The Study Abroad Blog Post
I grew up in a family of food lovers. That on top of a fascination with Western Europe led me to want to study abroad in college. I came to this realization during the winter of my junior year, right after I came back from a semester studying in Washington, D.C. I knew that it would be a hard sell to my parents to persuade them to allow me to study abroad right after spending a semester in D.C., so I did some intensive research into a summer program in Paris. I decided to apply for the program, and immediately I sought out different scholarships. In the end, everything worked out and I spent 6 weeks during the summer of 2013 in Paris studying French literature and enjoying Bordeaux wine, freshly baked baguettes, and super stinky cheese.
Moral of my story: it takes research, planning, and communication to make studying abroad work. Here are a few things that need to be considered before making your decision:
1) Where do you want to study abroad?
The location of your study abroad program is up to you, and it is important to consider several things. First, figure out which programs are being offered in the locations in which you are interested. After you find one or two that seem intriguing, visit the office of overseas study and see if the credits that are being offered through those programs will transfer to IU. It’s also important to consider the cost of different locations. Some countries are more expensive to live in than others, taking into account the exchange rate between the dollar and the native currency, among other things. Finally, think about what kind of experience you want to have. Are you looking to explore a new metropolitan center, or are you more interested in staying outdoors and exploring Mother Nature in a different country?
2) How long do you want to study abroad?
There are several different lengths of study abroad programs: you can study for a summer (what I did), for a semester, or for a year. Things to consider when weighing these options include the cost of these different programs. Obviously staying abroad longer will cost more in terms of tuition and living expenses, not to mention possible flights home if you wanted to come back to the states for major holidays. Another consideration is your toleration for being in a far away land for long periods of time. Do you want to focus more on sight-seeing and exploring more as a tourist (short trip), or are you more interested in improving your foreign-language skills and learning more about another culture?
3) How will you pay for studying abroad?
Lastly, and most importantly, studying abroad is not cheap. There are different options here: save up money beforehand. If you’re a freshman or sophomore, take a summer job and put that money aside for your big upper class trip. Another very big option is scholarships. There are several scholarships offered through the university, including through the Hutton Honors College and through different academic programs and departments. There are also lots of different scholarships available online, at websites like these:
Don’t let a lack of planning keep you from exploring the world as an undergraduate! You’re only in college once, and with a little research and organization, you can make your study abroad dreams come true. Happy travels J