Are you interested in studying abroad? This is a decision that cannot be taken lightly, as it will have an impact on just about everything in your future. A period of study abroad can be life-changing in many ways….it will give you a chance to get a global career, meet new people and explore new places, and broaden your horizons. You will get to be independent, enhance your personality and gain new experiences that would not have been possible back home!
How do you pick the right course and the right university, and how do you choose which country you would like to study in? You should do your research properly and gather all the information you can before making this decision. Here are a few tips.
Start planning early
If you want to study a semester abroad, talk to your university counselor. You should find out if there are any institutions abroad that offer partner programs which will be recognized at your college. Find out if credits will be transferrable, as you do not want to have to repeat courses that you have already studied. There will be a lot of paperwork involved, so allow for plenty of time to get your information together.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself:
- Will you be able to stay away from the comfort of family and friends for the duration of your period of study abroad?
- Gather information about courses that interest you. Look at websites and find out the prerequisites for these courses. Do you meet all of them?
- Will your parents be funding you, or should you apply for scholarships or educational loans? Look for colleges that offer them.
Narrow down your search!
If you are finding the amount of information overwhelming, you can narrow down your search by thinking of the reasons why you wish to study abroad. If it’s to explore a new country, then narrow down the countries where you would like to stay. If it’s to learn a new language, well then, you have your country picked already! Take the help of friends or relatives who may have already gone down this path.
Make the right choices!
The next decision you should make is the specific course and college that you wish to study in. Here, too, you should keep some important aspects in mind.
Some countries, like Germany, are not very English-friendly. You will need to undertake language courses before you decide to study there. If you are not comfortable learning a foreign language then you should not pick these countries.
If you would like to explore a new culture and way of living, and taste some exotic local cuisine, then pick the countries that interest you in this regard. Spain, Scotland, Ireland, Greece, France and other European countries offer a very distinctive lifestyle and culture. There are other countries like the UK and USA where you can get global perspectives on business, healthcare, technology and so on.
Think of whether you would like to live in a city, or in a less populated town where the lifestyle is less hectic and the pace of life is slower. Is the country you are choosing safe for students? Does the society offer enough freedom for you to move around freely? Will you be able to follow your religion without any bias?
All these questions should give you a better idea of what you are looking for. Many students also make their choices based on courses that their friends or family have undertaken, or choose to study in countries where they have people they know.
Next, you should check whether the country you have narrowed down offers the courses or study programs that suit your interests and chosen areas of study. An online search will be able to help you here, or you can take the advice of a trusted Study Abroad counselor. You will be able to check student testimonials, or get in touch with past or present students to find out their personal experiences undertaking the course of your choice at the university that you like.
Each student is different, so make sure that your decision is ultimately your own and is well suited to your talent, experience and interests. Be very clear about your educational and career goals, and keep an open mind while you are at it. You may find that there is a new area of study that would suit you better, so do not hesitate to explore all possibilities.
Good luck, and wishing you all success in your endeavors!