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Before hopping on that plane to the next phase in your education, there are a few things you should consider. Here’s a look at some of the big factors in choosing a study abroad program, that will help you make the most of going to school in another country.

Why Do You Want to Study Abroad?

Understandably, some people want to get out in the world to find themselves, others to learn a new language, participate in a specific academic program, or give back on a life-changing volunteer trip. There are many reasons to study abroad, you’ll just need to do some research in order to determine whether or not your program aligns with your personal and academic goals.

Do You Plan on Travelling from Your Host School?

In many cases, study abroad programs offer some opportunity to travel to other nearby cities or countries, but others, you may be too busy with your studies or simply far from access to transportation. Do your research to get a good sense of what it’ll be like to realistically arrange a day trip or a weekend away from your home base.

How Will the Study Abroad Program Fit in with Your Degree Requirements?

Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of going to Italy and France to take in all the art historical splendor, or want to do an off-the-grid volunteer trip, but have some technological requirements to keep up with your regular studies. It’s wise to talk to an advisor at your high school or college before signing up for a program, as they may be able to help you figure out how to merge all of your interests in a way that’ll pay off academically, while still fulfilling personal goals.

What Do You Hope to Get Out of the Experience?

Everyone has their own reasons for studying abroad. If you’re hoping to do some service work look toward organizations that offer a charitable component in addition to your study. If you’re looking to gain more command of the language you studied in high school or college, you may want to consider taking classes in that language.

Obviously, things like credit requirements will play a major role in your decision, but considering elements that can make your downtime much more enriching could be just as important. For example, attending a London summer school, allows you to get a taste of the city and British culture.

What Do You Know About the Country You’re Planning on Visiting?

Hopefully, you’re looking into study abroad programs in countries you’ve wanted to visit, but even if there’s a lot of unknown on the horizon, you’ll likely want to get a sense of the local customs before hopping on a plane—what do people wear? What kind of food will you be eating, and what neighborhood will you be in? The more you know, the better you can prepare.  If you don’t know the local language and courses in English are limited, you may want to consider looking for a program in England or Australia instead of Spain. On the other hand, if you’re getting pretty good at French, you may get a lot from studying in a French-speaking school in Paris.

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