How to Choose Your Study Abroad Destination

By Tamiera Vandegrift on June 14, 2018

Making the decision to study abroad is one of the most rewarding and life-changing experiences that life has to offer. By studying abroad, you will have the opportunity to escape from your everyday life for a semester, or even an academic year, and immerse yourself in a different world of culture, sights, sounds, and experiences. Studying abroad is an experience that every student should consider undergoing at least once.

Even if your university doesn’t offer study abroad programs on its own, there are plenty of other independent companies that offer students of all ages the chance to travel the world. Some examples of these companies can be found here.

With so many options available with your college and independent companies, how can you decide which study abroad program is best for you and your course of study? There are a plethora of things to consider before you sign up, so keep reading for things to consider before you choose your study abroad destination!

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Have you researched your options?

The first thing you need to do when you decide studying abroad is something you would want to experience is figure out what types of programs and destinations are available to you. Your university might only host a limited number of programs every year and they might be subject to change, so make sure that the study abroad information is updated and accurate before getting your hopes up. Once you narrow down your options based on what your school offers, you can decide whether you would like to spend a semester abroad or an entire academic year. Study abroad destinations tend to vary based on the length of the program itself. If you plan to pursue a program with an independent company, you will have more options at your disposal, but they might also be more expensive.

What type of program are you seeking?

When you hear the term ‘studying abroad’, it’s easy to assume that the only thing to do abroad is take courses toward your major or prerequisite requirements. However, this is not always the case. While you spend time abroad, you could pick up an internship, teach English to younger children or students at your own age level, or immerse yourself in volunteer work. When it comes to studying abroad, not everything has to be about hitting the books, so explore all of the options for activities at the various destinations offered to you. Typically, there are academic courses for biology students and volunteer programs available for students in Costa Rica. Visiting a bustling city like London or China could teach you more about business and boost your resume for a career in the future. Developing countries, such as Thailand and Ghana, are always looking for volunteers to teach children. Different destinations offer different opportunities, so look around and see what would be most beneficial for you.

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How important is language immersion?

It’s a great, big world out there and in this great, big world, language barriers can prove to be a formidable obstacle when studying abroad. So, if you would prefer to avoid the stress of not knowing how to communicate with locals, you might be happier with a study abroad destination that primarily speaks English, such as the United Kingdom. If you are adventurous and hungry for knowledge, you might find that completely immersing yourself in a different culture and language would be worthwhile to you. If you plan to take courses abroad, you can count on those courses being taught in English, but as you explore the city streets and get to know the locals, you might find yourself engaging with a different tongue than you are used to.

What does your ideal destination look like?

Do you prefer the city or the country? Are you happier with your toes in the sand or your boots in the snow? Are the great outdoors calling your name or are you content in an air-conditioned room? Before you decide on studying abroad in a certain location, imagine your ideal destination and research that area extensively. If urban areas make you nervous, you might want to think twice about choosing a large city, like Beijing or Paris. If the country isn’t something you like, you should be careful considering a location like Holland or Ireland. Every study abroad destination has something beautiful to offer, but you must determine which destination would make you the happiest before buying a plane ticket.

When you begin to think about studying abroad, you should definitely consider the questions discussed in this article. Overall, when considering studying abroad, it is crucial to do your homework on the various destinations and programs available to you before making a decision. At the same time, do not be afraid to approach your support systems and your academic counselors for more advice on studying abroad that you might not have considered.

Studying abroad is one of the most wonderful ways to grow and develop emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. It is an experience that will leave an impact on you for years to come and thankfully, with so many options at your fingertips, there is no real wrong answer. So, think long and hard about what you want out of studying abroad and how you want it to impact you as a person. Doing so will lead you to the right destination for you.

Tamiera is an alumna of Florida State University, having earned a BA in Editing, Writing & Media and a BA in Digital Media Production. Tamiera is an aspiring novelist and screenwriter, inspired by the works of Lars von Trier, David Fincher, and Darren Aronofsky. Tamiera has previously written for the FSView and Florida Flambeau, College Magazine, and more. She has recently published a creative thesis containing short stories based on mental illnesses in the media. In the future, Tamiera aspires to win "Best Original Screenplay" or "Best Pictures" at the Academy Awards with one of her film projects. Besides writing and storytelling, Tamiera enjoys cooking, traveling, spending time with friends, and geeking out over movie trivia.

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