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How to Arrange Your Own Study Abroad Program (1/5)

08 April, 2009 18:18  EasyExpat EasyExpat

This is the first article of a series of 5, explaining how to arrange your own study abroad program.

Decide Where to Go

Study abroad is a valuable experience for a number of reasons. International experience is almost universally expected for anyone pursuing a career in international affairs, either before leaving school, or soon afterward. Even if you plan to stay put in your own country, international experience such as study abroad can demonstrate that you can work well in a multicultural environment, which is increasingly important as globalization becomes the norm.

Of course, many colleges and universities, and even some secondary schools sponsor study abroad programs, which often take care of all the practical aspects, such as accommodations, visas, etc for students. They also usually arrange financial aid. That's very handy. But if you can't or don't want to work through the program at a school or university, you can arrange your own study abroad program, including financing. All you need is sufficient lead time to plan (and perhaps save money) and the determination to go. And a computer with Internet access.

The computer is important because that is how you will search for possible programs as well as make many of the arrangements. Where you finally wind up doing study abroad depends on a number of factors, but the major issues will be your language skills and your interests. If English is a native language for you or if you speak, understand, read and write English well, you have a major advantage. Many study abroad programs, especially international programs, are conducted in English, even programs located in countries where English is not a native language. If English is not your native language, you will almost certainly have to present passing scores on a TOEFL (you can register online) or comparable test to be accepted in an English-language program.

For studies which are not conducted in English, such as language immersion programs, you will also almost certainly need to show language proficiency in the language of the program. Be honest with yourself concerning your ability to speak a foreign language. You don't want to find yourself in a program where you fail a single class or, in the worst case scenario, fail the entire program because you cannot keep up with the material.

It's also important to select a program which offers courses or degrees in what you want to study. If you aren't excited about the subject matter, you will soon become bored, no matter how beautiful your surroundings. Your interests may actually determine where you go for a study abroad program. For instance, if you want to research apartheid, then you will certainly wind up in South Africa. In any event, the Internet is your friend when you begin researching possible study abroad programs. You can do a search for "study abroad" and "X country" and/or "X subject" to narrow down the selection. You can also go to clearinghouse sites such as StudyAbroad.com and GoAbroad.com which provide a wealth of information about study abroad programs worldwide.

Check out the website for each program that interests you. Research where a school or university is accredited. Research volunteer organizations to determine their affiliations, how long they have been in operation and related information. Don't hesitate to contact the school or volunteer organization directly about specific aspects of their programs. Legitimate institutions and organizations will be happy to answer whatever questions you may have. Beware of programs which offer only vague information or don’t list a physical address. Be absolutely sure that the program you choose is reputable before you sign any documents and especially before you spend any money. Travel related websites such as Transitions Abroad are very good resources for reputable study abroad and volunteer programs.

Useful Resources

The study abroad programs listed below are just a very brief selection from a wide variety of possibilities.




Middle East

North America

South America

South Pacific (Australia, New Zealand, and surrounding region)

Next Steps

Once you've decided where you would like to study abroad, it's time to pull out your calendar and decide when to go abroad. That subject will be covered in the next article.

Audrey Henderson
Freelance writer based in Chicago


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sir , i want to pursue my higher education(m.s) in australia or in newzealand.suggest me about that

kishore kumar     11 Apr 2009, 10:11