How to Decide Where to Study Abroad

Studying abroad can be one of the best experiences you have while in college. Taking in the arts and culture of a new country and expanding your world view all while earning college credit is the perfect way to spend a semester. After making the decision to study abroad, the next, and most important, choice to make is where. As there are a lot of factors to consider when picking your location, this decision can be difficult to make. Here are some tips to help you make it a little easier.

It’s All About Deciding on a Location
One of the most crucial deciding factors when choosing to study abroad is the location. When deciding between different programs of study abroad, look at not only the countries, but the region and atmosphere. Choose a program that is both in the country you’re interested in and a region you think you’ll be happy in. Pay attention to the location of the college you will be attending, whether it’s in a city or a rural area, and what the climate will be like when you plan on attending.

Be Aware of Language Barriers
When choosing a country to spend time in, be sure to factor in the language. Moving to a new city and taking classes at a new school is hard enough, being unable to understand the language may be overwhelming. As you’re deciding where to travel to, seriously think about the reality of living in a place where you don’t understand the language and if that’s a challenge you are ready for. If not, consider traveling to an English-speaking country or taking language courses before traveling.

Check Out the Program
Often times when you study abroad it won’t be directly through your university. If you don’t have the luxury of traveling through your own university, you may have to go through an outside company who links you with foreign universities to study abroad. Whatever method you use to study abroad, take a hard look at the fine print of the program. Find out how many courses you will be expected to take and how many credits will transfer to your home university, as this may help you decide if the program is right for you. Also, determine if your study abroad classes will be considered legitimate and whether or not your credits will need to be evaluated as part of an equivalency degree.

Weigh the Cost
While the experience of studying abroad is a priceless adventure, it does come with a high cost. Before even deciding to study abroad, take a look at your personal finances and see what you can afford to spend. This will help you choose a program that fits realistically with your budget helping you enjoy your travels without worrying about the cost.

There is no doubt about it, studying abroad is going to change your life. The new experiences, challenges, friends and culture you will take away from your semester abroad will stay with you forever and impact your life and future decisions. Though deciding where to go may be tough, thoroughly considering every angle and factor that goes into choosing a study abroad location will help you make your choice easier and ensure that you enjoy the experience to the fullest.

Adrienne is a freelance writer and designer who spent a semester studying abroad in Paris and loved it! Get in touch by following @adrienneerin on Twitter, or check out her design blog.

Are you going to study abroad? Let us know in the comments. Try deciding using the weighted decision matrix.

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