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What is Studying Abroad?

Each year the number of students participating in study abroad programs has been increasing. In the United States there are a couple hundred thousand students who choose to take the plunge into studying abroad each year. Conversely, there are over half a million international students who choose to come to study abroad in the United States each year. These students come from all walks of life and are interested in a wide variety of majors.

What is studying abroad?

Although different universities in the United States have their own unique requirements, the definition of studying abroad remains the same. Studying abroad is an arrangement in which students can complete a portion of their degree by engaging in educational activities outside of the United States. The activities can include a combination of experiences such as classroom study, research, internships, and service learning.

Who is allowed to study abroad?

Each university is different in how they handle their respective study abroad programs. Most often a university will place GPA restrictions on students or even have pre-requisites in place for studying abroad. For the majority of universities, however, there are no restrictions on which students can study abroad. Students from a wide variety of majors (not just language majors) decide that they want to study abroad.

What are some things you will need in order to study abroad?

The specifics will vary from school to school, but the list below includes some of the steps you’ll need to take to get into a study abroad program as well as some items you’ll need to take with you abroad.

Fill out an application at your university.
Make sure you meet with a campus representative for the study abroad program you’re interested in. Fill out an application and ensure that you maintain the required GPA for travel.

Get a passport.
You’ll need a passport in order to travel internationally. If you don’t already have one that is valid for at least six months after your return date, make sure to get one. It can take up to six weeks for your passport application to be processed so DO NOT wait until the last minute to take care of it. Check out the U.S. Department of State website here to get more information about renewing or applying for a passport.

Make sure your course credits will transfer.
Ask the campus representative or advisor about how to ensure your courses taken abroad will transfer to your home campus. Although you’d still have incredible memories, you wouldn’t want to study abroad and then have the course credit not count towards your degree back home.

Bring a map or atlas.
Besides wanting to know where you are for safety purposes, you’ll want to bring a local and regional map along with you for exploring. You can mark down places you went or make notes about places you want to visit at some point during your stay.

Talk with students who’ve already done the program.
Nothing compares to firsthand experience. Talking to a student who has already completed the study abroad program you’re applying to will allow you an inside look to what your experience might be like. You can ask about favorite restaurants or spots in the city, what they liked best and worst about the program, and what they would do differently if they studied abroad again. Any information you can get will be beneficial in helping you to know what to expect.

Hopefully this article was helpful for you as you look for more information about studying abroad. While this article focused on giving you general information about what studying abroad is and what you might need, the rest of the articles in the series will focus on other aspects of the process. Do you need help deciding on what program to choose? Are you nervous about what to expect? Are you looking to maximize your experience abroad? Check back for our additional articles in the series and get all of your questions answered!

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