Home is Where Your Stuff Is: Tips to Consider When You Study Abroad
By College Tourist of 10/23/12
If you’re interested in taking a semester or more to experience college life outside the US, you will have to decide “Where?” With Colleges offering more Study Abroad options than ever before, there may be several destinations that match your academic needs. Here are a few things to consider when deciding which city to call home.
Metropolis or Village
The most popular choices for studying abroad tend to be bigger cities such as London or Paris. These larger cities offer much to see and plenty of hustle and bustle, but what of the smaller cities? While smaller cities may not offer quite the same vibe, they often allow students to experience the local culture and customs in a more authentic setting. Life may be at a slower pace and less cosmopolitan, encouraging a greater appreciation the social and cultural intricacies.
Getting the Lingo
If you’re specializing in a language, then studying abroad is an obvious choice. Cities with a tourism-based economy will more likely have many more English-speaking inhabitants than a city with a more traditional economy. So, total emersion is much more likely in an environment with fewer people eager to practice their English with you. Salamanca, Spain for example, is know as the ‘City of Spanish Language’ and is a popular choice for language students.
Ski or Surf
Despite all your efforts to study hard, one of the best reasons to enroll in a study abroad program is to get out and experience the local lifestyle. Do you see yourself skiing the Swiss Alps in your spare time? Perhaps a semester in Lucerne, Switzerland is a better choice than the balmy coast of Maceio, Brazil. Take your own interests and hobbies into account when searching for a program.
In selecting a destination also remember to consider the overall suitability of the city and the country. Keeping in mind the necessities such as safety, affordability, healthcare, student visa applications and the political climate of the country. It might be your dream destination with a great academic program, but if you are forced to live too far away from the campus in an unsavory neighborhood just to make ends meet, it will have a detrimental effect on your overall experience.
More importantly, embrace the experience. Perhaps once you are away, it is not the lifestyle you were hoping for but by immersing yourself in the experience you may be surprised by the new aspects of your life that you come to love.