International Education Week (IEW) is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education, and there are a million reasons to celebrate USAC study abroad. To make it easy, we’ve compiled some of our favorite things about study abroad into a familiar format: the good ol’ ABCs.
A – Academics
Of course, it wouldn’t be study abroad without our expansive list of areas of study you can dedicate your time abroad to. USAC has a program for every major, and students abroad are able to earn academic credit and expand their knowledge through courses, field trips, and optional tours.
B – Budgeting
Getting (and keeping) your finances in order is a big must for study abroad. Fortunately, we have resources to help you budget for your program, including our Interactive Budget Sheets. Play around with this sample budget sheet for our program in Florianópolis, Brazil to get an idea of how these budget sheets work.
C – Cuisine
Ah, food. Cuisine is arguably one of the best parts about exploring a new location, and study abroad gives you the chance to discover many new cuisines and even learn how to cook your favorites. Whether you fall in love with croissants in France or Xiaolongbao in China, you’ll be dreaming of your host country’s cuisine for the rest of your life.
D – Degrees
Study abroad is, without a doubt, one of the most fun ways to earn your degree. USAC programs are designed to help you earn legitimate credits that count towards your degree and get you closer to graduation, so you don’t have to worry about falling behind in your academic plan.
E – Escaping the Ordinary
If you’re looking to break out of your daily routine and experience something new, study abroad is the perfect way to do so. You’ll meet new people, see historical sites, taste new foods, and learn a new language — no day will feel “normal” or “ordinary!”
F – Friends
Ask any alumni, one of the best parts of study abroad is the friends you make during your time abroad. Many USAC alumni credit their favorite memories from abroad to the friendships they made. The connections you form with your roommates, students in your USAC cohort, and locals will not only make your study abroad experience unforgettable but they will also follow you home.
G – Global Perspective
Whether you’re studying abroad in person or participating in a virtual internship, one of the main benefits of international education is to gain a deeper understanding of the world. Through study abroad, students can gain a global perspective by immersing themselves in a new culture, embracing local traditions, and meeting people from different backgrounds. Overall, gaining a global perspective will help you become an open-minded, compassionate, global citizen.
H – Homestays
Depending on the USAC program you choose, you may have the opportunity to live with a local family. Opting for a homestay can immerse you in your host culture even further by exposing you to the customs and traditions of the local people and can provide an opportunity to practice the local language. On top of that, living in a homestay can expose you to the ins and outs of your host city and give you the inside scoop on restaurants, cafes, and more off the tourist path.
I – Internships
One major benefit of international education is the boost it provides to your resume. While study abroad itself will help you earn credits towards your degree, help you grow as an individual, and help you stand out to future employers, you can take it a step further by participating in an internship. Whether virtually or in-person, USAC internships offer students the chance to learn and work beside professionals in their field of choice, giving you real-world job experience while furthering your cultural immersion.
J – Job skills
By participating in an internship you will inevitably gain valuable job experience that will directly translate to your future career. However, living abroad can also teach you soft skills that will be valuable for work in any field. These soft skills, such as interpersonal communication, time management, and confidence, are useful regardless of what professional field you choose. And employers value international education experience when seeking employees, so you should definitely add study abroad to your resume!
K – Keepsakes
No matter where you study abroad or what you choose to do while you are there, you’re bound to return home with some souvenirs of your travels. For some, these keepsakes include more traditional souvenirs, including postcards, magnets, or keychains. For others, their memorabilia is more personal, such as journals, photos, or a personal vlog. Either way, you’re bound to come home with some special items to commemorate your study abroad experience.
L – Language
Did you know that USAC offers the opportunity for students to study more than 20 languages? And on top of that, you can earn up to two semesters’ worth of language credits in just one semester abroad on many USAC programs. Study abroad is the best way to learn a second language, and many of our programs are structured to provide students with the opportunity to strengthen their language skills regardless of proficiency when they enroll.
M – Meeting Locals
You can’t study abroad without interacting with locals! Whether you opt for a homestay, participate in an internship, or just befriend the barista at your local cafe, you’re bound to meet with a few locals during your time abroad. This interaction will give you the chance to practice the local language, learn more about the culture, and hopefully leave you with a friend or two.
N – Non-Traditional Locations
Here at USAC, we pride ourselves on offering authentic study abroad programs in locations off the beaten tourist path. We know that non-traditional, lesser-known locations typically offer a deeper immersive experience that you likely wouldn’t get in a touristy city. If you’re looking to dig deep and truly immerse in your host culture, opt for a spot that you won’t find on a travel blog.
O – Opening Doors
International education will provide opportunities for networking and can open doors to experiences, professional and personal, that you never expected. While you’re abroad, be sure to keep open an open mind and network as much as you can. You’ll be surprised at how the connections you make with your professors, Resident Directors, friends, and locals impact your future.
P – Passport Stamps
Of course, study abroad comes with the chance to explore your country and surrounding areas. While we highly encourage you to immerse yourself in your host city, we know that the call to add some stamps to your passport is strong. Checking some locations off of your travel bucket list is a major benefit of study abroad.
Q – Quest
No matter where you go, you should set some goals for your study abroad experience. Whether you’re on a quest for cultural immersion, to connect with your heritage, to learn a second language, or something else, study abroad is the perfect opportunity to meet your goals. Before you leave, do some self-reflection and set goals for yourself to accomplish during your time abroad. Going in with a plan will help you stay focused on your quest to do whatever it is that you set out to do.
R – Reverse Culture Shock
The sad news is that all study abroad journeys must come to an end, and your return home will likely introduce reverse culture shock. After spending time in your host country and immersing in your host culture, the norms and traditions that you used to find comfort in at home might feel foreign or even wrong. Study up on the impact of reverse culture shock and give yourself the time and space to settle in back home. Embrace the challenge — it’s a sign that you really connected with your host culture!
S – Scholarships
Did you know that USAC offers scholarships and discounts for all of our programs? We strive to make international education affordable and accessible for students of all backgrounds, and our scholarships are a part of that mission. We offer scholarships for all programs for a range of student demographics, including area of study, diversity, location, and more. Our Money Matters page has everything you need to know about scholarships and how to financially prepare for study abroad.
T – Traditions
One exciting part about study abroad is learning about and participating in local traditions. From common greetings, such as bowing on kissing on the cheek to holiday celebrations, including Lunar New Year, you will have the opportunity to absorb unique traditions of your host country and adopt them into your daily life abroad. Chances are that you’ll even incorporate them into your life back home!
U – Unique Experiences
If nothing else, study abroad is just different. It’s no secret that we are all attracted to life abroad because it provides us with unique experiences that we’d never be presented with back home. How often are you able to spend a weekend trekking through the wilderness in Thailand, surfing in Costa Rica, or judging a local film festival in Italy? We’re guessing not very often, especially not with your home university in the U.S. One of the best parts of study abroad is being able to do things you could never do back home, earning you some major bragging rights as a souvenir.
V – Volunteering
We encourage all USAC students to give back to their host countries in one way or another, and we offer volunteering opportunities on many of our programs. If you’re looking to say “thank you” to your community while making friends, practicing your language, and getting involved in some extracurriculars, consider volunteering on a project or with an organization to accomplish those goals. In some cases, you can even earn academic credit for volunteering. Opportunities vary by program, but many volunteer options require little to no language skills or previous experience, so there is something for everyone.
W – Wanderlust
Warning: international education of any kind will likely result in a heightened sense of wanderlust. There is just something about experiencing life in a new place that ignites a desire to keep making those experiences happen. Many USAC alumni will tell you that their study abroad program was their first time abroad but definitely won’t be their last, and we’re willing to bet that you’ll feel the same.
X – eXtracurricular Activities
One of the best ways to meet locals and immerse in student life is to be active on your host campus. Join campus clubs, sign up for intramural sports, and add electives to your course load. These are all great ways to get involved with the student population, meet locals, practice your language, and learn more about your host culture. Plus, it’s another way to experience something unique that you likely wouldn’t be involved with back home.
Y – You
Study abroad is the perfect time to be a little bit selfish. Go where you want to go, participate in activities that grow your skillset, and take courses that help you reach your academic goals. Make your international education experience all about you and get as much out of your program as you can!
Z – Zero Regrets
By making your study abroad experience everything you want it to be, you should strive to head home with zero regrets. Taking advantage of all the features your program has to offer, achieving the goals you set for yourself, and checking some special items off your bucket list are sure-fire ways to make sure you have an unforgettable study abroad.