As you read this you may be back on campus ankle deep in the semester, or enrolled in a class or two considering your next step. Whatever your status, now is the time to prepare for your study abroad experience. Last month we explored 4 steps to get you started in the process and here, we’ll explore the next 4 steps.
Attend a Study Abroad Fair
Most campuses will be sprinkled with activity and organizational fairs of all kinds during the first weeks of the semester. Attending the study abroad fair is the simplest thing you could do toward your quest to learn in another country; though, as simple as it is, probably less than 50% of students actually attend the fair.
The study abroad fair is a great way to get to know what your campus offers, who the study abroad staff members are, as well as mingle with other students who may be considering the same things as you. Not only can you gather brochures and materials that outline your options, but you can also ask questions (about courses, country options, financing, etc.) in a pressure-free environment.
If your campus doesn’t hold a study abroad fair (or if you missed it), most have a staff-person/office dedicated to international education with whom you can make an appointment. The office may also have alternatives available for you to consider (internships abroad, volunteering, etc.) It is critical to establish connection with the office early on so that they can keep you in mind when opportunities, scholarships or otherwise, arise.
Study Abroad Checklist
After you’ve met with the study abroad staff on your campus and have done your homework, make a running check-list of what you’ll need to do – yourself – to go abroad. For instance, do you need certain immunizations, a visa (not the credit card), will your health insurance cover you, etc. The list you create is not meant to overwhelm you, rather, help you to be better prepared so that you don’t get left behind.
Paying for Study Abroad $$$$
Cost is usually the top reason that students do not study abroad. Financing study abroad does not need to be prohibitive; many times the tuition you pay now can cover a portion (if not all) of your studies overseas. Though, if you start early, you will find there are a ton of scholarships and grants for you to apply to (i.e. the Institute of International Education offers the Gilman Scholarship.) A full article on financing will be posted soon.
Believe You Can
Believe it or not, one of the most important things you can do to prepare yourself for successful study abroad experience begins with your mind. If you are confident and believe that you can do it, chances are you will. Whether there are financial obstacles, family restrictions or fear of the unknown – the only way to begin to get past that is to make up your mind and believe that you can. Your reality will follow.
Articles by J.Renay Loper, global education professional writer and speaker based in New York City. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or send questions on studying abroad to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make sure Ms. Loper gets your questions.Want more career stuff like this? Subscribe to The HBCU Career Center blog feed Connect on Twitter and Facebook!