With more and more students studying abroad each year, colleges and universities are offering multiple programs in an increasing number of countries. The idea of studying abroad may be appealing, but it can be hard to know what to do with so many things factoring into your decision.
Try to break your decision down into three main areas: academic, financial, and personal. Then, after looking at each of these aspects of your college career, you can be better informed when making a decision.
The main reason you are in college is to get your degree. How will studying abroad influence that goal? For some students, it can greatly aid it; for others, it may present some challenges. If you are a Spanish Literature major, for example, spending a semester in Spain may be a key part of your studies. If you are a Nursing major, however, spending a semester away from any lab classes can really put you in a bind for prerequisites later. At the same time, there may be ways to work around any academic difficulties. If you can't study abroad during the academic year, consider looking into summer programs instead.
Each school handles its study abroad costs in a different way. While sometimes controversial, these policies are meant to protect both you and your institution. Will you pay your home institution's tuition costs, regardless of where you go? Will the price vary depending on your study abroad program? Additionally, try to consider how you'll need to handle managing your money. If you study abroad, you may lose your work award or not be legally allowed to hold a job in your host country.
Studying abroad, while academic in nature, can also be an intensely personal experience. Are you up for the challenge? Will you still succeed if you live far away from your friends and family? Do you have any medical problems that may play a factor? Are you comfortable being a foreigner in another country? Just be honest with yourself about your own personality and what the experience will be like for you on a personal level.
There's no wrong answer when it comes to studying abroad. If you're still unsure or if you're ready to book the next plane out, make sure to go through your campus study abroad office. They are often your best resource before, during, and even after your program.