If you thought deciding where to go to college was fun, then choosing where to study abroad is going to be even more exciting! …More likely, choosing a school was stressful and overwhelming. Given a literal globe of possibilities of study abroad programs, the selection process may be daunting. Here are some things to consider when picking a foreign city to live and study in:
* Are you fascinated by a particular culture?
+ Have you yearned to see Roman ruins? Or are you looking to experience something totally different from the Western world?
+ Can’t decide? Consider a program that takes you around the world, like Semester at Sea (http://www.semesteratsea.org/). There are other multi-city immersion programs to choose from, especially summer programs.
* Where have you traveled before?
+Could you imagine calling one of those places home for a month, semester, or year?
+Do you want something totally different from anything you’ve already experienced?
* How large or small of a city interests you?
+Look at the size of the area you grew up in, or where you go to college. Is that comfortable? Are you looking for something different?
* Do you have foreign language skills? Do you want some new ones? Does that even matter?
* What is your budget?
+Although you can’t put a price on the value of cultural enrichment, some cities cost much more to live in.
+Look into currency exchange rates and cost of living – finding a cheap city to live in could
A) save you money,
B) allow you to ball out a little more than you’re used to, or
C) leave you with money for weekend trips!
* Are there any study abroad programs specific to your major or minor?
+Some programs through UM allow you to complete a minor or take courses specifically for your major. How convenient.
Studying abroad is a potentially life-changing experience. It’s an opportunity to reinvent yourself in a world disconnected from your past. You might find yourself learning new languages. It’s the chance to travel to places you wouldn’t usually have access to on the weekends, and return to your new home base for classes Monday-Friday. You can make friends from places you’ve never heard of, and easily keep in touch for years to come, thanks to Facebook and WhatsApp.
Deciding where to go takes some careful thought, but the experience is more than worth it.