Before You Go: the Experience Before the Experience
5 ways to prepare to study abroad.
If you are reading this, it’s pretty likely that you are either going to study abroad or considering studying abroad. So, first things first ~ go for it! If you have the opportunity, don’t hesitate. It may be different from your initial college plan but finding someone that will discourage an experience studying abroad is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. It is an adventure unlike any other, and a great opportunity to experience more of this wonderful planet. There are just certain things you experience and learn, even just from preparing for your adventure, that you don’t get anywhere else. If you feel like you found out things about yourself just from moving across the state or even out of state for school, how much more could happen when you move to a different country? JUST DO IT!
Explore your options:
Don’t get so focused on one study abroad option, that you don’t check out what else is out there. Just stay flexible. Your perfect adventure might be found elsewhere or it may be that initial trip that caught your eye and sparked your interest. Think about what experience suits what you’re looking for. If you are wanting job experience, look into internships abroad. If you are a business major, check out schools with good business programs. If you are interested in learning a new language, look for schools in areas that speak it. There are many avenues that can be taken and something for just about any aspect you could want. It certainly doesn’t hurt to look!
Sometimes, getting a scholarship or even getting the spot to begin with may seem like a longshot. You may think, “I’m applying too late to get accepted.” Or “I’m about to graduate and only have so many courses left to find equivalencies for.” Again, it doesn’t hurt to try! Take the steps and don’t wait. Even once you get accepted, there are things you can be proactive towards. Complete that document, take that pre-departure survey, whatever it may be, do it when you find out about it. There’s a lot that goes along with studying abroad, and putting things off can cause some things to be forgotten.
Do your research:
There are too many good resources out there to go into your study abroad experience blind. Good news is, you’re reading this article and that means you’re already trying to prepare! Good job! Definitely don’t stop here though, research the cultures you’re going to experience. There are some things that are acceptable in some countries that are absolute no-go’s in others. It’s easy to find out, whether it’s an article here on the wonderful collegetourist.com or if you can’t find the specifics here, look elsewhere. You can purchase guides for cheap that are relatively extensive. A lot of those will tell you what is culturally acceptable as well as where the best places to stay are, what the best places to see are, and what foods to try out. There’s a lot of valuable information out there that can help you maximize your experience abroad, take advantage of it!
Talk to others:
Similar to the last point, know what you’re getting yourself into. There’s a lot of wisdom that can be gathered from people that have been on similar experiences that you’re going to go on. You can ask specific questions that can’t be found in guides. A lot of schools set up seminars specifically for this. There are scholarship seminars, and others designed to help guide you along in the process. You can go and meet advisors that are very knowledgeable on the subject and are there solely to answer your questions. You also may know someone who has studied abroad before, so talk to them. It can just be to find out what was their favorite place that they visited, or how to adjust back to life after the experience. It’s pretty likely that they will want to talk to you about their experience. And you likely have an advisor, so if you have question, it is their job to answer it! So use your resources and then get out there and crush it!