Any student who has studied abroad will tell you that their experience was amazing at least, life-changing at best. Traveling and learning in another part of the world is a great way to expand your experiences and learn far beyond the classroom.

Like any major trip, traveling abroad requires a great deal of preparation.

Think about what type of experience you want.

There are many types of travel programs for college students. Think about these options before you make a decision:

  • Length/timing of program
    • Do you want to study for a semester or a full year? If your school has short semesters in winter, you could do a shorter trip during that time, or you can study during your school’s summer break.
  • Faculty-led programs
    • These programs tend to be shorter term (3-8 weeks) and are run and graded by a member of your college’s faculty. You will automatically get credit at your own college, and your grades will be included in your GPA.
  • Co-sponsored
    • These programs are a collaboration between your college and one in another country. Classes are taught by the other college’s faculty, grades aren’t included in your GPA, and the credit from the classes must be transferred to your college.

Search your college’s website or talk to your academic advisor or travel abroad services about current opportunities. They can help you find a program that’s the right fit for you.

Get ready for your trip

Visit this site or your college’s passport office (if it has one) to register for a passport.  If you already have one, make sure it’s up-to-date. You’ll also need a visa, so figure out the requirements for the country you’re visiting. These can take a few months to arrive, so plan ahead.

Research customs and cultures of the country you’re visiting so you can more easily fit in and know what to expect when arriving.

When you’re abroad

  • Spend time with your host family if you’re staying with one.
  • Get to know locals, not just your fellow American students.
  • Figure out what parts of your temporary home city are safe and which aren’t.
  • Prepare to feel confused and out of place at first, but don’t let that deter you from going out and having new experiences.
  • Know where to go for help with academic, cultural, and emotional issues.

If you’re interested in studying abroad, get started on these steps early in your college career. The results of your efforts can lead to an amazing college experience!