Study Abroad

Studying Abroad: 3 Basic Questions to Ask

It’s easy to be attracted to the idea of studying abroad. If you’re the adventurous type, chances are you’ve already given it some thought. But when it comes down to the fine details of making the experience a reality, you’re likely to come across a large amount of information to sort through. Determining what to consider and where to begin your research can be daunting.ask-Anastasia V

To get you started, here are three common questions prospective study abroad students have. There’s a lot of information to explore, so it might help to jot down any questions you think of for future reference, and to bookmark resources you come across that are particularly relevant to you.

Why study abroad?

Before you do any research, take a step back and ask yourself why you want to study abroad in the first place. Overall, what are you hoping to get out of your travel experience?

Studying abroad can be a lot of fun, but try to identify what deeper motivations you have for embarking on such a journey. There are so many ways you can benefit from studying abroad, both in terms of developing valuable skills that will help you in your future career, as well as building lifelong friendships across the globe. The article below outlines some of these benefits and will help you answer the question of whether or not studying abroad is right for you.

In general, students who study abroad tend to have higher success rates in finding work after graduation and have higher annual salaries than students who do not study abroad. Marketable job skills that you can expect to gain from studying abroad include global-mindedness, independence, and time management.

What about money?

No matter where you are in the planning process, it’s impossible to avoid the question of how you’re going to pay for your adventure. It’s common to feel discouraged and have second thoughts about whether or not studying abroad is a financially wise or even a possible option.

If you do find yourself feeling discouraged, don’t immediately give up or assume that studying abroad is impossible. Know that there are plenty of options for making your dream a reality. It will require your patience, as well as time spent conducting a lot of research, but you’ll be surprised at how much this work can pay off if you are determined. Below are three articles that will help point you in the right direction when you are considering how to subsidize the cost of studying overseas.

There are many ways you can fund your semester abroad, and a little bit of creativity can certainly go a long way in this regard. Apart from searching extensively for scholarship and financial aid options, consider earning extra income through odd side jobs and saving money by cutting back on unnecessary monthly expenses.

Did you know that Americans can now enroll in German colleges and universities with no tuition costs? It may seem like a far-fetched fantasy, but getting a degree for free in Germany is quite possible. If spending an extended period of time in Germany while completing your undergraduate education is something that appeals to you, this is definitely an option worth looking into.

Picking up work teaching English as a foreign language is an excellent and popular way to subsidize the cost of living while studying abroad. Luckily the demand for English teachers around the world is quite high, so earning extra income in this line of work is not necessarily difficult to come by if you have the right qualifications, such as proper TEFL certification.

Even if you’ve already found ways to fund your study abroad program, you should be aware that staying financially organized while in another country will take some research and planning ahead of time. There are many aspects of personal finances to consider before leaving home, such as bank accounts, exchange rates, and cash-handling precautions.

What about language?

Language is a big aspect to take into consideration when deciding where to study abroad. Perhaps you don’t yet have an idea of where you’d like to study, but are wondering which language might be most beneficial to start learning for your career. You may also be drawn to a particular country, but haven’t yet studied its language and are wondering whether you should (even if your classes abroad will be in English). The next two articles will help answer these language-related questions.

You should definitely take your personal interests into account when choosing a foreign language to learn – identify which language(s) are you naturally drawn to. You can also consider factors like global demand for particular languages by looking at number of native speakers or top languages for conducting international business. With these two factors in mind, top contenders for languages you should consider learning include Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, French, Arabic, and Portuguese.

Making a valid attempt to learn and speak the local language where you plan to study abroad can go a long way in terms of deepening the experience you have while you are there. It demonstrates that you have a genuine interest in the local culture and care about integrating with members of the community. Don’t be nervous about your language skills not being perfect – you’ll be surprised at the positive reactions you’ll receive when you at least make an effort to communicate in the local language.

Keep on planning

This may all seem like a lot of information to take in, and chances are you’re asking yourself new questions that you hadn’t thought of before. If you’ve found that there are aspects of studying abroad that you are unsure of, that’s completely okay! Planning a semester or year overseas takes a lot of thought. Take your planning one step at a time, and explore some of the links and resources within these articles. If you have any questions or comments along the way, please feel free to post them below.

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The Author

Dave Harriman

Dave Harriman

Dave Harriman, SHRM-CP, has a background in human resources, anthropology, and international education. His experience teaching English abroad during a gap year as an undergraduate student in Spain ignited his passion and advocacy for student travel. As a human resources professional, Dave is interested in helping students prepare for future career growth, and for helping facilitate social & cultural inclusion in the workplace.