Where Should I Study Abroad: 7 Tips to Keep in Mind

A diverse group of study abroad students chats an outdoor table
March 14, 2024 5 min read Liaison

Making the most of your study abroad experience extends beyond academic achievement to include personal growth, cultural immersion, and global networking.

Key Takeaways

Meticulously planning ahead is the key to turning your international education dreams into reality.

Your decision should reflect your academic objectives, linguistic capabilities, and cultural interests.

Studying abroad encompasses various expenses in addition to tuition, including housing, airfare, and daily living costs.

Many institutions and external organizations offer awards based on merit, financial need, or specific study destinations and fields of study.

Ensuring that the courses you take overseas will count towards your degree requirements back home requires close collaboration with your academic advisor.

Before deciding where to study abroad, be sure to learn about each potential host country's customs, traditions, and societal norms.

Embarking on a study abroad program is an exhilarating opportunity that offers undergraduate students the chance to immerse themselves in a new culture, enhance their academic pursuits, and gain a global perspective. This transformative experience, however, comes with its own set of challenges and requires meticulous planning and preparation to fully reap its benefits. From navigating the complexities of choosing the right program to understanding the financial implications, and from adapting to a new cultural environment to ensuring one's health and safety in a foreign country, there are numerous factors to consider.

Whether you're drawn to study abroad programs for the allure of adventure or the chance to explore unique higher education opportunities unavailable in the United States, understanding what lies ahead is the first step towards turning your international education dreams into reality. Here are the top seven considerations to keep in mind before embarking on your journey.

Choose Your Program Carefully

Selecting the appropriate study abroad program is a critical decision that significantly influences your international educational experience. This decision should be guided by a thorough assessment of your academic objectives, linguistic capabilities, and cultural interests. Consider the academic focus of potential programs: how well do they align with your major or area of study? Are you aiming for language immersion in a non-native language, or do you prefer a program where English is the primary language of instruction, even in a country where it is not the dominant language?

The format of the program is also essential. A university exchange program offers the familiarity of a structured academic environment and the possibility of paying your home institution tuition fees. Direct enrollment, which may allow for a more autonomous experience, involves enrolling directly in courses at a foreign institution. In addition to those options, programs offered by third-party providers can provide specialized learning options with robust support systems, ideal for students seeking specific experiences and assistance. Weighing these choices carefully against your educational and personal goals will help you select a program that best fits your aspirations, ensuring a rewarding and enriching study abroad experience.

Do the Math: Costs and Financial Aid

Maintaining financial security while studying abroad is essential to ensure that the experience is both enriching and feasible. Studying abroad encompasses various expenses, including tuition, housing, airfare, and daily living costs. It's crucial to research and plan for these expenses well in advance of your departure date. Consider exploring scholarships, grants, and financial aid options specifically designed for study abroad programs. Many institutions and external organizations offer awards based on merit, financial need, or specific study destinations and fields of study.

Budgeting is another essential skill for study abroad students. Creating a realistic budget that accounts for all potential expenses can help prevent financial stress while abroad. Students should consider not only fixed costs like tuition and housing but also variable expenses such as food, entertainment, and travel. It is also important to understand how currency exchange rates and international banking work.

Evaluate Academic Considerations

Ensuring that the courses you take overseas will count towards your degree requirements back home requires early planning and close collaboration with your academic advisor. It's important to understand how your chosen program's coursework can integrate into your academic plan, potentially affecting your graduation timeline.

Language requirements present another significant consideration. Depending on your destination, you may need to demonstrate proficiency in the local language or take advantage of the opportunity to study in a language immersion program. This can be a valuable aspect of your education abroad, offering not just language skills but deeper cultural insights.

Also be sure to consider the academic culture and teaching methods of your host country, which might differ significantly from what you're used to. Adapting to different academic expectations and styles of learning can be part of the challenge and the reward of studying abroad. Engaging fully with the academic opportunities abroad means not only enhancing your global perspective but also acquiring skills and knowledge that are highly valued in the increasingly interconnected world.

Learn about the Culture

Cultural preparation is indispensable for students planning to study abroad, as it equips them with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the social and cultural nuances of their host country. Researching your host country's customs, traditions, and societal norms is a crucial first step. These insights foster respect and help visiting students avoid cultural faux pas, facilitating smoother integration into the local community.

It's normal to experience a range of emotions when adjusting to a new cultural environment. Recognizing the stages of culture shock and developing strategies for adaptation can significantly enhance your ability to cope with these feelings. Engaging actively with the local culture, keeping an open mind, and maintaining a sense of humor can be invaluable tactics for managing these challenges and expanding the scope of your global education.

Familiarizing yourself with local laws, understanding the political climate, and knowing how to access emergency services can ensure your safety abroad. Additionally, learning key phrases in the local language and staying informed about local customs can further enhance your international experience. This comprehensive approach to cultural preparation not only ensures your well-being but also enriches your study abroad experience, allowing you to fully embrace and learn from the diversity of your host country.

Prioritize Health and Safety

Addressing health and safety is a pivotal aspect of preparing for a study abroad experience. Ensuring you're well-prepared involves several key steps:

  • Health Insurance and Vaccinations: Verify that your health insurance covers you internationally or consider purchasing additional travel health insurance. It's also crucial to be up-to-date on all required vaccinations for your destination country, as well as any recommended ones for safeguarding against common diseases in the area.
  • Registering with Embassies or Consulates: Registering with your home country's embassy or consulate in the host country can provide an extra layer of safety. In case of an emergency, such as a natural disaster or political unrest, your embassy can provide assistance and important information.
  • Understanding Local Laws and Regulations: Familiarize yourself with the local laws and cultural norms of your host country. This can include regulations around drug use, dress codes, and social conduct. Being aware of and respecting local laws and customs can help you avoid legal troubles and better integrate into the community.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Know the local emergency numbers and have a plan for different types of emergencies. Keep a list of important contacts, including the nearest embassy or consulate, local emergency services, and your program's emergency contact information.

Consider Living Arrangements

Exploring living arrangements is a key part of planning your study abroad experience, as your choice of accommodation can significantly influence your comfort, integration into the local culture, and overall enjoyment of your time overseas. Here are the primary housing options to consider:

Dormitories/University Housing: Living in dormitories or university-provided housing offers a straightforward way to meet fellow students and immerse yourself in campus life. This option often provides a supportive community and easy access to university resources, making it an excellent choice for first-time travelers or those looking for a more structured environment.

Apartments: Renting an apartment, either alone or with roommates, allows for more independence and the opportunity to live among locals. This option can provide a deeper cultural immersion and a more authentic living experience but requires more self-sufficiency in terms of cooking, cleaning, and dealing with landlords or rental agencies.

Homestays: Staying with a local family can be one of the most enriching housing options, offering firsthand insight into the local culture, traditions, and language. Homestays provide a unique opportunity to form meaningful connections and practice language skills in a natural setting. However, this option also demands adaptability and openness to new ways of living.

When choosing the right housing option, consider factors such as your personal comfort level, desire for independence, budget, and language or cultural immersion goals. It's also important to research the safety, location, and amenities of potential accommodations. Ensuring your living arrangements align with your preferences and needs will greatly enhance your study abroad experience.

Making the Most of Your Experience

Making the most of your study abroad experience extends beyond academic achievement to include personal growth, cultural immersion, and global networking. Here are strategies to fully embrace and maximize your time abroad:

Engage with the Local Community: Actively seek opportunities to interact with local residents, not just fellow international students. Participate in community events, join clubs or organizations related to your interests, and volunteer. These activities can offer deeper insights into the local culture and help you form lasting connections.

Cultural Immersion: Immerse yourself in the host country's culture by exploring its traditions, cuisine, and history. Attend cultural festivals, visit museums, and try new foods. This not only enriches your understanding of the country but also helps in overcoming culture shock and adapting more quickly to your new environment.

Travel and Exploration: Use your free time to travel within the host country and possibly to neighboring countries. This expands your horizon, offering a broader perspective of the region's geographical and cultural diversity. Traveling also develops your independence and problem-solving skills in unfamiliar situations.

Build a Global Network: Connect with students, academics, and professionals in your field of study. Networking can open doors to future academic collaborations, internships, and career opportunities. Use social media and professional networking sites to stay in touch with the contacts you make abroad.

Document Your Experience: Keep a journal or blog about your study abroad journey. Documenting your experiences, challenges, and learnings can provide valuable reflections you can look back on. It's also a great way to share your adventures with others and offer advice to future study abroad students.

Embracing these aspects of your study abroad experience can significantly enhance your personal development, offering a well-rounded, enriching experience that extends far beyond the classroom.


Studying abroad is more than just an academic endeavor; it's a journey that can transform your worldview, enhance your career prospects, and enrich your personal growth in ways you might not have imagined. As you consider embarking on this adventure, remember that thorough preparation and an open mind are your best tools for success. From selecting the right program that aligns with your academic and personal goals to understanding the financial commitments, from navigating the nuances of a new cultural landscape to ensuring your health and safety, each step is integral to crafting a fulfilling study abroad experience.

Embrace the challenges and opportunities that come with international study. Engage deeply with the local community, immerse yourself in new cultures, and build a global network of friends and professionals. These experiences will not only contribute to your academic achievements but also to your growth as a global citizen.

Remember, life as a study abroad student is not just about seeing different parts of the world—it's about discovering new parts of yourself. Asking yourself “Where should I study abroad?” is the beginning of a journey that promises to be as rewarding as it is enlightening.


Studying abroad can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture and learn about career prospects in important global markets.

The term study abroad refers to leaving your home country to pursue an education in a foreign country.

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