I remember the first time I ever considered traveling abroad to study. I was a junior in high school and the prospect seemed more like an off-handed wish than anything else; I wouldn’t have even called it a dream. The opportunity to spend months away from family and friends all the while gaining new experiences and learning more about myself felt so far out of my reach. I realize now there were several aspects that threatened to steal this unbelievably amazing opportunity away from me. Here are just a few of those scary, “am I actually going to be able to do this” scenarios, and the coinciding reasons why nothing should deter any future students from taking on an endeavor like study abroad.
1. How am I supposed to choose between 7 continents, 197 countries, 6,000 languages, and countless culturally rich communities? Anyone with an unquenchable thirst to travel could tell how, but what are your interests? Hiking, religion and even dancing could sway you toward certain destinations. What are you passionate about? Historic ruins varying from Aztec temples to European castles could have a say as well. Are you interested in picking up a different language, or is the opposite the case? Each of these questions are worth your thoughts and consideration.
2. How can I be sure that this destination will have a university with the courses I need? Universities often have study abroad agencies that they affiliate with, as was the case with my university and ISA. Talking to an adviser is the best way to start, but websites like that of International Studies Abroad make it easy. From highlighting specific differences and distinct attributes that each place offers to the classes and areas of study available, these types of websites make selecting a destination feel like a dream. Honestly, they spoil us.
3. Why was that Pre-Departure meeting so terrifying? Yes, it is important to be aware of safety measures, but please don’t focus purely on those aspects. They are meant to prepare you, not to scare you.
4. How will I afford this? It’s an overwhelming question and it may be the one thing that stops you from pursuing your dream. When students are confronted with prices, they often run the other way, or at least that’s what I was about to do. However, it’s important to remember that scholarships, especially for studying abroad, are readily available. Aside from that, there are often several other great features that may be included with any given program. That being said, make sure to read up on included excursions, on-site tutoring and assistance, and even internships that you a program has to offer.
5. What am I waiting for? Start your search to study abroad now. In four months you could be exploring a castle in France, sailing along the Mediterranean of the coast of Spain, hiking a mountain in New Zealand, riding a camel in Morocco, and still finding time to study. Don’t wait. Apply now, and you won’t regret it. You might even end up in a place as beautiful as Valencia, Spain.