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Studying Abroad – Advantages, Available Programs, and Useful Tips

Globalization influences all spheres of our lives, and education is not an exception. A lot of young people decide to go and study abroad, and if you are still feeling your way, this article will help you to analyze all the benefits of foreign education and programs that can be chosen by the Americans.

What do students gain from studying abroad

When we talk about going to study in a different country, most people think of traveling and discovering new places of interest. This is absolutely true – living abroad is a fascinating opportunity to get to know the country you have moved to and plunge into its history and culture. Even if you are visiting a state which is very similar to the US in terms of climate or mentality, you will still find a huge number of national differences that are likely to broaden your mind and change your worldview.

Sure enough, studying abroad cannot be imagined without learning a new language. Of course, there is an abundance of linguistic schools in the US but learning a foreign language in a country where it is spoken is a far more thrilling and useful experience. This is why a lot of countries like Italy, Spain, Germany, etc. offer various language courses of varying duration for students of all ages.

Another great advantage when studying abroad is vast career opportunities. According to a survey conducted by the Institute for International Education of Students (IES), three-quarters of American students acquired unique skill sets that helped them to get more high-paid jobs and develop their careers in a faster and less stressful way. Indeed, international education is a crucial CV line for many employers, since such candidates are known to be more skillful, open-minded, and motivated.

If we analyze studying abroad for young people of the age of 18 or so, then another considerable benefit arises – opportunity to learn how to leave alone. In the same IES survey, 95% of the respondents said that living abroad proved to be a catalyst for their increased maturity. Being left on their own, young people acquire necessary household skills, get used to taking care of themselves, and even improve their budgeting skills. Moreover, when living with a roommate, youngsters also learn to be more patient and share the same living space with someone else without destroying the whole place right away.

Finally, studying abroad means you can meet new friends and establish new contacts. The majority of international students keep in touch with their foreign acquaintances even when they come back home, while some young people even find true friendships that will last for many years. The luckiest ones meet the love of their life when studying abroad, and this is where a short educational trip turns into a life-changing experience.

What study abroad program to choose?

Contemporary universities and educational centers offer a great number of various educational programs. They can be conditionally divided into the following groups:

  • Short-term programs. These are usually summer or winter language courses that last not more than 3 months. Such programs present a nice price-quality ratio – you will be able to study a language, go to guided tours, enjoy local life, and socialize with other foreigners without investing a huge sum of money. Besides, short-term courses often give an opportunity to get a language certificate or prepare for an international language exam.
  • Half-year programs. Here we talk mainly about university exchange programs. An American and a foreign university select a number of their students and send them to each other for educational and cultural exchange. Students have to attend regular classes and pass exams at the end of the semester. Such trips are often credited as foreign internships, which is an important benefit for those who want to work abroad after graduation.
  • International higher education. If you are smart and brave enough to go to study abroad for 2 or 3 years, then you may opt for a bachelor or a master’s program with one of the foreign universities. These are fully-fledged educational programs which terminate with getting an internationally recognized higher education degree. Such a diploma, coupled with a good command of a foreign language, will enable you to stay and work in the country or come back to the US, but with better career perspective anyway.

There are many other international educational projects, including world-famous ones such as Erasmus. Italian and other universities offer scholarships for studying abroad, so you may get such an opportunity as a reward for presenting, say, an important scientific project. Numerous thematic courses are also available – from cooking classes to fashion design programs. And, of course, many Americans choose high-level business educational programs in Europe, such as MBA, etc.

Available programs and some useful information can be found at ISA website and other web sources, as well as on the web pages of almost all foreign universities. Visit also the international education center in your school – there you will probably find a good program, and your alma-mater will take care of main organizational issues.

How to enroll at a foreign educational program

The enrollment procedure depends hugely on the program and the country you have chosen. Short-term language courses usually merely taking a language test only, but even this requirement can be missing. Sometimes students are invited to take some entry test upon their arrival to the country so that they could be divided into groups basing on their level of knowledge.

  • Half-year programs are typically offered to students with high grades and good academic background. A decent command of the exchange country’s language would be an advantage, though sometimes such programs combine regular university classes with intensive language courses.
  • Long-term educational programs are the most difficult to enroll at. They involve passing a number of exams, taking a language test, and writing a motivation letter. Like in the US, such programs start selecting students many months before classes actually begin and have very strict admission deadlines.

Ready, steady, go!

Apart from exams and tests, there are a number of technical issues to solve before packing your suitcases. First of all, studying abroad implies getting a visa and, sometimes, a permit of stay. Student visas typically do not allow to work (South Korea is one of the few exceptions), so you should have enough financial means for the whole period of studies. It is recommended to prepare a folder with all the necessary documents, including excerpts with your academic grades, a copy of your ID card, etc.

Other tasks include:

  • Finding a place to live. If you are going to study with a friend, then you can share an apartment, otherwise, a student dormitory would be a good alternative. Language schools often provide staying in a local family, which is excellent in terms of language practice and cultural exchange.
  • Doing homework. If you already know which subjects you are going to study, consider reading some thematic course books beforehand. This will help you to start the academic process more comfortable and ensure you do not fall behind your classmates right in the beginning of the course.
  • Checking your wardrobe. Moving to an exotic country or, the other way round, to a cold Northern state, implies packing an adequate set of clothes. Find more about the climate of the country you are moving to, and you will retain good health whatever your future destination is.

You now know what studying abroad teaches you and how to organize this process better. Anyway, if you are determined to pursue your dream, then there could be very few obstacles. Choose the best program, get ready for the departure – and studying abroad will become a great experience for you and a chance to live a more exciting and active life!

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