Study Abroad Internships

If you’re tired of your pencils, books and all the collegiate shrapnel of university life, you might want to consider taking a semester abroad. Not only will you get a break from your worn-out college routine and get to travel some exciting new (hopefully sunny / beachy) location, but study abroad can also give you a workforce advantage for those post-college years.

Students who study abroad can add international experience to their resumes, even if they don’t complete internships or job training overseas. The fact that they were willing and able to adjust and learn in a foreign environment, and the fact that they have experience and knowledge of other cultures makes them more attractive to employers.

If you want to really boost your resume status, try looking for an internship to go along with your study abroad program. Check the career center at your host college, or hop on the web and do some searches. Study abroad internships are a great way to further your cultural immersion and really learn something about the place you are living, all while boosting your resume. You’ll meet people on a professional level as well as a social level, and you’ll learn a thing or two about international corporate culture. Internships while studying abroad can open some amazing opportunities for future employment, at home, and abroad.

But if you’re not thinking about the post college years yet, you should still study abroad. You should study abroad to break out of the monotony of frat parties and physics classes and go experience a new culture, a new bar scene, and make new friends in foreign lands!

Next time: Study Abroad programs in Italy

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  • Student Travel Hostels

    I found there are now study abroad providers that do study abroad in multiple countries. Semester at Sea and International Honors Program have done this for a while, but now International Studies Abroad and The Scholarship are also

  • Virginia

    For any student who is considering studying abroad, I would recommend coming open, in both knowledge about the country and the culture. The locals are a great source of information on what you need to experience to make the time even more special. They are very talkative, helpful, and have lots of knowledge to offer, including their history and perspective on the world. Studying abroad is rare opportunity to really test your limits and learn more about yourself. Be open, try new things, stretch your comfort limits and you will find that studying abroad is an experience everyone should have.

  • Jimmy

    Being only 22, I am not a veritable tome of knowledge. However, after studying in Copenhagen and Hong Kong, I learned a thing or two about myself and life.
    While abroad, I embraced the philosophy from the book The Magic School Bus, which says, “Take chances, make mistake and get messy!” I impart these words of wisdom onto you the readers to remind yourself to go live life and do some crazy things. You can get lost in the city, try eating chicken feet or simply attempt to be buddies with the cafeteria lady. It is little things like these that can really enliven your life.

  • jmricker

    Semester at Sea changed my life. It will change yours too, if you let it.

    How many chances do you get to sail around the world? To experience living on a ship, waking up to Cuba outside your window, eating dinner while watching the sunset over the equator? I had the chance and I took it. I crawled through the same Cu-chi Tunnels in Vietnam that the Vietnam soldiers crawled through. I rode on a rickshaw past huts built for Tsunami survivors in India. I watched the sun rise and set over the Taj Mahal. I smelled India. I watched a lion eat an antelope for breakfast while the sunset of Mount Kilimanjaro. I became a “shellback” as I sailed across the equator. In one hundred days I became a person who learned not to judge others based on religion, culture, or race. In one hundred days I became a passionate, adventure-seeking person who cared less about watching “The O.C” and more about learning how the Apartheid still ruins the lives of innocent South Africans in Cape Town.

    You can look at my pictures. You can read my journals. You will not feel the warm ocean breeze. You will not hear the cries of children in the streets of Vietnam, abandoned by their families because they were born mentally challenged due to the Agent Orange used during the Vietnam War. You will not feel your heart break as you realize you cannot save those children. But you can try. Go. Put your emotions to the test. Everybody deserves the opportunity to feel, taste, smell, see, and experience the world. Study abroad, leave your worries at home, and let the world change you. I did; and it was the best decision I ever made.

  • Lincoln

    Studying abroad can truly become one of those watershed experiences you often dream about, that rescue you from the mundane living of day to day by placing you in life- changing days of amazement. I wouldn’t trade my year of studying in Italy for all the tagliatelle ai funghi in the world! I would say the most important aspect of the study abroad experience is to keep an open mind…learning comes in many forms, from interacting with your neighbors and other locals to using your newly acquired vocabulary for the first time. Remember: you are a guest in another country. Respect your host and be thankful for the invite!

  • Katie

    It’s called a “travel bug” for a reason. Once you start traveling, you ache for more.

    My travel bug started while I was an undergraduate French major on a study abroad in Rennes, France. Four months of French culture intermixed with a minor in the Spanish weekend social scene wasn’t enough. So I went to Paris six months later on an independent study abroad. My language skills were improving grace à my jet-setting to Corsica, Nice and Bordeaux.

    For a travel-bugged aficionado, a six-month travel time interval was intolerable. So three months after my sojourn in Paris, I crafted a way to base my thesis on the history and culture of the Creole language. A two-month stay on the sea-sparkling island of Martinique seemed only justified.

    Most study abroad opportunities fade after college. Not mine. I searched for international American-accredited Master’s Degrees and found a perfect solution in the heart of Italy. With a two hour plane ride, I can practice French or Spanish with a native, taste an authentic Belgian waffle or visit the wonders of Warsaw. My roots may be back in the U.S., but my travel bug can be soothed and catered to over here.

    Study abroad has not only been an integral part of my life, it has truly shaped the culturally-inquisitive and internationally-based person I have become.

  • Yosefa

    In my 23 years of life, I have already had an experience that I rank as the best time of my life.

    I participated in a Kibbutz Ulpan Program at Kibbutz Yotvata in Israel. Half the week I learned Hebrew and the other half I cut vegetables with the natives in the kitchen and picked pumpkins in the fertile-desert fields. The best way to learn a language is to be submerged in the country of its origin. I began the program with no expectations and practically no knowledge of Hebrew. I left with a new outlook on life, a solid grasp of Hebrew and a longing in my heart for more.

    I feel as though I broke up with the love of my life and my heart still aches. Each and every day I reflect on my experience and miss the amazing people from all over the world that I became life-long friends with and the stress-free life I lived. It seems as though nothing I have done since being back even comes close to rivaling my ulpan experience at Yotvata. I will always cherish my time there and plan on returning as a volunteer.

    I can only hope that my enthusiasm and passion for experiencing life abroad pushes at least one person to venture into the unknown. Everyone deserves to live the best time of their life. You never know what lies ahead until you take a chance.

  • bridget

    Looking out the window at the bustling city streets, my anxiety subsided and I remembered why I wanted to come to school in Rome. Flower and vegetable stands overflowed onto cobblestone streets filled with shiny motorbikes, glamorous Italian women in sunglasses sipped espresso in outdoor cafes, and stray carts darted through shadows cast by the laundry hanging in alleyways. Everywhere was sunshine and color. I didn’t even care that I couldn’t understand the Italian men shouting at each other on a street corner. I just knew that this place was different from home, and different is good.

    It wouldn’t matter if I was in China or France or South Africa – all of these places are equally interesting in different ways. If I had not been born and raised in the United States, I’m sure I would be excited to go there, too. The point of studying abroad is to go somewhere – anywhere, really – and to fully open your mind and heart to a foreign culture. If you can be brave enough to take the first step out of your comfort zone, the rewards will be endless, but you must be prepared to find yourself in unfamiliar situations. Here in Italy, everything shuts down in the afternoon for a siesta, professors are often late for their own classes, people take three hours to eat dinner, and I almost get hit by a car every time I step out of my apartment. All of these facts of life do require adjustment. To fully benefit from your experiences in a new culture, you have to figure out how to be present instead of considering what you’ve left behind.

  • Franklin A. Cerne

    Immerse youserlf in cultures, my friends. Your view of the world will never be the same.

    Three years ago I was a fledling playwright who had little experience and drive to make my passions take flight. It was a time in my life that where I lacked much direction. I had been studying theatre of Central Eastern Europe, but in my heart I knew that I was (I am) a playwright, and that academia was not where I belonged.

    I ended up travelling to Romania, spending a month in Cluj. Formerly the capital of Transylvania, it is now the center of the western portion of Romania. It was in this small city that I met so many wonderful artists who now our friends of mine and who I have completed a number of projects.

    Because of this trip, I can now say that my work has been produced overseas, as well as being translated into two languages (Romanian and Hungarian). I also have completed a filmscript which is currently being worked on by a student at Babes-Bolyais Universitatea.

    I fully endores you get off your bums and see the world. Great things may come from it!

  • Carly

    Of all the things I was expecting, perma-dyed pink feet were not one of them. Nevertheless, that’s what I ended up with after a day of trekking around the limestone karst peaks of Yangshuo, China. I followed the scents of enticing homemade noodles more than I followed the weather, so when the monsoon struck it was a complete surprise to me. I was wearing red tennis shoes with white leather stars on them, and when I took them off I discovered the pink feet. They stayed like that for six weeks—a ready-made souvenir for me to take home, and a reminder of the driving rains, floods of bicycles, and most memorable semester of my life.

  • Matt

    “What’s her name?” my grandfather asked when I told him I was studying abroad. “Mexico,” I said, dismissing his old-fashioned humor.
    He didn’t think I got the joke, but Mexico is more like a good girlfriend than a country, anyway. She makes the best food you’ve ever had. After a few weeks with her, you see the world in a completely different, beautiful light. She’ll get you out of your comfort zone to try new things. Time flies when you’re together. And you’ve never been so sad to leave her. But as the saying goes, it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.

  • Jed

    Sure cities like Paris, London and Barcelona, long the stalwarts of the study abroad experience still hold a wealth of culture and charm, but often overlooked, and deserving of a second glance, by students seeking a new experience abroad is the global south.

    Studying abroad in South/Southeast Asia, Africa, the Middle East or Latin America can prove a challenging experience, but all the more rewarding for the cultural and physical challenges these locales provide.

    Aside from saving some bucks (studying in most developing countries will usually cost less than living in the states) studying in the global South will provide you with a worldview completely different from that at home, and will most likely help to teach you as much about yourself and your own culture, as it will your host country and people.

  • Lizzie

    Take a guidebook with you. It’ll become your best friend, an instant reference for the cheapest place to eat in Barcelona or the closing time of the coolest tavern in Prague.

    Or maybe I’m just a guidebook junkie. I used Rick Steve’s guide to Italy over the summer when I was studying Italian in Florence at Lorenzo de Medici. I followed his detailed itineraries for city weekend visits to places like Verona, Cinqueterre and Naples. But for more serious information, long histories and in depth descriptions of art, I turned to a Muirhead’s Northern and Southern Italy from 1924. It’s old, but remarkably thorough.

  • Lizzie

    Someone very important once said that if you get tired of London, you’re tired of life. There’s a ton to see, and if you’re studying there you’ll probably want a guidebook.

    When I was getting a master’s degree at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, I turned to an Eyewitness Travel Guide for a basic overview. An A to Z, a vital pocket-sized map, helped me find my way around the streets. City Secrets London informed me of special things like unusual history or the group of American baseball players in Hyde Park. And Hudson’s Historic Houses and Gardens was my reference for cultural sites.

  • Samara

    I went to India determined to have no adventures whatsoever. I’m aware that that sounds crazy, antithetical to the goals a student abroad surely ought to have. But when I told people I had applied to study in India, the most usual response was a skeptical look, and “Oh, are you going find yourself or something?” Hey, it rankled. I wasn’t going to smoke pot and pretend to be Hindu. And I was defensive of India — it was a place for genuine academic endeavor, dammit! Not a haven for Westerners on a misguided quest for the exotic! I packed my books, and prepared to stay on campus.

    Oops.

    I wound up riding a motorbike through a lightning storm. I wound up stranded in a tiny town at the foot of the Himalayas. I wound up performing Shakespeare for an Indian audience, and dancing with fifty fat brass bells on each ankle. I could go on.

    There is no difficulty in finding adventure abroad. It finds you, after all, even if you think you don’t want it.

  • CMG

    Before my semester at London’s Richmond College, I had never traveled. Afterwards, I couldn’t stop traveling – so I became a writer to make sure I didn’t have to.

    Now, working as a journalist in Germany, I find that my study abroad experience continues to enrich my life, in small but touching ways. Last summer, for instance, I was road-tripping through Provence and stopped for the night at a 17th century farmhouse turned bed and breakfast. Chatting with the English owner over homemade jams the next morning, we discovered he’d been a teacher at Richmond around the time I studied there. He gave me a discount on the room.

  • arden

    A Finn, a Canadian, a Swede, and a Mexican sat together sipping cheap wine from the bottle watching the sun set over Pont Neuf next to La Garonne. What sounds like the opening line of an age-old joke is actually one of my most cherished memories from my time spent studying abroad in the ancient city of Toulouse, located in the occident region of southern France. Discovering breathtaking architecture, magnificent cuisine, and warm hospitality, what I learned outside the classroom equipped me with life skills that are otherwise hard to come by. Though I snickered my way through my studies, studying abroad was no laughing matter and finding a balance between one’s studies inside and outside the classroom ought to be the aim of any student wishing to make the most of learning overseas.

  • LouiseCobb@gmail.com

    Call me a baby, a wimp, a college girl that lamented my home and my family, or you can be polite, and say I was old fashion homesick during the first half of my study abroad in the Netherlands. But, by the end, when I had seen 11 countries and made my way through 18 cities, I was the one with tears in my eyes boarding the plane home. I can still recall the smell of certain places, the taste of food, and images of cultures as I sashayed through various countries. The learning from my study abroad wasn’t in the classroom; it was in small life lessons.

  • Channing

    I was studying Russian Theatre when I heard voices in my head. “You must go there,” they said, driving me to do some research. What I found was unbelievably exciting: a program at The Moscow Art Theatre. I applied. I got in. By the next semester, I was in Moscow. It was thrilling to experience weather colder than I’d ever known; study acting in classes taught entirely in Russian; study ballet with a rail-thin, hot-tempered Bolshoi Ballerina; eat foods I’d never heard of (Studynyna Rybiacha, anyone?); thrilling to live life in an entirely different way than I’d ever lived it.

  • Ryan

    Studying abroad is a window of opportunity that is open for a very short while. Being a college student is a unique experience in and of itself, but it’s nothing compared to what you’ll experience if you decide to take your education to a foreign country.
    As the world continues to shrink, it’s becoming more and more important to understand cultures outside of your own. Studying abroad is the best way to accomplish this. It’s not a backpacking trip, it’s not a vacation and it’s not a sight seeing tour. It’s immersing yourself into a culture you’ve never experienced and learning everything you can about it. As you grow older you’ll find that an opportunity like this slowly starts to disappear. Don’t let it pass you by.

  • Karisma

    Just like Shakespeare is better performed than read silently, the world is best experienced than taught secondhand. If you’ve ever sat in a history class imagining the glossy pictures coming to life, you should consider studying abroad.

    Studying abroad, for me, was illustrative. It was drinking Tinto de Verano while watching gypsies dance flamenco and touring the caves where they lived; it was hiking up to an ancient cathedral; it was feeling the tiny pebbles on a clear beach nestled into the grooves between my toes; it was viewing landscapes that made you want to take a deeper breath; it was a cache of memories waiting to be discovered.

  • Kim

    While I was studying abroad in Rome, I would occasionally get home sick. I’d miss the A/C, wireless internet, fast food, cell phones, and people around me who all spoke the same language. Now that I’ve returned to that “luxurious” life, I get home sick for the tiny apartment with a lukewarm shower, the ‘standa’ where I could never find butter and the bickering Italian couple across the street in the Trastevere neighborhood where I lived. In the few months I spent there, the city and its people found its way into my heart and still remain there to this day.

    The opportunity to study abroad is truly a once in a lifetime chance. Sure, you might visit a foreign country after you graduate, but it’s unlikely that you will ever have a chance to absorb the culture without the pressures and responsibilities of the “real world” weighing down on you. These programs immerse you in the culture, the style of living, the traditions and probably most importantly the people of a given country. It opened my eyes to a completely different way of life that is not any better or worse for its differences and inspired me to continue my travels and experience other cultures to grow as a person. Amidst the trinkets, stories, photographs, souvenir shot glasses and memories that I brought back with me…that inner growth and worldliness is one of my most treasured keepsakes.

  • Isomer Plum

    When, in my youth, I discovered that my world was not the world, I vowed to reconcile the two. That is I didn’t, and still don’t, ever want my reality to be relegated to one city, one region, or even one continent. During orientation for my current study program in Rome, a speaker said that he has made it a point to live in many different places around the world – not just visit, but live. Study abroad is a wonderful way to do this. Even in just a semester you pass through the tourist phase into the local life phase. Grocery shopping and eating out in a language that may not be yours (yet), blowing fuses with the hairdryer and trying to explain to the nice old man at the hardware store that your closet rod collapsed and you need new thingies to hold it up (you don’t know the damn word in your language, nevermind his) figuring out local cell phone plans – not exactly vacation. Which is what makes it so wonderful. There’s just something about taking a big, unknown, new place and making it mine that I can’t get enough of. It’s addictive. I’m a full-time resident here in Italy and hope to go to Denmark this summer and maybe Shanghai in the winter. I was thrilled to find out that I can study abroad on my study abroad program. The endless weekend trips to places famous and hidden gems, the completely platonic yet amazing conversation in Venice with the beautiful Belgian boy and his Dutch friend over wine and overnight in the piazza until sunrise. You will encounter some of the most interesting people of your life, whether for a passing conversation in the hostel or a lasting friendship. I promised myself never to be too attached to one language or culture or place and study abroad was the best starting point out there.

  • AndreaM

    For me the most important decision was not what country (or city) but what school. If you study abroad through a university often times you will find a microcosm of your school transplanted in a foreign country. For some, this can be comforting, especially first-time travelers. For others, however, this may feel alienating and completely lacking authenticity. Don’t forget thousands of accredited schools all over the world cater to international students, and they will help you to make sure your credits transfer. Plus, you may save thousands of dollars on tuition by using an external source. Check out studenttraveler.com and go the study abroad link; it’s a great way to start your investigation into the range of study abroad opportunities that exist.

  • zoella

    Walking from Sennaya Ploschad (the Haymarket) along the meandering canals of St. Petersburg allowed me to live a literary novel. Entering the streets of Dostoevsky brought Crime and Punishment to life in a way that no discussion or lecture could have accomplished. The fever and confusion of Raskolnikov was palpable in this labyrinth of a city.

    The value of reading a passage, and then going into the world in which it was written, was immeasurable. The novel was no longer simply words on a page, but existed in a dimension where I could enter.

  • Michelle

    Morning time, wandering down the cobblestone streets bustling with people headed to work, periodically catching a pleasant whiff from one of the outdoor cafes. Finally stopping at my favorite little spot, Café Avenida. Carlos greeting me with great enthusiasm as he serves me my usual, café con leche and complimentary churros.

    During my semester abroad in Càceres, Spain, this quickly became a morning routine for me, sometimes even repeating in the evening. Bringing Carlos a taste of the delectable pastries from next door. The Spanish, laid-back, ‘mañana’ mentality quickly rubbed off on me, as well as the other students I traveled with. We found ourselves taking more time to just look at our surroundings and enjoy what was going on around us. For me personally, the months abroad were not just a cultural immersion, but a sort of self-immersion as well. The lifestyle contrasted greatly with the American belief that more hours in the day were needed for work instead of for rest and social purposes. It was nice to be in an environment that was not nearly as high stress and fast paced.

    Personally, I am a huge advocate of taking a semester abroad, or even just traveling for an extended period of time to a different part of the world. The experience can be as rewarding as you are willing to let it be. A person has to realize that things are going to be different than what they are used to. But if you can go into another country with an open mind about the time you spend abroad, it can be one of the best experiences you have in your lifetime. There will be aspects of a culture that you will truly enjoy and there are bound to be a couple aspects that you may not like as well. But if you can concentrate on the good qualities and hold onto them even after returning home, then the trip was more than worth it.

  • Sarah

    I lived in France during the reign of Dominique de Villepin’s controversial CPE law and the country-wide response to it. What was supposed to be a semester studying medieval French literature in the wine capital of the world quickly turned into a chaotic introduction to extreme student activism.

    And I was lucky. I lived with two vibrant French girls obsessed with extreme sports and karaoke. Unable to attend school for the majority of the semester, I met with professors at cafes and their homes and received personal assignments and attention I never would have gotten otherwise.

    The university buildings were barricaded with chairs, the streets were flooded with people in clown costumes, and the busses often didn’t run. All of the young people in France united passionately to protect the job security of their cohorts. Signs in windows read: “Ne jamais se soumettre,” which means to never surrender oneself. The experience made me into even more of a young adventurous idealist. And I never will.

  • Dorinda

    I made the decision: I am going to take one semester of law school and study in London. And I did. And I would do law school all over again, just for that one single semester. Really, I would.

    Much to my surprise, I was the first person to arrive from San Francisco from my school. We tried to coordinate for us all to arrive together, but life likes to mangle arrangements doesn’t it? So on my first night there, I decided that since I was tired and groggy, I’d do something really mellow. I decided to go to the “Notting Hill Arts Club,” which Time Out describes as a “place for artists and students to congregate and chat.”

    Now, all the old mods will like this one. I was waiting in “que” (same as waiting in line, except there are runs to the liquor store across the street while patiently awaiting your turn) and asked the guys behind me why there’s a line to a cafe for artists and students. They had no idea what I was talking about. Apparently, Martin Gore, read: Depeche Mode, was spinning that night. Flabberghasted, as you can surely imagine (at least, if you knew me ten years ago when I had what I thought was an undying crush on Marty), it was for a measley £5, read, about $10. They got me onto the “C” guestlist, i.e., not Martin Gore’s but one of the other Deejays, and we got in without a cover and a small wait, and had an absolute blast. What a great introduction to London.

  • Dorinda

    If you decide to study abroad in London, promise me, my lads and lasses, that you will pick up a Time Out magazine every week. Though, at a whopping 4 pounds, it might be a bit exorbitant with our poor little exchange rate, it is worth every penny. With it in you hands, you will not miss a single Londonian event. Throw out all the books, this publication is all you need. (Oh deary! Don’t throw out that International Environmental Law textbook!)

    I went to the British Museum. It was boring, quite frankly. Except for the badge exhibit, with, you guessed it, a compendium of badges so stunning if only for the sheer number. The Parthenon was interesting too, not necessarily because it’s beautiful, but because the Brits still have it. There’s a huge conflict with Greece over bits and pieces of it. The Greeks want the pieces that the Brits have and of course, the Brits believe that they should keep it. Their justification is brilliant: if they started giving away stuff that’s not really theirs, that would set a bad precedence, and they’d have to part with a load of other stolen materials! These people have a clever way of obviating rationality. You gotta love it. I also learned that the word “symposium” derives from a Greek word that means, “to congregate and drink.” The OED in me wonders how it has come to mean nothing about drinking. . . And of course, that is a perfect lead in for my next blog entry!

  • Dorinda

    A few days ago I went to our Law library to do some research. (Contrary to popular opinion, you DO study some when studying abroad). There, right before the entrance to the legal section of the library sits the corpse (yes, that’s right, the corpse) of one Jeremy Bentham. He was a leading theorist in Anglo-American philosophy of law and one of the ‘founders’ of ‘utilitarianism’. He was the son and grandson of attorneys, and “his early family life was colored by a mix of pious superstition (on his mother’s side) and Enlightenment rationalism (from his father).” He went to law school but never practiced, and only wrote theory. Anyways, after he died, he left a large portion of his estate to the school that I’m attending, University College, London (which, by the way, was created for those individuals excluded from university education–i.e., dissidents, gays, Catholics and Jews) with the instructions that his corpse not only be placed in a chair for all who enter the library to see, but also, that for every board meeting, he be rolled out and placed at the table. Thus, every year, at every meeting, some guy with a dolly rolls him (placed, of course, in what is probably bullet-proof glass) to the board room. Megalomania at it’s best, yes? A few years ago, his head fell off, so they made a mold of it and now, sits a wax replica of his face atop his shoulders. Splendid!

  • Dorinda

    Last weekend was the Notting Hill Festival. It’s notoriously known to be one of the biggest, bestest, most hedonistic carnivals in Europe. Not exactly my cup of tea, espcially considering that I missed a free Jarvis Cocker (Pulp -Brit pop)show because of it. The good thing about it, though, is that I had the best Indian food ever there. I haven’t been eating out much because the food is disgusting, but the Indian, oh! the Indian. It makes me want a clay oven all to myself. There are all kinds of great foods nestled in this one area where many Jamaican and Indian and Pakistani people flock to when they come to this country.

    The other good thing about the festival is the educational value it provided me that i will now impart to you: here in jolly olde England, it is NOT an offense to urinate in public. I know, ’cause i asked the constable and he was ashamed to say that it is indeed legal to go when and where you gotta go. There you have it folks: the ultimate free democracy!

  • Gina

    I often try to remember when and why I decided to study abroad. I know a few girls on my freshman dorm floor were talking about it and they told me I should too, but it escapes me why I listened to them. I had never planned on studying abroad prior to that. Maybe I wanted to be part of a group? Maybe it seemed everyone else was doing it, so I should too? I’ve never been one to succumb to peer pressure or follow a group, so I don’t know. What I do know is that the group of girls dwindled down to four by the time we left for Alnwick, England the spring of my sophomore year, and I was one of them. Little did I know when I boarded that plane from the states, that it would be the best time of my life, and change my life forever.

  • Adam

    Studying abroad certainly gives you a different perspective on “studying.” I spent some time learning about film in Prague, Czech Republic in 2003. The experience itself gave me just as much insight into filmmaking as the courses – which is an adequate amount; the Czechs have a different take on filmmaking altogether. I spent many nights of the week out late at local pubs, drinking, and talking to classmates and locals. The following days were spent, some times hung over, discussing Czech films and the films we were making on our own in Prague. The lines between night and day blurred; one late night, I spent two hours talking to my screenwriting professor at a bar about Czech film and the city of Prague. Although I didn’t recollect much of the conversation the next day, I definitely had a keener sense of my studies.

  • mgariepy

    Here in the U.S. we have the Superbowl; in Europe it’s the World Cup finals that turns sports fans into face-paint wearing fanatics. I was studying abroad in Paris last summer when France took on Italy in the finals. When we walked into the small bar on Rue Mouffetard, the locals striped our faces with red white and blue paint in the pattern of the French flag. For three hours we cheered and booed together, groaning in unison at the infamous Zidane head-butt. When the French lost I saw grown men cry together, though the mourning didn’t last for long. Everyone grabbed their flags and noisemakers and went out into the streets to drink and celebrate together. While I was in Paris I saw the Louvre, which was impressive, and Versailles, which was beautiful, but nothing compares to the night of the World Cup when, for three hours, I got to be French, just another fan cheering for the home team.

  • Johanna

    After living in small-town America for all of my 18 years on this planet, I decided I wanted to try a vastly different experience after high school. I enrolled in a Scottish University. I ended up staying for four years, graduating with a degree from a British University. It was the best decision I ever made. It opened my eyes. It made me a more tolerant, aware and compassionate person. The connections I made and the lessons I learned will follow me for the rest of my life. I encourage everyone to consider taking the different path and opening their senses to the world around them.

  • stefan

    For my study abroad I travelled to the medieval German city of Regensburg. It’s jokingly referred to by locals as the northernmost Italian city, and from the broad piazzas and vibrant street life, it’s immediately clear why. There I studied at the university in an intensive language program and thanks to my chatty Bavarian roommate, my language skills improved outside of the classroom as well.

    Due to its central location on the continent my little medieval town was also the perfect base for exploring the rest of Europe. From there I traveled widely – to Austria and Hungary, to Belgium and to the Netherlands, having strange and wonderful experiences everywhere I went.

    Perhaps the most valuable thing about studying abroad is that the most mundane activities, from buying a loaf of bread, to getting a haircut, become adventures. It’s a total learning experience because your teacher is your environment and since it surrounds you, your education is inescapable. It will challenge you, burn you, frustrate you and reward you. But try as you might, when you study abroad you can’t help but learn something about the world and about yourself every day.

    ssirucek@gmail.com

  • AndreaM

    When I was abroad, I studied everything. Books and lectures took a back seat to life’s experiences and interactions. Vivacious Costa Ricans taught me how to surf at sunset. The waves taught me to be simultaneously humbled and awed. In Barcelona Gaudí taught me about the astounding art in architecture and Dalí showed me how life is surreal. The streets taught me how to protect myself, and Ivan taught me more Spanish than I could have imagined though he spoke no English. In studying abroad, by the mere fact of being a foreigner, you will learn about the most important person in history, yourself, and you will change forever.

  • Vitaly

    It’s already dark by the time the train pulls into the station. It’s your first trip to a country where you don’t speak the language, don’t know the customs, and most definitely don’t know where to go from the train station. You’re both excited and terrified to be spending the next six months studying in this new and completely foreign place, where you’ll learn to appreciate not only different cultures and languages, but also the comforts of your own. You’re going to make friends with new people, go to bars without a fake ID, get to know and love the local delicacies, and write exhilarating emails to jealous friends back home. You might even go to class if you feel like it once in a while. All this, of course, provided you can find your way to the nearest hostel…

  • LaurenKat

    By far, the most interesting and influential people I have ever met are travelers, are those whose experiences abroad sparked some dormant curiosity that carried them from college to career. That’s what it takes to see what you are really made of. Traditional university life, while fascinating in its own right, can only take you so far in your education. You have to escape the prejudice of your own experience to truly learn about the world, and in that way, learn your part in it.

  • joanna

    “Glasgow? Really? Have you ever considered Edinburgh? It’s so much…nicer!”

    This was the common attitude I was presented with when telling people of my chosen exchange destination. With an industrial past and a seedy reputation, gritty Glasgow does not stand up well in comparison to the nearby fairytale city of Edinburgh. It took me all of a week to realise the reality was somewhat reversed.

    True, Edinburgh is Scotland’s gem, with castles and palaces and history seeping from every cobblestone. Glasgow, however, is a thriving city, with life, culture and excitement humming through its slightly tarnished atmosphere. With bars, concerts, museums, theatres and festivals around every corner, boredom was simply not in the cards for my new found friends and I. The prominent architecture (the Uni itself is breath-taking) and surrounding parks had the rest of my senses hooked before long.

    True, the odd dodgy area kept me on my toes, but a bit of street sense will keep the average person out of trouble. Just keep your trap shut about the local football teams, and Glasgow will be more than eager to make up for its bad reputation.

  • Jess

    It’s not always going to be easy. I once spent three weeks in a smoke-ridden studio apartment in France with no heat, no money, and a bad case of the flu. But I made the most of it and indulged my ennui like a true Gaul: by buying a jug of wine and reading everything Balzac ever wrote. After living through that, I found strength in myself that I’d never known before. You’ll be amazed, after a couple of months in a foreign country, how you can change from a fainting daisy to a discothèque-hoppin’ mama-bout-town. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard work and you’ll learn constantly—but you’ll pick up plenty of foreign cuss words, phrases and customs, and all the great things that make up a truly foreign culture but aren’t in any book.

  • jennifer

    Deciding to study abroad was probably one of the easiest decisions of my life. I know it sounds naive, but in a way it saved me. My entire life I had been set on a track-largely academic based. Going to college wasn’t even a question in my mind, it was a must. However, studying abroad allowed me to step out of myself and challenge that self in a way that academics and everyday life in my hometown never could. Arriving in London with a bag strapped to my back, a messenger bag across my shoulder, and two suitcases in either hand-I didn’t know a soul. Nonetheless, I managed to get on a train, a bus, and eventually a taxi to find myself 6 hours north in the city of Leeds. Perhaps the best advice I can give to anyone who is thinking about studying abroad-is to embrace it fully. I didn’t hang out with any other Americans the entire time I was there, I traveled around with my new found British friends, and I acclimated to a different education system, that in the end has benefited me endlessly.

  • H

    A fellow student asked me once if everyone should study abroad. We were having coffee late that night, desperately trying to cram for the next final. I sipped the tangy bitterness of caffeine and burnt beans, thinking.

    “Remember Monty Python?” I said, clunking my cup down. “Well, imagine Monty Python loading a human catapult and hurling its passenger across the Atlantic, directly into the most chaotic cross-section of Athens’ marketplace. Motorbikes zooming, merchants yelling things you don’t understand, little old ladies elbowing their way through…Kind of sounds like fun, right? But it depends on if you like that sort of thing.” He knew how passionate I was about my experience, how much I referenced my year in Athens, Greece, when trying to solve a problem or analyze a cultural issue in my anthropological studies, so I wasn’t surprised when he looked up at me with the dry stare to which I had grown accustomed.

    “I don’t get it.”

    I knew what he wanted–the cliche answer–but I just couldn’t give him that in good conscious.

    “Look,” I said, “study-abroad was one of the best, most revolutionary, slap-me-in-the-face-you-are-here experiences of my life. It’s really not so dissimilar to voluntarily throwing—make that launching—yourself into the throngs of a completely different culture, under completely different laws, customs, and often language and currency systems, with no immediate way back. The rules are no longer yours, the people and the language no longer familiar. No Mom, no Dad, and usually no friends to accompany you. There’s some help from the school, but on an experiential level, you just have to, well, figure it out. With a willingness to use uncomfortability as an opportunity for adventure and knowledge, study abroad will be the most exhilarating, psychedelically mind-altering,’wow, I can’t believe I got to do that’ experience of your life. But you have to be willing to do it, to live it. If the sensation of flying thousands of miles across the ocean at breakneck speeds and landing on a pile of tomatoes, cartoon-style, excites you in some odd way, you’re ready. If not, I might wait a while.”

    He hesitated for a moment. “Definitely a…different way to put it.”

    “Really?” I smiled. “Thanks! That means you got it.”

  • Anna

    Why study abroad? Why not?! Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 dollars. Do not pass up the opportunity to not only visit but, to live in a different country! Girls, hear the delicious accents! Guys, taste the variety of brews!

    Studying abroad is a fabulous method to see the world and have the comfort and support of college. Explore a fresh, new, and exciting town or city. Meet some locals and learn new lingo. Visit those places you’ve only seen in pictures and realize how nothing can compare to the real thing. Don’t forget your schoolwork but remember studying abroad is an all inclusive package of learning. So, in between those troublesome classes go and add another stamp to your passport!

  • Anna

    If you are thinking of traveling later in life, studying abroad is a fantastic preview of life abroad. If it wasn’t for my time spent studying in London, my trip to Australia would have been…difficult, to say the least.

    Studying abroad prepared me for independent world wide traveling. I studied in central London, took weekend trips with friends to Wales, France, and Italy, and returned to a cozy flat after jumping off the tube. My time abroad was cushioned with the comfort and support that college provides, while giving me the freedom and independence to survive in and discover new cities and countries.

  • Allaina

    While living in Spain I wondered if I should see a bullfight. I love animals and don’t eat them, so it was hypocritical of me to attend, but the issue of it being a cultural experience made my answer difficult. When in doubt, ask the locals! It turns out fewer than 25% of Spaniards regularly attend bullfights. One man asked me, “You are American? Have you ever been to a rodeo? It is the same thing.” He was disgusted by the cruelty involved and hated that his beloved country was best known for the sport. Most Spaniards I spoke to who had been said they did not enjoy it and did not have plans to go again. This is not to dissuade anyone, but remember that just because something is cultural does not always mean it is ethical, a required experience or even popular among the locals.

  • Allaina

    To blend more effectively with the locals, consider changing your style of dress. Americans have a very casual style not often seen in Europe. This is particularly true in Spain. If men wear jeans, they are very form fitting and often accompanied by a nicer shirt. Women wear skirts rather than shorts when it is hot. Even the children are dressed in frilly dresses and nice sweaters American children would only wear for special occasions. Your demeanor and face may still scream foreigner, but people will gawk less if you leave the Daisy Dukes at home.

  • Allaina

    Now I must pass on one of the best safety tips I received before going to Spain. If a woman tries to hand you a flower, don’t take it! The kindly woman is a gypsy who will demand payment for her gift. If you happen to take the flower, do not engage her or her comrades. Even if she yells at you, just walk away. Do not offer her any money! When you open your wallet to fish for some cash, she will grab what she wants and run (I knew someone who lost 50 Euros this way). It is not charity to help them in this way. Contribute to an official organization if you feel like the need to help.

  • Claire

    Students that are fortunate enough to study abroad tend to come from a wealthier, educated backgroud. These students have seen life through the ease of wearing sunglasses, have experienced highschool and college often with the luxury of their parents paying, and have seen their world with blinders on. I am one of these students that realized my true fortune in Sevilla, Spain, my sophomore year of college. Of course it changed my life, because I now saw that there was life beyond myself. I saw that there are people living in cliff dwellings in the mountains of Granada, that there is a culture that allowed a dictatorship to rule for 80 years simply out of fear, that an entire country’s votes can be swayed by a terrorist attack. And mostly, that no matter where you go, you are only a day away from home.

  • Milan

    When my car got stolen less a week after my 21st birthday, I didn’t feel I’d been robbed of the freedom of the open road: I’d been granted it. Pockets bursting with insurance money, I browsed the San Diego City College summer schedule.
    “Study Spanish, Mexican history and indigenous anthropology in Ensenada,” the ad read. I’d had three years of Spanish, including an honors course, in high school and a semester in college, plus the knowledge that comes with growing up in Southern California, so I figured I was fluent. I discovered, during my first week in Mexico, I could order beer, say thanks and stutter some words I didn’t fully understand but knew were really bad.
    That’s where my host family came in. Er, mom and dad were 24 and 35, respectively, and their lifestyle matched mine—beer lunches, travel weekends—and they taught me expressions not found in schoolbooks or pidgin conversations. At the end of the summer, I meandered, over water and land, to Mexico City. I had studied Spanish, Mexican history, and indigenous anthropology, but I had learned how to live in Mexico.