Studying abroad changed my life, as it will yours. I believe everyone should study abroad while in university. While abroad, you are going to gain your own experience while traveling, one so great you won’t even be able to express it to your friends and family back at home. Do this for you, no one else. You will become independent and culturally diverse, and I promise, you will have the time of your life.
I knew nothing about studying abroad, I did a lot of community college, and I transferred universities several times. One day, I woke up and told myself "I am going to take the steps to study abroad", because why not? The opportunity in my head was only an unrealistic expensive idea to others.
There are many important factors to consider when it comes to studying abroad, which I will be going through in this blog.
What Country to Study in
This is such a hard decision, but most likely whatever decision you make, you will not regret it. Depending on which country you choose to study in and the university you choose, will determine the price you pay. You also need to consider that your options will not be unlimited, they will be based on your area of study and if that country/university can offer that. Some factors you may want to consider when choosing a country to study is:
How far do I want to be away from home?
How expensive is it?
What climate would you like to live in?
Do I want to study in a rural or urban setting?
Is it important that the location is accessible to other countries for weekend getaways?
Is it important the country speaks English?
Does the university have programs for my subject?
Picking a University
There are many university courses and programs that will fit into your current schedule of study. You should make sure that you talk to your university to ensure all academic credits will transfer.
If you want to find some of the top universities then you can quickly Google the top or more well-known universities in a specific area. Check out the program lengths and find out how your current university can help you with financial aid.
After I picked the country I wanted to be in, I picked my university, then that led me to a specific area. I knew I wanted to stay on the Gold Coast, based on climate. Australia only has a handful of universities to choose from, so Bond University it was!
Do Not Overload on Classes
Try to get a class schedule that is flexible, and do NOT overload your schedule. Once you get a few weeks in, you're going to want to travel around the country and go on weekend getaways. So many study abroad students decide to schedule themselves 8:00am and Friday classes, then fail because they miss so many (yeah, happened to me).
On a side note, if you fail a class abroad, it normally does not affect your overall GPA. It won’t even transfer back to your home university. It’s simply a waste of time and money – so don’t do it.
Make sure you know the visa requirements for the country. A lot of study abroad programs will help you out with this. You can find visa information through Travel.State.Gov. My visa to study in Australia was approx. $500 USD. Every country has different requirements and costs, many will be different to the regular tourist visa, make sure you check this before.
Study Abroad Programs
After having gone through the process, I now know you do not have to go through a program, but a study abroad program does take some stress off. They walk you through the visa process, they book you on a group flights, set up your accommodation, handle student health insurance and more. Going through a program, such as the one I went through, TEAN, is an easy way to start your journey off by meeting friends. There were so many added benefits when going through TEAN, but it certainly came at hefty cost which leads me onto the next point, price.
Don't Forget the Price
I will not lie, studying abroad in Australia came at a hefty price of $25,000. This was not a price I could particularly afford at first, but let’s take a few things into consideration:
You should not have to pay for classes/food/accommodation that semester at your home university.
Just like regular student loans, there are loans for studying abroad. Plus, a lot of universities will help with the financial aid part.
I did not take loans for most of my university studies. I went to community college for two years, then I went to an inexpensive state school (GO YSU). Many of my friends were taking $30,000 in loans out per year and getting more and more in debt. Studying abroad was my only loan, thus in my mind I knew I could make this happen.
There are scholarships for studying abroad, you just need to make an effort and apply for them. Do not get discouraged by price, this is a once in a lifetime experience, and I promise if you believe there is a way for you to study abroad, can you do it.
There are ways to cut the cost, such as living in dorms, not going through a program, buying a meal plan, and finding a less expensive university. You will still get the same extraordinary experience if you decide to modify your expenses.
Traveling While Studying Abroad
It is fortunate that Australia is close to so many amazing countries and other beautiful locations. Many universities have programs that allow students to travel SUPER cheap. I went to Bali for a week and the flights, food, and accommodation, were included in the price which was less than $400! Also, in Australia I traveled up north to the Whitsunday Islands, stayed on a catamaran, and had the most memorable experience for approx. $600.
- Learn about the country first before deciding on a location
- Learn some local phrases if you are studying in a non-English country
- Try not to go with friends from home, make new friends where you are
- Join a Facebook group for more info
- Talk to people that have studied abroad before
- Research prices of general items to get an idea of what costs will be
- Take a risk
- Have a bank account that suits overseas use
My one regret is, I only spent four short months in Australia; I wish I had spent a year there instead. Studying abroad opened up so many opportunities for my future even in that short space of time. I met lifelong friends and it changed me personally. I can easily say, studying abroad made me catch the travel bug which has fuelled my adventures for the past 2 years. Now I am addicted to traveling.