Choosing your study abroad country

June 21, 2012

For most college students who take the opportunity, studying abroad is the highlight of their entire four years. Consider that college itself is likely to be one of the best times of your life, that makes quite a statement for study abroad programs.

Why should you study abroad? For many students it's their first experience in another culture, and while this can initially be shocking, it also offers a sense of adventure and experience. To study abroad is to see a world as an adult but with the eyes of a child. It's invigorating!

But when you apply for a study abroad program, how do you decide which country is best for you? This is a tricky process, full of misconceptions and potentially life-altering choices. Fear not though, and consider these tips - you're only getting started on your travels overseas. 

1. Don't worry about the language barrier - at least not outside Europe. South American, Asian, African and Latin American programs will indulge you in an entirely different culture while primarily offering classes in English with minimal language expectations. Just because you're not fluent doesn't mean that country isn't for you.

2. The benefits of European programs. While a good portion of your time will be taken up with academics, most programs supply students with long weekends and time for trips. Europe's density of cultures and countries is fantastic for this, all easily accessible by rail and plane.

3. Why a developing nation might better suit you. The global economy is in a complicated place, and if you have a vested interest in the roles small nations will play in the future, you may want to look into studying abroad in one. While these programs aren't as well-established as European ones, they can be found with the assistance of your school's study abroad offices.

Studying abroad isn't an experience to be missed, but it can also put financial strain on students, especially those living in an expensive foreign city. Exchange rates are tough, and while few currencies are going strong, the dollar certainly isn't near the top of that list. If you're concerned about your financial situation, seek out scholarships for college or ones especially for students traveling abroad. Opportunities are out there.

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