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How to go about Studying Abroad

So you want to study abroad? Here’s my short guide (tips) for getting it done (and doing it right).

There are many types of programs for many different countries from Canada to the Netherlands to Africa. It’s a great part of the college experience and one I definitely think everyone should try to take advantage of, whether only for the experience or for resumé or whatever your means. Financial aid is available and studying abroad can be affordable. I’m currently studying in Hong Kong for the year and so far, my journey has been amazing.

1. How to apply?

Talk to your study abroad office. You usually have to meet with an adviser to discuss your options. Gather information on the countries you’re interested in get feedback. For example, some schools are tougher than other schools. this may be in competitiveness to get in or academically. Find out whether your school offers any type academic assistance such as grade boosts when you return or the pass/fail option.

Fill out your applications (there’s usually a couple short essays and a personal statement) and get your transcripts and letters of recommendations in. It’s helpful to be organized. You’ll also need a medical exam.

NOTE: Make sure you meet all language requirements for the country/program you’ve chosen if there is one.

2. When do you want to go?

There is a program available, no matter what year you’re in. Whether it’s right for you, however, is a different question.

For example, the UC EAP program offers a particular language program in Germany available ONLY to freshman and most programs require you to be juniors or seniors (although some like Japan take sophomores).
It’s important to know when you want to go because applications take awhile to fill and complete (the process can be up to 6 months). You also have to know whether there are language requirements of other prerequisites for the program.

3. Where do you want to go?

Choosing a country is important. You’re are either going to choose a language/immersion program or you’re going to choose a more field specific program. Regardless, location is important. Using Hong Kong, Vallendar (Germany), and California as examples, here are some things to take into consideration when choosing a country and school:

-availability of transportation:

Hong Kong has a great system that runs almost 24 hours (buses, taxis, trains). California is huge, we all know that cars are necessary unless you live in San Francisco or some maybe downtown LA. Waiting for the bus? It might be awhile.

-location of the school:

Hong Kong is a major busy city with a vibrant night life. Everything is accessible.
Vallendar is a small town and at least 20 minutes to a big city (it’s small enough you see everyone everyday).
California? Depends on where you are. Most places close around between 9-11 PM. Can be quite drab in certain areas.

-whether other exchange students there tend to do semester or year programs:

Many schools (especially European) tend to allow their students studying abroad only one semester in any particular country. It would definitely suck if you decided to stay the year and everyone you met leaves half way. On the other hand, most students who only stay a semester wish they have the opportunity to extend their stay to a year.

4. Do’s and Don’ts and how to make the best of your college experience abroad:

  • DO go out of your way to meet people, try new things, be open!
  • Don’t forget about your studies if you’re not pass/fail.
  • DO travel and remember to follow the laws.
  • Don’t (well, try not to) be ethnocentric.

and….TRAVEL! Traveling is easy and relatively cheap to surrounding areas whether it’s Asia (to South East Asia) or Europe or South America. I got roundtrip tickets from Hong Kong to Vietnam for ~$150 USD. Although, I do recommend you travel more in the beginning of your term, as classes and midterms/finals can pile up one over another.

Did I miss anything? Check out my website for more info about my travels! http://www.tibbyme.blogspot.com/

hong kong How to go about Studying AbroadHong Kong

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14 comments for “How to go about Studying Abroad”

  1. when applying to studying abroad, make sure to check the deadline for applications for the time of year that you would want to study abroad. also try not to start the application last minute because there are numerous documents that need to be filled out, along with the submission of your transcript, your personal statement, and letter of recommendation(s).

    also when deciding which school to attend abroad, it is good to check which one would best benefit your major/interest. plus you should do research on which classes are provided at each school. depending on the program that you go through, you might have to send in a tentative class schedule.

    another thing you should keep in mind when deciding on a school is the type of environment you would want to be in, such as urban or maybe a more rural/traditional setting.

    when determining how long you would like to stay abroad, remember that if your current school runs on a quarter system, it is better to studying abroad fall quarter since you will only miss one quarter. if you were to study abroad for a semester after fall quarter, you would end up missing both winter and spring quarter.

    something i hear often at the EAP office is that many students who go abroad for one semester finally get adjusted and make the most out of their stay towards the end of their semester. if you are going abroad for the sake of improving your language abilities, going abroad for a year might be a better option.

    Posted by xlicious | March 17, 2009, 11:22 am
  2. One of my friends is actually going to Hong Kong to study abroad. I’m looking to go to Korea or Japan because I’m fascinated by their culture.

    Thanks for the post it was insightful!

    Posted by UniversityDude | April 17, 2009, 3:19 am
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