When is the best time to study abroad and where?

I am currently a junior in college. I have been debating when, where, and how to study abroad for many years and have still not come up with a conclusion. Obviously my time is drawing much closer to an end.

I have been thinking that maybe grad school abroad may be the best thing, but with the economy and the fact that I already have a decent amount of debt, I’m wondering what would be the best decision.

I feel as though study abroad would be an excellent experience that I should really take advantage of while I have the time. I just can’t figure out how I want to do it and if it will turn out to be a foolish financial decision in the long run.

I don’t know any other languages, except a smattering of German. I am majoring in Social Sciences and hope to possibly get a job in a museum or library setting or in some sort of restoration business.

Any advice? Anecdotes? Scholarship suggestions?

My only advice is to do it. Study abroad can be a life changing experience and travel will never be easier than when you are at university. If you are worried about language, go study in an English speaking country. The best way to start is probably to talk to your study abroad office at your college.

I gave this exact advice to my nephew and he hemmed and hawed and never did it and now he really regrets it. GO!

Do it. Absolutely. Do it now. Go to your study abroad office and look into second semester options.

I am a grad student and obviously I cannot speak for all grad programs, but no way could I study abroad at the moment - I am crazy busy here, taking classes I NEED for my degree. (Also, I am not in an academic program, I’m in for a professional Masters. Maybe if I were in a PhD program, I’d feel differently.) Undergrad is definitely the optimal time to do it.

I studied abroad when I was a junior (eleven months in Israel; 2 months in Haifa and 9 in Jerusalem) and I LOVED it. It was fantastic. Totally changed my life. I’ve never heard anyone who studied abroad say they regretted it. My masters degree program now is very international in scope and virtually every person in it studied abroad as an undergrad. It’s so cool to hear about everyone else’s experiences studying in Spain, Peru, Denmark, Senegal, Italy, etc. My only regret is that I didn’t find a way to go to more countries!

If you don’t speak any other languages, you can study in an English-speaking country. There are also English-language programs in schools in non-English speaking countries, which is what I did. Check with your study abroad office, they will have all of the details.

It’s a lot easier to study abroad as an undergrad than a grad student, so you should think about doing it sooner rather than later. Go to your college’s study abroad office and find out what sort of programs they have and what kind of financial assistance they offer – you may be pleasantly surprised. (Many schools offer study abroad scholarships, or deals where you pay exactly the same tuition for your semester abroad as you would at home. Of course, if you’re usually working during the school year, you may not be able to do that at the foreign university, but the financial burden itself usually isn’t that high.)

Before you make any plans, you should think about how you’re going to complete the requirements for your degree; going in the second semester of your junior year, if there’s still time to apply, leaves you a little more wiggle room than trying to cram everything into your senior year.

Yeah, now and now. If you absolutely can’t make it happen before you graduate, there are various work/ study/ volunteer options for new grads. I think trying to do grad school abroad when you’ve never studied abroad before would be biting off a heck of a lot. For that reason, I think one of the other options for the year after you graduate would be a better choice.

If you are considering grad school, definitely consider FLAS (Foreign Language Area Studies) as a scholarship option.

Yeah, Junior year is pretty much the time to do it.

When she’s not looking.

Do it do it do it! My stepson spent a year in Germany as an exchange student between high school and college. It was the one of the most profound experiences of his life.

Study abroad during grad school is much harder. Do it now. It was the best thing I ever did. Junior year is the best, and it’s best if you can do a whole year to really get the full experience. But you sound like it will be senior year for you (which I’m guessing means 1st semester senior year since most colleges require you to be in residence there during your final semester).

What do you want to get out of it?

In my experience people who study abroad in places like Paris have the time of their life, but don’t necessarily get a very deep cultural experience. There are just too many Americans around and it’s too easy to live a party lifestyle.

People who go to more exotic places (Egypt, the Gambia…) get a lot richer of a cultural experience, but have to deal with a lot more loneliness, isolation and culture shock.

And there are plenty of good English-language universities in exotic places (American University in Cairo, for example).

I was VERY pleasantly surprised; my school just transferred all my aid to (their own) study abroad program, where the tuition was actually lower than the home campus, so I actually came out ahead. Of course, the home campus was in NYC, and I was a Spanish major planning to study in Madrid, so the whole plan was really a no-brainer.

For a party lifestyle *and *a cultural experience study here.
NUI Galway and Trinity College, Dublin would be two recommended spots. Galway is a small city, bursting with culture and an international population. Dublin is bigger but still fairly compact and Trinity is in the heart of it.

Agreed with posters above. As a CompSci major I had to find a program taught in English that was close in curriculum to my US university and then convince my faculty leadership since they’d never approved one before (I was at UC Santa Barbara which sends dozens abroad each year…but no engineering students 'til me…)

Totally worth it - go now!

I suggest this: http://www.rgu.ac.uk/governance/who/
When I started there in 2005 we were given a talk about how the Uni wants to expand and make itself available to a broad range of people from different cultures and countries and I honestly believe it does. The uni has expanded greatly and has something for everyone. Worth a look anyhoo :slight_smile:

I agree - go ASAP.
I briefly attended the Frei Uni in Berlin while I was living there, and it was a great experience. Plus, tuition should be far less than what you are probably paying here in the US, so all the money you would normally pay for tuition can go towards the larger expense of room and board.

Trust me when I say that being able to put that year of studying abroad on your resume will most certainly open a few more doors when you go job hunting. It might not seal the deal, but employers will at least be more inclined to put you on the list to be interviewed.

But the real reason to do it is simply that it will open your eyes and be an experience you will never regret or forget!

Okay, all of these “just do it” answers are very motivating and helpful. I think I’ll go have a chat with the study abroad people as soon as I can.

I’m wondering if going somewhere in Africa or Asia might be a good experience too. I’d really like to go somewhere less “typical” than usual study abroad. I’m very solitary, though, and I wonder if the culture shock along with difficulty making friends and just being so far away from my family would be too much.

Then again, people who I talk to about my restoration dreams keep telling me that Italy would be the place to go.

Ah, so much to think about!

The best time to study abroad is when she is nekkid.

When I went to U of Evansville they offered a program at Harlaxton College UK that would have cost me exactly air fair over what I was paying for tuition anyway. Everything would have followed me, scholarships - grants - everything. At the time I seriously considered it but went to the Evansville campus anyway, got high, got drunk, came within a half of a point of passing through, spent all of my grant money on liquor and weed and dropped out after a year.

Had I went to England things might have been different or they might not but I would always have whatever experiences that would have offered me.

I guess my point is, the best time to study abroad is when you have the opportunity.

That and when she’s not looking.

Might I. . . might I ask why if you’re interested in archival work, museums, restoration or historical preservation or whatever, why you’re majoring in social sciences, rather than archaeology, history, or art history? Just curious. Or maybe you do mean you’re an anthro/archaeo social sciences person rather than a sociologist or what-have-you. . .

Oh, and do it now. As an undergrad there’s a lot of support and infrastructure set up for you, while as a grad student you’re pretty much on your own, often without even a institutional affiliation in the host country.

Yeah, do it now. Put off graduation if you have to.

And don’t let your lack of language experience stop you. One year I found out in April that I had a chance to go to France for the next academic year (beginning in October). I’d never studied French before. A couple of intensive classes later I arrived in Paris, found an apartment, and began attending classes. I was a fairly competent (if not fluent) francophone by Christmas. You can do it.