Elizabeth Armbrecht is a student at Missouri State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Granada, Spain.
It’s impossible to have all the information about a study abroad trip before you go. However, asking questions of alumni, program staff, and other students in your program is a great starting point. Here are some questions you might not have thought to ask.
- Am I going abroad for the right reasons?
There isn’t necessarily only one right reason to study abroad but there are not-so-right ones. For example, a good reason to study abroad is the desire to intensively learn about another culture, while a bad reason is the desire to get away from family, friends, or an ex. If you make sure beforehand that you’re going for the right reasons, your experience should be positive, giving you great memories for years to come.
- Have I prepared everything I need at home to get ready to study abroad?
As I prepared to study abroad in the fall, I was at home for summer break during most of preparation. As I live far away from my school, it is difficult to keep track of what’s going on at school when I’m on break. Because of this, I missed an important deadline and, as a consequence, didn’t get a scholarship for the trip from my academic department. My suggestion is to not throw your planner away at the end of the school year before studying away and stay on top of those dates. In addition, showing that you’re responsible enough to remember to do things over summer can help convince your parents you’re responsible to study away in the first place.
- What are my goals for studying abroad?
My study abroad office made me fill out this sheet of study away goals before I even started looking at programs and cities and initially I thought it was tedious. I mean, it seemed like busy work and who wants to do that? But now that I’m a couple weeks from landing in my new city, I’m realizing that having my goals prepared beforehand is really helping me focus on the good things about this trip instead of what’s making me nervous. Focusing on the fact that one of my overall goals for this trip is to achieve fluency in Spanish is helps to assuage my fears of not being able to understand/speak it. I’ve convinced myself that I’m there to learn so as long as I’m fluent in the end, who cares if I’m bad at the beginning?
Studying in another country will be an enriching and rewarding experience but being completely prepared for such a change in your life will be a challenge. The best way to feel more confident about living in another country is to ask people who have had the experience before you!
Want to read more about how ISA students have prepared to go abroad? Check out “5 Questions to Ask Before Studying Abroad”