As the new semester approaches, students have to make decisions about scheduling, leadership positions and, for some, studying abroad. According to CEA Global Education’s website, “Study abroad programs actively connect you with the host culture, in and out of the classroom, and provide you with a solid foundation of support on which to launch a college experience you will never forget.” Whether you want to travel to Europe, South America, Asia or Australia, studying abroad is a once in a lifetime experience that students claim have changed their lives.
Study abroad deadlines vary, but most schools require students to apply for the Spring 2012 semester program by this September. This July, students should start figuring out where they want to study.
Danielle Weiss, senior criminology major at University of Maryland, chose to study in Prague, a popular hotspot, for the second semester of her junior year. “At first, I didn’t understand why, but after living there for over four months I saw how beautiful the city was. It’s an amazing location and the people are great. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything,” Weiss said.
University Language Services advises students to “consider what you’re looking to gain before you choose a country.” For Weiss, it was important to have fun with her friends while she studied abroad, even if that meant being surrounded by American students.
Other things to consider are a country’s environment, culture and language. Nikki Horvilleur, junior international business major and Spanish minor at Clemson University, spent the second semester of her sophomore year studying in Córdoba, Argentina, perfecting her Spanish. Horvilleur wanted to travel to a low-key place in order to have an authentic experience. She went by herself and says she was “so happy [she] did.” Horvilleur added, “Living in Argentina was an eye-opening experience. I saw the most amazing things, met the most amazing people and now I see the world so differently. I definitely need to go back.”
Students should talk to those who have studied abroad before in order to understand the experience and help make their own decision. Colleges like University of Arkansas have an online database of students who have completed a program and their contact information, making it easy for those interested to reach out and ask questions. There are also other services, like Abroad101, that offer student reviews of sites around the world.
Studying abroad isn’t always an option for every student, but if it is for you, then you should grab the opportunity. College isn’t only about the books, but about embracing new experiences as well. Spending a semester living in another country is an amazing opportunity to gain some of those experiences.