How/Why did I Choose my Program?

Nick Talamantez
Major: Film, Video and Media Studies
Non-WMU: Sol Education, Granada, Spain, Fall 2018

With all of the study abroad programs out there, how did I manage to narrow my choices down to one? A LOT of reading! Man do I hate to glaze over program pages for hours! It was necessary for me though. I had a few specific things that I was looking for, and I was finally able to find it!

Regardless of the institution that you attend, there should be some sort of study abroad program directory. That or google is where you can start your search. The first three things that you should figure out are:

  1. Where do you want to go?
  2. How long do you want to go and when do you want to go?
  3. What kind of courses do you intend to take?

These three will help you narrow down the programs that you are considering.

Where do you want to go?

This should seem pretty obvious. Think about 2 or 3 different countries and also consider that there are usually different cities to choose from with in each country. The city that you may have had in mind may not have the courses that you were looking for, but there may be another city in the same country with just what you need! For me, I wanted to go to Spain, Ecuador, or Chilé.

How long do you want to go and when do you want to go?

Like I mentioned in a previous article (How did I make the decision to study abroad?) there are many different types of programs. Some in the summer, some during semesters, spring break, or just a couple weeks in the winter or summer. You will need to determine what length of time and what time of year feels most appropriate to you. For me, I wanted to go for a year initially, but then decided that I would be more comfortable with a program that ran the entire summer or one whole semester.

What kind of courses do you intend to take?

When it comes to study abroad programs there are many different types of course work that you can set yourself up with for the term. There are “Service Learning” trips, where you volunteer or work in a community to some capacity. There are trips focused on language and/OR culture, emphasis on the culture, because you do not need to be studying a language to consider going abroad. There are programs focused on research. There are also programs that will allow you to justtake your general education requirements, this is a great option for those going into more structured majors. I was looking for intensive language study, which was pretty easy to come by.

Other factors that I considered were price, program opportunities, and the quality of the courses. Although I never want money to feel like a barrier for people wanting to study abroad, I am also going to be smart about where I am throwing  a few G’s. SOL Education Abroad offers cheap programs with awesome benefits! They keep their program costs low by sacrificing the amount of advertising they do. SOL is also well known for going on a large number of excursions and day trips, which means more cultural learning outside of the classroom. Quality courses were also important to me. I have seen many students return from their semesters abroad with their language skills at a level that I would find unsatisfactory for myself. I wanted a program that would push me and that had a reputation for big results. These programs are also opportunities for networking. Choosing a program outside of my university will help me build bonds with students from other countries from all across the world.

If you are thinking about going abroad, this is a good place to start. There are a lot of things to consider when picking a program, but the factors that I mentioned should help narrow down all of the possibilities and help you find a program that fits you. There is always so much to go into on this topic, but I tried to keep it relatively brief. I hope that this article was helpful to you. Once again, if you have any questions, you can always send them in through the contacts page or comment below.

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