Fall is the season when leaves, temperatures, and spirits all drop. Summer is over, your tan is already fading, and all-night study sessions are looming. If the thought of going back to classes after a long, lazy summer is getting you down, you are clearly forgetting one very important thing: the season of pumpkin soups, cozy scarves, and galoshes also happens to be the perfect time to study abroad. Going back to class in another country is guaranteed to make you fall in love with fall.
Why Choose Fall Study Abroad
Studying abroad in fall (or autumn, depending on your destination) is more sensible than that wooly hat your grandma made for you. While studying abroad is a year-round possibility, opting to take that leap during the fall semester is the optimum way of marrying your studies with new experiences, and delivering a semester abroad that will go down as the highlight of your university career.
Since studying abroad in fall generally means studying abroad for a semester, you will get to spend a few months, rather than a few weeks, in another country. More time abroad means a greater depth of experience, more credits earned, and more stories to tell. Whether it is learning another language, exploring a different culture, or making friends from all over the globe, you will have plenty of time to expand your horizons.
What’s more, with a long summer to make plans, you have plenty of time to prepare, pack, and practice a few words of the local language. Not to mention ample opportunity to drool over Google images of your destination and put together your travel wish-list.
It is a good thing that you have all summer to prepare yourself for studying abroad in the fall, because choosing where to go might take a while. When it comes to studying abroad, the world is more than an oyster; it’s an ocean full of oysters. Fall study abroad opportunities are endless. While you thought moving overseas to study would be the hardest thing you ever did, you’re wrong: choosing where to move overseas for study is.
If your heart is set on Europe, France might be the fairest of them all when it comes to studying abroad in fall. Paris is forever timeless and there is a special magic in the air as the weather cools down and the tourists leave town. The many parks and tree-lined boulevards turn gold and crimson, and the warmth of coffee shops invites students in for study sessions. Hum your own chanson d'automne amidsts chocolate croissants and baguettes.
Further south, Greece is the perfect spot for study abroad students who want to prolong their summer just a little bit longer. Greece’s beaches can be enjoyed well into fall, and feta and olives have no season (plus they make great study snacks). Fall also happens to be the time of grape harvests and wine festivals in Greece, which will convince even non-oenophiles that this is the best season of the year.
If you want to skip fall altogether, half of the world conveniently has opposite seasons. In the southern hemisphere, you can spend your fall semester abroad springing into sunny study sessions. Australia’s laid-back culture, endless beaches, and blue skies will ensure that you never have to suffer from exam-stress.
Alternatively, Argentina beckons the adventurous at heart. From Patagonia to tango to mate, Argentina promises to provide plenty of extra-curricular learning. As a bonus, world-class steaks and wine are affordable even for students in Argentina, meaning your student diet of toast and peanut butter will quickly become a distant memory.
Fall Study Abroad Programs
If you manage to narrow down your location, the next step is picking the ideal fall study abroad program. Fall study abroad programs vary as widely as spring weather, and there are more of them than apples on a tree in September.
With the sheer number of fall programs available, you will have no difficulty finding one that caters to your major. Rather than simply picking a fall study abroad program that checks credits off your college curriculum, take advantage of what your study abroad location or experience can add to your future career. Being in a foreign country means you will be perfectly position to study a foreign language, for example, or to put newfound cultural understanding to use by studying international relations. Alternatively, you can choose to immerse yourself in the best cultural aspects of a country. Imagine how much there is to be learned by studying fashion design in Paris or culinary arts in Florence.
While not every fall study abroad program is offered in English, many are taught in the world’s most widely spoken language. This means you won’t be limited by language when it comes to choosing a program location. If you want to connect with people outside of English-speaking circles though, get hold of a phrasebook or Duolingo your way to being able to chat with locals.
Fall study abroad semesters typically last from September to December. It may seem like a huge commitment at first, but before you know it you will be heading home for the festive season, teary-eyed and with more photos than you will ever be able to Instagram.
Tips & Advice for Fall Travel
You don’t want your fall study abroad experience to fall flat. There is more to studying abroad than just selecting a location and a program; making the most of the experience requires a little commitment and forward thinking.
Cue: hard work. Take the “study” part of fall study abroad seriously. While every day will seem exciting and closeting yourself in your room to get assignments done may seem like a waste of valuable travel time, don’t underestimate the importance of the credits you need to earn.
Having said that, a good balance between work and play (or study and travel) is also important. Fall is prime travel time, with fewer tourists, lower prices, and friendlier temperatures. So grab a few of your new friends and road-trip, bus-hop, or rail card your way to somewhere new.
Finally, embrace the season. While Halloween and Thanksgiving might be your favorite holidays in your home country, they might be non-existent or completely different in your study abroad country. Studying abroad in fall still involves learning about more than just the chosen subject; you will also learn about your host culture, customs, and traditions. Seize the opportunity to find out what fall festivals and holidays there are in other countries (ie: Oktoberfest!).
Benefits & Challenges
Fall is a transformative season, and you will find yourself changing as quickly as the color of the leaves. If your parents are a little skeptical about the idea of overseas study, just fill them in on all of the tangible benefits you will get from studying abroad in the fall.
For starters, you will be adding priceless experience to your resume, which will come in handy when you want to woo potential employers. Having the guts, the know-how, and the drive to push yourself out of comfortable familiarity and into the unknown says a lot about your character. Ticking off a fall semester abroad is also indicative of deeper intercultural understanding and global knowledge, not to mention the colorful passport stamps and handy skills, such as speaking a second language.
As an added bonus, spending a fall semester studying abroad will satiate your thirst for travel without interrupting your degree trajectory. Mom and Dad can’t argue with that, and instead of just daydreaming about travel while reading inspirational quotes on Pinterest, you will have the satisfaction of actually being the explorer in the photo.
Of course, studying abroad in fall isn’t without its challenges. One of the most significant obstacles prospective study abroad students face is how to pay for the venture. Students aren’t generally known for having excess cash, and looking at travel costs and course fees can be enough to scare students away from the idea of studying abroad in fall and back to a life of two-minute noodles and second-hand shopping. However, the good news for aspiring study abroad students is that there is a wealth of funding out there. Before you give up and resign yourself to a fall semester at home, take a look at the GoAbroad Scholarship Directory.
Don’t let the chance of an unforgettable fall study abroad experience slip through your fingers. Grab the opportunity with both hands, pick a country, find a program, hop on that plane, and make fall your new favorite season.