Studying abroad just may transform your college experience. Many colleges offer the chance to pursue education in a foreign country, either for a few weeks, for an entire semester, or even for multi-semester exchange programs. Whether for a week or a year, studying abroad expands your horizons and exposes you to a plethora of new experiences. While not for everyone, if you take advantage of this opportunity, you’ll need a few background tips before beginning your journey.
Research Your Potential Destination
When planning to study abroad, research the destinations where your school offers programs or maintains partnerships. Does a particular country draw you? Explore the culture, the activities the locals enjoy, and the history of your intended destination. Learn the quirks of the transportation system, the local etiquette, and even the popular culture. Knowing what life is like in your destination country may help you decide if it’s a place you can see spending a week, a month, or an entire semester. Learning about your destination before arriving will help smooth your transition.
Prepare a Budget
While studying abroad may enrich your life, it may also deplete your bank account. Before departing for your experience abroad, develop two budgets: a total budget and a daily budget. The total budget will determine if you can afford the trip. The daily budget will help you spend wisely during your stay. Many colleges offer grant opportunities for students travelling abroad, so make sure to investigate options for financial assistance. You don’t want the cost to deter educational travel, but you’ll need to be savvy if you don’t want your experience to break the bank.
Wrap Up Loose Ends
Before you embark on your journey, make sure you’ve prepared for your absence. Take steps such as letting your bank know you’ll be out of the country for an extended period. This should preempt any problems using your credit or debit cards once you’ve begun traveling. Pinpoint currency exchange locations too, either at home before your departure, or in the vicinity of your arrival. Check out exchange rates in advance so you know you’re getting a fair rate. You should also make sure your passport is current — getting your passport up-to-date may take months. If you think you might travel abroad, now is the time to get the ball rolling! The sooner you do this, the less likely you’ll be delayed by bureaucratic wrangling. Also ensure you have all necessary medical clearances, read the latest tourism and travel safety advisories, and determine availability of mobile and wireless services at your destination. When traveling to a foreign country, you can’t be too prepared!
Recognize Educational Differences
Before you study abroad, ensure the quality of education you’ll receive is up to standards. Verify the accreditation of the school, check that credits will transfer to your domestic degree program, and establish the exchange-program support you need. Also be prepared for differences in the grading scale or semester schedule. In all likelihood, your college experience in your host country will differ from the one you’re used to. Take steps to learn and prepare for these differences so they become benefits rather than stumbling blocks.
Prepare for Incredible Personal Development
Being on your own in a foreign country can be enlightening. In fact, you may learn as much about yourself while studying abroad as you do about other cultures and places. Though new locales can be overwhelming, travel helps to increase your adaptability and tests your problem-solving and communication skills. You may grow to understand the world better and may discover your role within it, which is the type of knowledge you’re seeking as a college student. Traveling the world is a great way to receive a college education while learning beyond the boundaries of a rigid classroom.
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