Things to consider when studying abroad

December 24, 2012

Many students jump on the opportunity to study abroad while they're finishing their undergraduate work, and with good reason. Spending three or four months abroad can broaden students' cultural horizons, shake up the monotony of a typical semester cycle and even give them the chance to learn more about their own lineage. However, there are a handful of safety and financial tips for college student travelers hoping to soak in more of the world should know.

Know your new temporary home before arrival
This may go without saying, but you should know a fair amount about the nation you're visiting before you get off the plane. Unless the national language is English, try learning some of the local vocabulary words so you'll be able to better communicate with the locals. If the residents already speak English, study up on the local parlance. For instance, the British tend to refer to an elevator as a "lift," and "cheerio" is often used as a substitute for "goodbye."

For more specific information, Seventeen magazine points to the U.S. State Department's website as a good resource for information about visiting other nations.

Make sure your credits will transfer
Schools don't all have the same policies regarding whether or not, or how much, courses taken abroad will count toward a degree. U.S. News and Report tells students going abroad to make sure they look closely at their school's rules for transferring credits before signing up. Obviously, while traveling may be fun and enlightening, it would damper the experience if no classes counted toward graduation.

Be safety-conscious and prepared
Experts who spoke with Seventeen magazine offered several tips for student tourists looking to avoid crime, or mitigate its consequences. These include emailing a scanned copy of your passport to yourself so you can always replace it quickly. Also, women are encouraged to prevent purse snatchings by sticking to a cross-body bag that can't be easily grabbed by passers-by. It helps to travel in groups whenever possible, and avoid wandering alone at night in unfamiliar cities.

Unfortunately, women may have to take extra precautions - especially in nations where they don't speak the language. According to a study published by PsycNET, reported on by Jezebel, among a sample of 218 female undergrads at Middlebury College, it was shown that students who went abroad were four times as likely to experience unwanted sexual contact and five times more likely to have been raped.

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