There are many factors to take into consideration when choosing a place to study abroad. Some people have known where they want to go since the day they got to college. However, most people have no idea where they want to study. I remember being very overwhelmed at the vast options I had. Australia, Europe, South Africa, South America, etc…they all sounded amazing. If you know you want to study abroad, but you aren’t sure where you want to go, here are some tips to help you narrow down your selection.
Who should you be turning to for help?
The first step I took during the Fall semester of sophomore year was making an appointment with Tulane’s Study Abroad Office. During my first meeting, I told my advisor what ideas I had in mind. I knew that I wanted to go somewhere that I would be able to take Psychology or Communications classes for major credit. I remember leaving the office feeling overwhelmed, especially because my advisor gave me a bunch of different programs and countries to look through. I definitely put in a lot of time looking through each program so keep in mind that it can be a long process.
I highly suggest that you reach out to students who have recently studied abroad. You can speak to students from your classes, from on-campus clubs, or even people in your sorority/fraternity. Asking my sorority sisters about their experiences in their country and if they liked their program was a major factor in helping me decide where to go. The Tulane Study Abroad Office can even help connect you to a student at Tulane who would be willing to talk to you about their experience. There are also study abroad fairs on campus where staff from programs all around the world come to talk to students about the countries they are in. Take advantage of this!
What kind of trip do you want to take?
I remember being very torn between Australia and Europe, especially knowing that both places would give me very different experiences. I decided to choose Europe because I had never been before and I knew that I could travel to many different countries during my time there. It is also fairly easy to get around Europe, and if you plan well, it isn’t too expensive. Keep in mind that it does get cold in many places compared to the beachy warm-weathered environment you’ll find in Australia, South East Asia, and other parts of the world, but it is manageable!
Cost is definitely a big factor when choosing where to study abroad. For example, the cost of living in South America is less expensive than in Europe. In Europe, it is known that certain countries are more expensive than others. For example, Copenhagen is more expensive than Prague.
What do you study?
Some people base their study abroad experience on just the destination and not class credit, and that is totally okay! However, if you decide that you want to focus on getting credit for your major, then you should specifically look into programs that will pair you with a university that will help you fulfill your requirements. One of the main reasons I chose to study abroad in Amsterdam was because the University of Amsterdam is in the top 10 best communication schools in the world and I knew that there would be a variety of classes I could take. My program, CIEE, also offers classes that I can get credit for.
You can also base your destination of choice on enhancing your personal skills and resume. For example, if you speak French and want to improve your French skills, Paris would be a great place to study! You can also look at the add-ons that your program offers. Certain study abroad programs encourage or even require you to have an internship abroad. This can give you a great cross-cultural experience to put on your resume. If you would like to go into the Peace Corps, for example, studying abroad in a less traditional location can make you stand out.
The process of choosing a destination can be difficult, but it is totally worth it and can be fun! Don’t feel pressured to go to the same place that your friends are going, or where your sibling went. You should go somewhere that you feel will give you the best overall experience. No matter where you decide to go abroad, you will have the most amazing time and it will be a life changing experience!
PHOTOS: Talia Berman
COVER GRAPHIC: Vicky Novak