You’re ready to dip your toes into the study abroad waters, but where to begin? Choosing a study abroad program might be the hardest part of planning your study abroad, but fortunately, we have a lot of experience in that area.
To start, take a listen of our podcast on how to choose your study abroad destination. We not only provide our insight, but tips from our alumni on what helped them make this decision.
If you don’t have time to listen, here are the questions we recommend asking yourself when choosing a study abroad program:
What are my goals for studying abroad?
Are you studying abroad to learn a new language? Fulfill a school requirement? Gain international experience? Travel? Live in a different culture? There are countless reasons that students study abroad, but knowing what your goals are will help narrow your options. For example, if you want to learn a new language, you’ll want to consider a program with an intensive language track. If you’re looking to dive into a completely new culture, you may be drawn to some of our more rustic programs, like South America, versus the traditional European programs.
Do I want to focus on language learning or would I prefer to study in an English-speaking country?
It’s common to think study abroad = language learning, but this isn’t always the case. USAC has nine programs in English-speaking countries, including Australia, England, Ireland, and New Zealand. However, in every single program, there are classes that are taught in English. We also have a ton of unique classes that you can take abroad to fit nearly any focus of study. If you are studying abroad for language learning, this document will tell you all of the USAC language program options available.
Is there an ideal time for me to study abroad?
Depending on your school schedule, graduation plans, financial situation, and personal plans, there is most likely a timeframe that works best for you to go abroad. USAC offers programs over the summer, semester, yearlong and a short January session, in order to allow students to study abroad whenever works best for them.
Would I prefer to live in an urban or rural environment? Big city or small town?
With more than 50 programs, there are a plethora of options when it comes to selecting the environment. When I was planning my study abroad, I chose to study in Madrid (versus the other Spain locations) because it was a big city and I had grown up in a small town. I also grew up near the beach so I didn’t feel the urge to be near the ocean. Determining the type of climate and activities you want to have during your time abroad can help narrow down the options.
Am I more interested in traditional (i.e. Western Europe or Australia/New Zealand) or non-traditional locations (i.e. Asia, Africa, Latin America)?
USAC is known for offering programs in lesser known areas of a country. That’s why you’ll find locations in unique spots like Florianópolis, Brazil; Puntarenas, Heredia, and San Ramón, Costa Rica; Montevideo, Uruguay; Bangalore, India; Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen, Thailand and a ton of other locations. We encourage you to explore a variety of destinations before making your selection. Many times similar classes are offered in a variety of locations.
In addition to finding a program that is the right fit for you, it is important that you consult with your study abroad and academic advisors. They will be able to advise you about any specific on-campus requirements you might have and can help answer some of the academic questions you might be pondering.
Now that we’ve got your brain churning over these questions, take a few minutes to take our quiz! Answer 10 quick questions about your study and travel personality and we’ll suggest great USAC programs for you!