Check out this Easy Guide to Study Abroad

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Studying abroad may be that defining moment in your education that will change your life. Nothing will be quite the same after you have studied abroad. Your perspectives will be global, your attitudes will be international and you will have memories that you will carry forever. Your resume will be more attractive, in some cases your language proficiency will be advanced, and you will have developed lifelong friendships.
The largest misconception that prevents students from participating in study abroad is its perceived inaccessibility. Students who do study abroad are often amazed at how easy it was to put the whole thing together. Financial aid is often available, every major field of study can partake, and study abroad is an experience available for every student. It’s as easy as a working through a checklist. The following information is just that, it should be used only as a guideline, each university or college has their own study abroad policy.
Why study abroad?
Academic credit – The most obvious reason why students study abroad is to earn academic credit. You should consider the type of credit you will earn on your study abroad program. Will you earn credit towards your major or elective credit only? Will you receive grades or pass/fail credit only? You may study abroad to earn upper division credits in your major field or you may be overseas to earn some of your core or general education hours your freshman year.
Language acquisition – The world market place is shrinking rapidly, many companies require second languages. Foreign languages are not only valuable in the work force they are valuable in the real world.
Practical experience – Study abroad coupled with an international internship is an incredible way to gain some real world experience. Additionally you may find that only an international program can offer the real expertise you desire in your education. Australia is a great place to find a marine biology program, the engineering labs in sweden may exceed your facilities at your home institution, and peace studies in Geneva would offer an insight that couldn’t be matched in Nebraska.
Resume building – International experience is ranked high among many employers as a critical asset for prospective employees. Study abroad shows that you are resourceful, adventurous, internationally minded, and diverse.
Experience of a lifetime – In a couple years you will forget the name of your literature professor in Grenoble or the name of your dorm in Beijing, but you’ll never forget the friends you made or the incredible experiences you shared.
How do I find a program?
Visit your study abroad office! Your first consultation should be with your study abroad coordinator at your campus. Some colleges may have a designated faculty or administrator who performs this function. Other colleges have full-blown study abroad offices with advisors specializing in regional destinations. Chances are your university has the best programs for you. By going on a study abroad program developed at your school, you are more likely to be able to utilize your financial aid and receive credit for the experience. Your study abroad advisor is the most experienced international education counselor for your needs; they can assess your desires and know the limitations or regulations of your college.
If you can’t find the right program on your campus or if your school allows you to participate in external programs then you should conduct an internet search. You can search for programs by country or field of study. Crucial information like cost, description, and program highlights are included. You can also e-mail programs directly for additional info.
Who should I meet with before I go?
Study abroad advisor – She/He can tell you what you need to know and who you need to see. Their job is to make sure you are prepared for your experience and that you will gain the most from your study abroad program. These administrators are often underpaid and overworked, but they remain in this field because of their love or commitment to international education. They probably won’t tell you exactly where to go, its up to you to do the research. They also won’t apply for your passport for you; however, if you can’t figure out how to get a passport you probably shouldn’t be leaving home anyway.
Academic advisor – Many universities provide an academic contract, which is your insurance as to the credit you’ll receive upon return form overseas. Your academic advisor can tell you what type of credit you’re likely to receive and how it will fit into your overall degree.

Financial aid advisor – You will need to work closely with this administrator unless mom and dad will be hooking you up. Most study abroad participants utilize some form of financial aid for their experience. The most common aid used for study abroad is student loans. Some financial aid offices require a vast amount of hoop jumping to insure that you will actually be receiving credit for your experience.
Mom and/or dad – They might not be financing your adventure but its still key to keep them in the loop. You probably want to explain how this experience is integral to your degree program, how the experience will enhance your resume and insure a large job upon graduation. Its also important to keep the old folks happy, as they will probably be taking care of logistical concerns while you are out of the country.
Develop a budget – Consider the in-country costs before you go. You should develop a budget and live by it. Consider the costs of optional excursions, gifts, school supplies, internet access, in-country transportation and general living costs. Many a student, has lost their mind at the night clubs in Athens or Bangkok and have spent their semester budgets their first week abroad.
Learn about your destination – You’re going to experience culture shock, no matter how cool you are, regardless of how diverse you are, and with no regard to your language ability you will have culture shock. One of the ways to have a better experience is to have realistic expectations. Read everything you can about your future home.
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