11 Common Questions About Study Abroad

By Alexandra Brown on March 12, 2016

A huge part of the college experience for college students is having the opportunity to study abroad.

For those who do have the opportunity to study abroad, it is highly recommended. But of course, before any student begins applying to programs, planning for them or even considering study abroad at all, they’re going to have a lot of questions regarding the whole process and what it truly means to study abroad.

Here is a list of 11 common questions about study abroad.

1. What even is study abroad?

Let’s start with the basics. Students have heard the term “study abroad” thrown around, but they don’t all necessarily understand what exactly it entails.

Study abroad is a term that refers to a college student completing coursework for their university, at another university from which they are not actually receiving their degree, for a specific amount of time. This could mean they choose to complete coursework at a university abroad in another country, or another university or college nationally.

2. Am I eligible?

Each specific college or university has specific criteria for who is eligible to participate in their study abroad programs. Usually these criteria focus on GPA, major, financial aid, completing an application and being accepted into a program, etc. For information on if you’re eligible, refer to your university’s study abroad webpage.


3. What if I want to study abroad in a specific country but I don’t speak the language?

You’ll want to do research on the specific program you’re interested in. A lot of times, universities offer courses for credit all taught in English, so you’ll need to keep that in mind when searching for a program that best suits you.

4. Will I need a passport/visa to study abroad?

This depends on how long you’re staying. If you are traveling out of the country, you’ll need a passport. If you’re staying for an extended amount of time lasting more than four months, you may need to apply for a student visa. Refer to your university’s study abroad webpage.

5. What if I don’t want to live with a host family?

If you’d rather stay in dorms or another form of housing, you’ll need to research the different programs your school offers to find one that offers a wide array of housing options, and not just host families.

6. Will my credits that I earn abroad transfer?

This is a very important question. You don’t want to spend an entire semester abroad taking classes just to learn that they won’t contribute to your degree. This must be carefully researched before you leave. Talk to academic advisors, refer to your university’s study abroad webpage and make sure you’ve covered all the bases regarding transfer credits abroad.


7. Is it even worth it?

Yes. Study abroad is an incredible experience, no matter where you go. You learn about other cultures, about yourself, you meet new people, and you learn independence. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. When will you again have the chance to study with other students your age in a foreign country?

8. Is it expensive?

A popular belief is that study abroad can be very expensive. This is not always the case, however. It’s actually quite common for a semester abroad to cost less than a normal semester at your home university. You should research your program, and compare all the costs to those of a normal semester at your home university. Financial aid and other forms of loans are also available.

9. Will I still be able to graduate on time?

Of course, as long as you plan accordingly. This entails talking to your academic advisor and planning which courses you will need to take on campus, and abroad, to graduate, strategically, so nothing gets left out when it comes time for your last semester before graduation. It is advisable to study abroad in earlier, rather than later semesters, however, to avoid last minute problems with credits.

10. How long can I study abroad?

The time length for your time abroad is program-dependent. Universities offer shorter programs for breaks like winter break and spring break, but they can also offer semester-long programs (over four months) for students who wish to take an entire semester abroad. This all depends on what is right for the student.


11. What challenges should I expect to face?

The biggest change for a student studying abroad is culture shock. They are in a completely different environment than what they’ve always known, so it takes some time to get appropriately acclimated. But again, this is all part of the experience, and will undoubtedly serve you well in the long run.

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