Since finding out I’m going abroad, many friends have come to me asking how they “sign-up” to go abroad. You’d think I have a straightforward answer by now – but in all honesty, the study abroad process can be difficult. Notice I say CAN be difficult! It all depends on where you aspire to travel, what you hope to learn (how it will coincide with your major), and how early you start planning!
Here are the steps I took – the condensed version.
1. $$$$ – Know your budget
Lord knows I wish I would have done this first. KNOW YOUR BUDGET PEOPLE. It’s crucial and will save you a lot of pain and suffering. Do calculations – and over calculate. You will spend more money than the average semester. So … start saving. Get off the couch and get a job you lazy bum! OR research scholarships. There are numerous scholarships readily available for students studying abroad. Why? Because only 1% of college kids have the drive to go.
2. Visit your college’s Study Abroad Office
This step is a must at some point in your process. They know everything, seriously. Which is why I went there first. I go to the University of Arkansas and their Study Abroad Office’s team is phenomenal. I swear my counselor Sarah deserves an award for how many times I was in her office being an utter nuisance – I love you Sarah!
—>> If you are wanting to study abroad and your school doesn’t have a study abroad office, don’t fret! Follow these next steps and then contact your college counselor & let them know where you are wanting to go. They should be able to help you as much as they can once you have picked a place and program.
3. Pick a country
The exciting part! I had at least 15 countries to narrow down at the beginning of my process last year. At first I was wanting to go to Prague – and now? Not my cup of tea. It takes time, which is why you should start your study abroad process EARLY!
Side note: Prague is first on my list of European countries to visit. I just didn’t want to study there anymore
4. Pick your Program
Not every program offers every country. You have to find one that fits your needs. Here are some to name a few!
International Studies Abroad - My program. They are AWESOME at communicating & making things very clear and upfront. No surprises and GREAT prices.
SAS – Semester At Sea (REALLY awesome program, if you can afford it)
These are just a few of the larger programs – many colleges also have school sponsored programs which can be great as well.
5. Pick your classes
Seems simple enough, but you have to think really hard about what you want to take and how it fits your degree requirements. At the beginning of the year I was thinking of going medical, but the hard truth is that study abroad programs simply don’t offer science classes (unless you have an appetite for China!)
At the U of Arkansas you meet with each professor who (as close as possible) would be the one to teach the class you desire to take abroad if it were available at your home school. Confused yet? That professor then tells you the equivalent class offered at your home university and signs off on it. This must be done for each class you want to take abroad or your credits may not transfer.
It’s time-consuming but saves you a lot of future trouble.
6. Prepare to go Abroad!
This step has numerous smaller steps including but not limited to:
*Getting a visa
*Getting a passport
*Buying plane tickets
*SAVING MONEY (don’t forget!)
*Making sure you have 3 forms of money available; Cash, Debit Card, Credit Card >> & making sure your cards wont expire while you’re there
*Informing your credit card company where you’ll be for those months
*Getting travel exceptions on any prescription medicine you need in bulk
*Proper travel gear >>Check out how I am packing to go abroad here
*Learn the language of your new home!
The study abroad process is LONG – but it also fun! You’re planning for a once in a life time experience, ENJOY IT!
None of the above pictures are of my property & I do not own any rights to them. Taken via Pinterest.