How to Choose the Right Study Abroad Location For you

Studying abroad is something that’s a popular choice for many U.S. students.

There are many benefits to studying outside of the U.S., even for a short time period.

The benefits are often professional, personal and academic.

The number of students opting to study abroad from the U.S. is increasing each year as more and more students, and families see the benefits.

Some statistics and facts related to studying abroad include:

  • 60 percent of students choose short-term programs that last a maximum of eight weeks. For more than 38 percent of students who study abroad, the summer is the time they participated in a program.
  • Around 54 percent of U.S. students opt to study in Europe and specific countries that are popular for students including France, Italy, Spain, and the U.K.
  • Asia is growing in popularity as a destination for U.S. study abroad programs and in particular Japan and China.
  • The majority of business majors opt to study in London, and students studying music often choose Vienna in Austria.
  • 90 percent of study abroad graduates find employment within six months after they earn their degree, which is almost twice as high as the number of non-study abroad graduates who find employment within that period after graduation.

So, with all that being said, there’s a big question for students who want to go abroad, and that’s how to choose a destination.

The following are key considerations for choosing a study abroad destination.

Think About Your Goals

One of the biggest considerations to keep in mind when choosing a study abroad location is what your goals are. Every student is going to have unique goals, and these should be factored into destination selection.

For example, if you want to study in a certain area, some locations may be better than others for that.

However, if your goal is to experience a completely new culture than what you’re used to, you may want to go to a more exotic destination than somewhere like London.

Visa Requirements

While you may be dreaming of a certain far-off destination for your study abroad experience, there are logistical concerns that have to be kept in mind.

One area of logistical concern is whether or not a visa is required, and if so what the process of getting a visa is like. Some visa requirements can be difficult and complex, and may also be expensive.

However, if you have somewhere that you really want to go, maybe you don’t mind going through more hoops to get your visa. Just be aware of what will be needed and how it will all affect the cost of studying abroad.

Costs

Whether your family is paying for your study abroad program, you’re paying out of pocket, or you’re using loans, the cost of the program is an important consideration.

If you’re just starting to explore study abroad programs, you have to think about the fact that tuition is just the beginning of the costs. Some locations are significantly more expensive than others as well.

For example, many of the most popular destinations in Europe are going to be quite a bit more costly than some other locations.

In addition to tuition, costs that you’ll have to account for in a study abroad program include general travel and airfare, textbooks, accommodations, and daily living costs.

There are some websites that you can use to compare different locations you're considering to see how they might stack up regarding cost.

Rural vs. Urban

When a student is deciding on a destination, they have the choice between a rural or an urban area. With a rural area, it may be less expensive, and there may be opportunities for outdoor activities and more adventure.

In an urban location, there may be more restaurants, nightlife, and cultural opportunities, but the program is also probably going to be more expensive.

If a student chooses a rural area to save money, will they have access to the resources they need? Will they end up spending a lot of money on transportation to get back and forth to the larger metro area? How will this impact costs?

Finally, students who are choosing a destination to study abroad should think about their language skills. With a lot of study-abroad programs, the student may only need to know English, and all coursework may be in English.

However, will you need to take an intro language course to at least learn the basics of a foreign language so you can function in your destination?

In many big cities, it may not be a concern since many people will speak English, but if you’re going somewhere more remote or rural, there may not be many English speakers so it can be a big consideration.

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