It is hard to find anyone who isn’t interested in travelling. Going abroad for business or pleasure tends to make any listener of a traveller’s stories a bit jealous. However, for how popular travelling abroad may be, the number of people who think about studying abroad is surprisingly small— around 300,000 per year from the U.S.
There are plenty of reasons why so many people tend not to consider working on a degree in another country. Language barriers, cultural nuances, relocation, visa logistics, not to mention being away from friends and family. Whatever career goals may be on the horizon, continuing education and the chance to go abroad is not only something fun to do, but it can be a great way to gather new skills, create wonderful networks, and gain unique experiences that will help success in life and business.
All that’s left to do is just figure out whether it is a good fit and how to do it. Here are some tips on how to navigate the logistics of earning a degree while studying abroad.
Consider the Pro’s and Con’s
Studying abroad is not for everyone. It requires being self-reliant, courage, patience, and the ability to navigate entirely different worlds— and that’s before attending the actual class work! The idea of moving away from home has a certain ring to it, but the actual logistics of pulling it off well can be challenging and daunting.
Even if that photo of the Italian Alps is one of the most beautiful places that can be imagined there are a lot of details that need to be worked out in order to navigate relocating a life for a few months, let alone a few years.
Programmes vary a lot in cost, length of time, and the depth of cultural immersion necessitated, and even things like the credibility of a foreign degree being recognised in the United States. Taking the time to weigh the pros and cons, the potential risks or challenges, and the feasibility from a financial standpoint should all be seriously considered before committing oneself to such a major relocation.
As with most things in life, a little bit of research and preparation can go a long way to easing what might look like a major roadblock. It is a great idea to begin researching study abroad programmes far in advance— one year out is ideal; four months before is pushing it. This allows for the generation of a checklist of things that need to and might want to be attended to before being able to actually set out for living in another country.
Things like applying for a passport, a work visa (if at all possible) and making a plan for financial support should be on the top of the list. The deadline and requirements for each will vary greatly and wait times for approval and delivery of certain documents should never be put off to the last minute.
Be aware that certain classes can’t be fulfilled except in junior and senior years, let alone in graduate programmes. Therefore, waiting to finish that Doctorate in Nursing might be wiser to put off.
Identifying the Right Programme
There are thousands of colleges worldwide, and while some places are certainly prettier than others, the availability of meeting one’s career goals can quickly be narrowed down to programme availability per location. Starting with deep consideration of personal and career goals and then cross-referencing that programme availability is one of the best places to start.
Additionally, taking time to dig further into the nuances like acceptance rate, cost of tuition and living, housing, and time-requirements should all be filtered through general personal and professional goals. Once that’s done, it is much easier to sort through what type of exchange program would be most suitable for those goals.
Passports and visas are non-negotiable. Being prepared for processing times and personal requirements have to be taken care of before anything else should really be seriously put into motion. Next, the establishment of a budget is essential — not just for choosing a programme, but for making sure that there is a safe place to live and meet all those basic needs.
While some programmes have housing built into the costs, an off-campus dorm or home may be necessary. All of this needs to be filtered through a solid budget. Encouragingly, most colleges that host study abroad and international students are well equipped to assist prospective students in these steps.