A lot of things are uncertain right now, but one thing that’s for sure is that study abroad will return. And when you’re ready to stamp your passport, we’ll be ready. With the extra downtime you have between taking your online courses and baking banana bread now is the perfect time to start planning your study abroad. Here’s how you can begin preparing for your study abroad summer, semester, or yearlong adventure – right from your couch.
Start With The Basics – Get Your Passport
There are a few things every traveller must do, regardless of program length or location. This includes applying for or renewing your passport. An adult U.S. passport is valid for 10 years, so there is no reason to wait to get yours. If you have any hunch that you want to study abroad, apply now! This can save you headache and stress in the future in case there are any delays or issues with your application. Ask a USAC Program Advisor about other travel documents and items you can start checking off your list now.
Research Programs and Terms Offered
Did you know that USAC offers programs in more than 25 countries? But that’s not all – we also offer many of our programs in both short- and long-term formats from three-week January terms to a full academic year, including virtual opportunities to jumpstart your international education from home. There are benefits to all program models, so ask yourself what fits best into your academic plan and general lifestyle. If you’re short on time, a summer program is a great way to squeeze in all the benefits of a semester or yearlong program. Beyond program length, consider the type of environment you want to live in, if you need to knock off some foreign language credits, and what type of activities you want to participate in – such as internships, field trips, and volunteering opportunities. You can always take our personality quiz to find our recommendations!
Map Out Classes and Credits
One potential hurdle students encounter when planning their study abroad is courses. Many students – especially STEM majors – think that they won’t be able to take the courses they need abroad. But that’s not the case! USAC offers courses for just about every major from business to nursing. If you’re starting early and plan to complete most of your gen-ed courses abroad, that’s great! If you’re further along in your degree, start by understanding what credits/courses you need to graduate and learn where you can complete those requirements. Use the program search tool on our website to filter programs by area of study to get started, but we also recommend reaching out to your academic advisor to create a solid plan.
Research Your Home University’s Study Abroad Requirements
While USAC works closely with universities all over the country, some schools have their own set of requirements students must meet to study abroad. These can include home university applications, required credits taken, what year you can study abroad, and more. Be sure to speak to your school’s study abroad office and your academic advisor about any additional requirements before diving into your USAC application. Then map out exactly what you need to do and when; creating a timeline along with your to-do list will keep you on track.
Explore Scholarships and Budgeting Options
Study abroad can be expensive, which is why USAC not only focuses on providing affordable program options, we also offer a bunch of scholarships and discounts for all of our programs. Now is a great time to explore your funding options and understand all the ways you can pay for study abroad. Not only does USAC offer our own scholarships, but we also accept external scholarships like the Gilman Scholarship and accept financial aid, so you have a lot of options. On top of knowing your scholarship options, it’s important to have an idea of what study abroad will cost and to begin budgeting and saving now. It’s never too early to start putting some money aside for your study abroad expenses! On the USAC website under each program, you’ll find an interactive budget sheet customized per program to help you determine how much a semester abroad will cost. These are located under the Fees & Deadlines tab.
Seek Out Alumni to Learn More
One of our biggest tips for preparing to study abroad is to speak to a USAC alumni. Whether you’re bursting with questions about budgeting, travel, or must-visit restaurants in your chosen host city, alumni are here to help! In addition, USAC alumni are great sounding boards for any concerns or worries you might be feeling about heading abroad because they’ve been through it. Contact our Alumni Team (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Program Advisor to get in touch with alumni from your program.
We know that international travel might feel out of reach right now but using this time to develop your plans will give you something to look forward to (not to mention, it will make things a lot easier in the long run). Keep the excitement alive by getting your daily dose of USAC inspiration. Sign up for our email list to receive information on upcoming deadlines, scholarships, and more; follow us on social media (we’re @studyabroadusac on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube) for behind-the-scenes look at student life abroad and details on USAC programs; and subscribe to our blog to read student stories and alumni tips.
Feeling ready? The first step is to visit our website to explore programs, so click here to start planning your future with USAC!