Before I arrived at UMass, I had already decided I would spend a semester abroad. My father told me his only regret (I’m sure that’s not true) was skipping a chance to study abroad in France. Around the first semester sophomore year when I picked up my Spanish minor, I knew I would eventually be on a plane to Spain, and took all the right steps that landed me there earlier this year. Unfortunately, my semester has been cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you should have hesitations about studying abroad. I’ve put together a small list of things to consider and look out for in your study abroad process.
- LOCATION! Location is easily the most important factor to address when you decide to study abroad. For myself, the decision was not difficult as I am a Spanish language minor and would wish to be immersed in the Spanish culture. Things to consider when you choose an abroad location are the language spoken, the bordering countries for travel purposes, and the climate for your comfort. I chose Spain as I am proficient in Spanish, it is located in Europe which has many countries densely situated for ease of travel, and the climate was Mediterranean, a warm upgrade from our New England winters.
- CREDITS! After all, you are STUDYING abroad, so you will need to check with your advisors about how your semester away from campus affects your academic progress. Personally, I found it helpful to research lists of courses each program would be offering in order to fill my requirements. Once you have an idea of which courses you need to take to graduate on time, your abroad choice may become clearer.
- MONEY! Studying abroad is a financial commitment, for some, it is a greater financial burden than a semester at home would be. This does not have to be the case, however. Many schools and programs offer scholarships specifically for individuals venturing abroad. These scholarships are often ignored in the abroad process, and the applicant pool is smaller. Take advantage of the scholarships and apply to any that you believe would help you pay for a semester abroad.
On top of this elementary list, there is a mutiny of other factors influencing your abroad decision, including social and health reasons that may be more individualized. At the core, I believe these three factors should drive your decision of where to study abroad and as long as you think for yourself and your needs first, you will have an amazing semester.