What goes into a study abroad? Wondering if you should throw a dart at a map and go wherever it lands or should you toil away for days at end poring over possible destinations?
With the wealth of information about studying abroad, it may seem impossible to go through. Not to worry, here are five of the best tips designed to help you pick the exchange destination perfect for you.
So you’ve got a once in a lifetime opportunity to study abroad and you can’t wait to go. But wait! How can you pay for this? Where should I go that is affordable?
One of the most common concerns over a study abroad is the finances involved. From flights to accommodation to school fees and daily expenses, it seems as though the list could go on forever. But, fret not! There are a few ways to look out for when trying to score the best destination deal.
When looking up destinations based on flight prices, make sure to utilise your International Student Identity Card (ISIC), that is issued to every student going abroad by your home university.
This card is a powerful weapon and will allow you to grab flights at attractive student prices. You might want to go through the ISIC website to find out which countries offer the best benefits toward cardholders. For instance in France, you will be able to watch movies, enter museums and watch musicals for half the price or better yet for free!
More often than not, your home university would have a list of international partner universities listed on its website. Partner universities often have discounted school fees so it would be wise to cross-check your wish-list of destinations against universities under the partner list.
Once done, contact your university to see if you will be eligible for a student loan. They might refer you to organisations that offer to sponsor study abroad programmes on condition. That way, you can reduce the cost of funding your study abroad as much as possible.
One more thing: What most prospective students often neglect to research properly is international health insurance. Not only will it be literal lifesaver if you get yourself into a medical mishap, it will also help ease the financial burden. So, don’t forget to put this on your to-do-list.
Maybe it’s time to put that second language you’ve been learning but never got to practice to use. Another way to narrow down your choice of exchange destinations is to go where the language takes you.
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to dabble in Mandarin; then search up universities in Taiwan or China. Or if your guilty pleasure is watching the occasional Korean drama, why not put your skills to the test by enrolling in a Korean university?
Having prior knowledge of the native language of the destination question or even an ounce of interest in it will colour your study abroad experience. Being able to speak the language enables you to connect with locals in a way that most travellers would never be able to savour.
Throwing around a few words or phrases in Korean, French or Mandarin; wherever you may go may earn you a warm smile or gracious hospitality that would make your time abroad infinitely easier.
Pace of the city
If comfort is the deciding factor in studying abroad, you’d want to dive into a city with a soul that matches yours. A city girl at heart? Maybe you’ll be drawn to the big names; New York, Paris, London, they will be the first cities on your list. Chaotically beautifully, these metropolises enamour you as much as they light you up.
What if you prefer tranquility over concrete jungles? Cosy university towns located away from the city centre would be more up your alley. Online quizzes abound, you must attempt them to be aware of what type of personality pairs best with a city. You thrive in an environment that you can connect with, shaping your experience for the better. So, choose wisely.
Depending on your major and interests you may be more inclined to certain universities. Some universities may have different specialties.
Maybe you’re a budding filmmaker, why not look up universities in New York renowned for their film accolades. If your dream is to become an entrepreneur, hop on over to Chinese universities, the hottest breeding ground for new startups these days.
I’ve always been pleasantly surprised at the diversity of courses offered worldwide; the dynamic range of modules available broadens your horizons as a student.
Though a student of politics, I have always had a knack for history. When I came across a course about gender and sexuality in Nazi Germany, I jumped to enroll. The choices are endless! Once set on a university, be sure to compare individual course offerings on their website to ensure you will be able to secure transfer credits for them.
Travel and Accessibility
What is a study abroad experience without some travelling here and there? If you’re looking to make the most of your experience it would be wise to pick a city with an established inter-city transportation system or with a highly covered airport.
The chances are, the more international the city, the more options for cheap weekend flights, trains or buses out of the city making ticks off your bucket list a piece of cake.
Major cities may even have up to 2-3 airports servicing it, catering to both international and budget airlines, tripling your chances of visiting your dream holiday destination for respite.
If a destination is highly sought after, you would be bound to meet another student traveller embarking on the same journey as you. Now’s your chance to make new friends and visit that island you’ve only ever dreamed of! Don’t lose it!