When deciding where to study abroad, you should also consider how you want to study abroad. Many students don’t realize that they have options. There are three general types of study abroad programs:
- Study Abroad programs with other students from your university — You’ll be part of a group of students from your university, often living and studying together at an overseas university with local students and professors.
- Island Programs – You’ll travel to a university with students and professors from your home university. (check out my article on Student Traveler.com about an Island Program in London)
- Direct Enrollment with a foreign university – you’ll be a regular student, studying in a foreign university with local students and local professors.
Direct enrollment can be a great way to really get that total immersion experience you’re looking for while studying abroad. You’ll have to speak the local lingo proficiently because all your classes will be taught in their language, so your best bet is to enroll directly as a study abroad student in an English Speaking university.
Oftentimes you can enroll directly to your chosen university without any outside help. Check the university website for an international student section. You’ll usually be able to find out about all the restrictions and options through their website. Check for language qualifications, GPA requirements, and credit-transfer stipulations. There will probably be a person to contact from their international student department, and they’ll be able to answer any questions you have.
If you need a bit of hand-holding (there’s no shame in asking for help, just be ready to pay for it) you can check out one of the many companies that help to bridge the gap for students interested in studying abroad. Check out www.ciee.org and www.ifsa-butler.org to get started.
They can offer application help, visa information, and even orientations at your host university. Remember, you’ll save money if you can handle the direct enrollment process on your own, but you’ll miss out on some of the perks of having an experienced study abroad company behind you.
When studying abroad through direct enrollment, you need to remember that you’ll be more or less on your own, but foreign universities often have international student directors and directors of foreign studies who are there to help. They know you need to be comfortable to learn, so your host university’s international office is prepared to help you adjust.
Studying abroad through direct enrollment is often referred to as the most independent form of study abroad, but that doesn’t mean it has to be scary. You’ll have to do some research, find a school that accepts international students (these are increasingly common, all over the world), and once you’re there, you’ll have to step out of your comfort zone and meet new people, while adjusting to foreign methods of teaching. It’s kind of like being a Freshman all over again – and as terrible as we claim Freshman year was, we all know it was a fun year!