbroad, and read as much as you can on 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. In the end, rest easy knowing there’s no bad choice! 
  • Educational Benefits. Will you get academic credit for the program you’ve selected? How will credit transfer work? 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: 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 willing to do some searching. 

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. Pro tip: choosing an approved study abroad program through an accredited U.S. school is the simplest and surest way to know aid will apply.
  • 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. Let strangers and relatives alike help send you across borders and seas for an enriching learning opportunity! 
  • 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 TRIP

Once you’ve chosen your program, secured funding, and spent sleepless nights imagining yourself greeting strangers in a foreign language, it’s time to start planning your trip. This will probably be fun and stressful at the same time, but don’t worry! This is a feeling you’ll grow to know and love in the coming months as you navigate a new culture. 

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 are everything. Ensure you have a valid passport and visa for your destination. Be sure to also carry other important documents such as program and host family contact information, travel insurance numbers, and printed copies of travel reservations. 
  • Do a health check. Visit the CDC website to find out if you need any vaccinations or medications before arriving in your host country. 
  • Pull out the flashcards. Start learning some of the local language, including greetings and common phrases. Before you know it, you’ll be saying “konnichiwa” instinctively. 
  • Packing. Be sure to consider the weather, culture, and airline luggage restrictions before throwing something in your suitcase. If all else fails, go light!

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: SUCCEEDING ABROAD

Studying abroad is all about breaking out of your comfort zone and experiencing something new. Never tried the tango before? Now’s your chance! What about tasting local bushmeat or hiking to the top of a volcano? 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. They’ll be the best resource for information about your city, new culture, and the local language. 

Make an effort to immerse yourself. If you’ve traveled to China to learn Mandarin, challenge yourself to only speak your new language and then be amazed with how quickly your skills progress. If you chose to study ecology in Costa Rica, 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: RETURNING HOME

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, 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. 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

READ ARTICLE
Save

This listing has been saved 1 time

ISA Study Abroad in Lima, Peru

Lima, the capital of Peru, is located on the west coast of the southern Pacific Ocean, along the outlet of the Rímac River. Lima is full of fascinating contrasts between traditional and modern influences. The traditional influences evolved from Peru's...

ISA (International Studies Abroad)
Save

This listing has been saved 25 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
Save

This listing has been saved 2 times

AIFS Study Abroad in Athens: January Term

Earn 3 semester credits during a 3-week January term studying abroad in Athens, Greece. All courses are taught in English. Students can choose from: Topography and Monuments of Ancient Athens; Modern Greece: A Troubled History; or International Business. Live in student...

American Institute For Foreign Study
Save

This listing has been saved 165 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,...

CISabroad homepage feature study abroad
Save

This listing has been saved 13 times

Semester at Sea: Global Study Abroad on a Floating Campus

Embark on an intellectually-challenging study abroad program offered by Semester at Sea, the nation's leading shipboard program for study abroad. Participants circumnavigate the globe each fall and spring semester, and explore a specific world region each summer. A state-of-the-art passenger...

Semester at Sea
Save

API at the University of Havana in Havana, Cuba

Spend a term living on the biggest of the Caribbean islands and have an abroad experience like no other! It is perfect for the student who is adventurous, has an intermediate to advanced grasp on the Spanish language, and would...

Academic Programs International
Save

This listing has been saved 5 times

Semester Study Abroad in Seville, Spain - Adelante Abroad

Seville, Spain is a beloved destination among tourists. Enjoy a semester in one of southern Spain's most popular Andalusian cities! In Seville, students are sure to develop their Spanish language, conversation, and reading composition skills. Language acquisition and cultural immersion are...

Adelante Abroad
Save

This listing has been saved 143 times

IES Abroad: Global Brilliance Begins Here

IES Abroad offers 120+ programs in more than 35 locations worldwide for undergraduate students. We're a little obsessed with study abroad, and not at all ashamed to admit it. We are a highly-charged force of study abroad enthusiasts. Every day we...

study Abroad
Save

This listing has been saved 1 time

USAC SPAIN: San Sebastián - Basque & European Studies

The San Sebastian program opens an academic window on the Spanish and Basque people, introducing you to the rich diversity of Spain and offering a truly multicultural experience. San Sebastian has the highest level of bilingualism of any of the...

University Studies Abroad Consortium
Save

This listing has been saved 5 times

Athena Study Abroad in Barcelona, Spain

Grab the opportunity to study in Spain at the renowned Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona with Athena Study Abroad. The university is among the best academic centers in Spain and the European Union, both for the quality of its teaching staff...

Athena Study Abroad - Spain
Save

This listing has been saved 69 times

Win a $2,500 scholarship to travel abroad with ScholarTrips

What’s your dream travel experience? Submit a short video or essay answering this question, and you could win up to $2,500 from ScholarTrips to study or volunteer in the country of your choice. For over a decade, Allianz Global Assistance has been helping...

allianz scholarships