| University of Tampa

4 Steps to Choosing a Study Abroad Program

Wherever you decide to go in the world remember to go with an open mind and an open heart.

Studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity to explore a new country, learn a language, meet new people, try new foods, and have a great time while still in school. Studying abroad encouraged me to grow as a person, allowed me to meet some amazing people, and was overall an experience I would not trade for anything in the world.

While the time abroad seems to fly by, the process before leaving seems never ending. From picking a country, to deciding on a program, to finally filling out all the necessary paperwork there is much to consider. Choosing the right study abroad program is one of the most important factors in having a pleasant experience abroad. Below are some things to think about before you decide to embark on your new adventure abroad.

Can you study abroad?
Whether or not you can study abroad mainly depends on your university’s policies, and the compromises you may or may not be willing to make. As soon as the thoughts of studying abroad begin to form you should go consult your study abroad office and see what they have to say. Depending on what year you are in school, what major, and what financial obligations you have, it is worth speaking with someone who has all the answers and can guide you through the process step by step.

Location of Program
The second step is deciding where you want to go. Have you studied German, Spanish, French or Mandarin for the past 6 years and want to perfect your language skills in a native setting? Are you eager to adopt a new life style and pick up surfing? Are you looking to network, intern, and build connections for a future career abroad? Depending on where in the world you want to study make sure that you find a program that specializes in programs in that country. I knew that I wanted to study abroad in China, and although an increasing amount of providers are now beginning to offer programs in Asia, I chose TEAN because they currently limit their programs to Asia pacific and Australia. Due to this specialization I felt that the programs they offered were more comprehensive and specific to my needs and interests. Furthermore I had already decided I wanted to study in Shanghai and TEAN was one of the few providers that I had looked at the offered a semester in Shanghai with an included trip to Beijing.

Length of Program
The third decision to consider is how long you want to be abroad. Do you want to go for a summer, a semester, or a full year? I studied abroad in Shanghai for a semester, but could have easily stayed a year if I wasn’t due to graduate the semester I returned. Plan accordingly and check the residency requirements of your home university. Those who study abroad earlier in their college careers usually have more flexibility in terms of classes that they can take abroad, while those who decide to study abroad during their junior or senior years could find themselves more limited. Some universities require students to take their last X amount of hours at the home institution, so if you are like me and decide to study abroad your last or second to last semester, make sure your university will be willing to waive these hours for you.

Details of the Program
Once you have decided where you are going and for how long, you should start considering the different aspects of each of the programs. You have to decide what is important to you- are excursions and travel opportunities the most important? Are classes offered at the host university important? Is the size of the program a deciding factor?

When making my decision I first considered the reputation of Fudan and the classes I would be able to take there. Since I was a second semester junior at the time of my semester abroad, being able to take classes that would fulfill my major requirements was really important to me. Furthermore I also considered the several excursions TEAN offers, the living accommodations available to students, reviews from TEAN alumni, and the price of the overall program compared to others. Everyone is different and will be looking for details of programs that are unique to them. Making a pros and cons list of my top three choices helped me make my final decision.

Wherever you decide to go in the world remember to go with an open mind and an open heart.

Johanna Forsgren

University of Tampa | 1 story

Johanna has already spent the majority of her life studying abroad, moving with her family from country to country. She was born in Sweden, but has lived in Slovakia, England, and several locations in the US including Florida to attend the University of Tampa. She studied abroad with The Education Abroad Network in Shanghai, China at Fudan University this past Spring. Johanna is a Government and World Affairs major with six years of Chinese language study.

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