Students have thousands of global programs to choose from which makes choosing the right program a tough decision. Thinking about what’s important to you in a global program can help you decide which one is right for you. Are you solely focused on improving your Mandarin proficiency? Are you interested in learning about environmental sustainability practices in Costa Rica? Considering your academic and professional goals and what you expect to gain out of a global program will help you choose a best fit program.
Academic obligations, accommodation and costs are just some of the more practical factors you’ll want to consider as you research programs. Consult with your study abroad or academic advisor to discuss the program and funding options that are available to you. Browse through Diversity Abroad Article and Resource databases to hear from alumni experiences and check out our Destination Guides to gain insight on social, cultural and political contexts pertaining to your host country. You can also use our website to search for different programs based on your interests. If you have any questions about our resources, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below are some guiding considerations as you begin to choose the right program for you.
Location: Where Should You Study Abroad?
Global programs are offered throughout the world, but how do you decide where to go? Your personality, interests and personal, academic and professional goals will contribute to choosing one location over another. For example, if you want to learn Spanish in a large cosmopolitan environment, Madrid, Spain, may be perfect. For another student learning Spanish, a small town in Peru may be a better fit. It all depends on your preferences.
Many students ultimately choose a program offered by their school due to the ease of transferring credits, the potential to ask faculty questions, and the ability to more readily apply existing financial aid. Should you decide to go through your school, note that this may also limit where you can go, as your options will be limited to the countries offered through your institution. If you are interested in finding a program not offered or partnered with your institution, you may be required to do independent research. Utilize the Diversity Abroad website to search for different programs based on your interests.
No matter what you decide, remember these two rules of thumb:
- No single location will encompass everything you want
- Stay open-minded when choosing a location (and ideally throughout the entire study abroad process!)
Below are some recommended questions you should ask yourself when considering a study abroad location:
- Do I prefer to study in a large metropolitan area, or a small town?
- Am I willing to live in a country where English is not the main language?
- How long can I afford to live in the chosen city?
- Is this a safe location for students?
- What industries are thriving in this location that may prepare me in my future career?
Below are some identity-based questions you may want to ask yourself as you determine a study abroad location:
- What is the attitude towards my (ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, able-bodiedness) in this city?
- If you are a student with a disability, what kind of accommodations and accessibility are available where you're living or studying?
- As an LGBTQ+ student, what is considered appropriate behavior? Are same-sex relationships illegal?
- Is it safe for women to travel alone?
Be sure to learn more by reading the Diversity and Inclusion sections of our Destination Guides to see how your identity may be impacted abroad.
Program Length: How Long Should You Study Abroad?
A global program can last anywhere from 10 days to a year or more, which gives you the flexibility to choose a program that will work for your availability. To help you decide how long you should go abroad, think about these questions:
- How long can I stay abroad without delaying my graduation?
- Will my school allow me to go abroad as a senior?
- How long can I afford (financially) to be abroad?
- How much time am I willing to spend away from my family?
- How much time can I afford to not work?
- What are my on-campus obligations, including school clubs, sports teams, work-study, etc.?
- How long do I need to spend abroad to meet my goals?
Whether you plan to participate in a traditional study abroad program or another global opportunities, make sure you are comfortable with your decision by considering these reflection questions, consult with your advisors to ensure the program meets your graduation plan and discuss with family and loved ones of your choice.
Author: Diversity Abroad Community