Studying abroad in college was something I’ve always wanted to do since high school, but it was only a general idea in my head. I didn’t know where I wanted to go, how long I wanted to stay, or what the application process was even like. So when I got to the University of Rochester, I started doing research here and there in my freshman year, and over the last two and a half years of my college career, I was able to form my own study abroad plan that aligns with both my academic and personal goals.
The first step is to choose the study abroad program. At any stage in your college career, your academic interests can change, and when choosing a study abroad program, it is crucial to find the program that benefits your current academic goals. Take me for example. In my freshman year, I wanted to study in Rome because it seemed like a place filled with rich history, good romance, and uhh… The Lizzie McGuire Movie, a classic that stayed with me through the rough teenage years, took place in Rome.
However, it is important to remember that studying abroad is so much more than just traveling—it’s the opportunity to learn and immerse yourself in a completely different culture. So, to make the most of it, here are some tips:
1. Do your research.
If you’re just starting your research, go to the school study abroad website and browse through the list of programs. There are many different kinds of programs: exchange programs, combined programs, direct-enrollment programs, internships, etc., so it is helpful to learn about different types of programs and choose the best one for you.
2. Take your time.
For me, I chose the Language and Culture Exchange Program in Tokyo because I wanted to study East Asian art history and knew that the program would present me with a lot of opportunities to do just that. If you’re reading this and feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay! It took me two years to figure out exactly what I wanted to do. Talking to my academic advisor, professors, and upperclassmen who have already studied abroad helped me to make the best decision possible.
3. Choose wisely.
Rochester offers over fifty programs in countries ranging from Italy to South Africa; there is such a diversity of programs to choose from, so explore all your options before settling on one because this may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
4. Apply carefully.
After you think you’ve chosen the best program for you, then it is time to apply for the program. Each application process is different depending on the program, so make sure to check the requirements—any language requirement, GPA requirement, and any other necessary requirements for the application, such as recommendation letters or essays.
There is just one last thing to do: Don’t forget to submit by the deadline, and wait for the results!