Novancia, Paris, France
Major: Dance Performance
Studying abroad is really thrilling but the process can be overwhelming and tiring. Where do you start? Posts to this page will be based off of my own experiences, but will hopefully be helpful to you. The biggest thing is make sure you have lots of time. Most colleges will close applications a semester or two before your trip so check deadlines so you can be realistic about when you’ll be abroad.
Step 1: Find a Program that Fits
If you want to go for a semester find a program that offers classes that will give you credit in your major or minor. Shorter trips are sometimes offered in the summer and those aren’t always major focused but will give you a taste of studying abroad.
For your Major/Minor: Talk to academic advisors, they’ll be able to point you in the right direction. Your major might have a specific study abroad office, or your university will have a more general one for all majors. Narrow down your options by asking for only the programs that work with your major/minor. Find out from professors and advisors how your credits abroad will transfer, you don’t want it to set you behind a semester or to count towards a class you’ve already taken. Also double check that the classes you will still need when you get back will be offered on the right timeline. For example: some of my classes are preliminaries for other courses and are only offered in the spring term. So, I need to make sure to take those classes next semester, so I can take the next level my senior year.
For a Specific Location: If you’re dying to go to a certain destination and aren’t worried about what courses you’ll take check out what your school offers, but also look at
http://www.ciee.org/study-abroad/ and http://www.iesabroad.org/ I’ve heard of the most success with these websites. These are also great if you want to study a specific language. Just be aware that it might be more difficult to transfer credits and your advisors won’t be able to help you as much with the details of these programs.
For a Gap Year: Studying abroad can be an awesome way to keep learning when you’re not sure what you want your degree in yet. You’ll gain valuable global perspective, knowledge about other cultures, and learn a lot about yourself, which can help guide your degree decision. Check out the two websites I mentioned in the Specific Location section (CIEE has a specific section for gap years!). Also check out VolunteerAlliance.org and AIFSabroad.com Or for a semester at sea (think your old Disney Channel favorite, Suite Life on Deck… with Zach and Cody) GoOverSeas.com. A semester at sea can be really cool because you get to see many different countries and locations! This program lets you earn credits but there may be more out there. I haven’t heard of as many people taking advantage of these organizations so make sure to do your research before signing up.
Look for other resources on campus. I found out about study abroad from Student Organization fairs on campus, students in my classes, Professors who had actually been to the colleges abroad to check them out, and the Office of Study Abroad at WMU (in Ellsworth Hall). Once I started looking I found tons of people and resources available to help me out!
I hope that helps you begin the study abroad process. During this time I was really excited and it didn’t really register that I would actually be going. Have fun researching the locations and talking to other people about their experiences. My most encouraging advice is: I have never met anyone who has regretted studying abroad, but I’ve met lots of people who regret never taking the opportunity.
Be brave, you can do it!