Studying overseas to broaden your horizons

Regardless of career choice, studying internationally gives you an edge over others. Experiencing life in another country broadens horizons, creates opportunities and ensures one's adaptability to new surroundings. Improving foreign language skills is one of the most important aspects of international study.

Types of International Programs available
Although there are a variety of educational programs available internationally, they can be divided into three categories.

  • Undergraduate Level
    At the undergraduate level, students can opt for either one semester abroad or a full academic year. Academic advisors prefer sending students overseas in the third year of university, but the opportunity to study abroad should not be missed only on this technicality.
  • Graduate Level
    As there are more scholarships and funds available to graduate students, universities internationally welcome graduate students. An effective source of information is the faculty who are usually well traveled.
  • Summer and Short Term Programs
    These programs are suited to any student who does not wish to disrupt the academic year as these programs are confined to summer or other short-term breaks.

Another format that allows a student more freedom and flexibility in the curriculum is study at a university in a developing country. While the academic credits earned might be negligible, the experience of learning and living in a radically unfamiliar environment can be life changing.

Requirements and Limitations

There are a variety of study programs available internationally. Researching programs that fit best is imperative. Students in good academic standing who are able to establish relevance of the program to their field of study will have no problem in enrolling.

  • Although credit is earned for international programs, the level of academic standards varies and students should be prepared to receive fewer credits at international universities.
  • Financial considerations need to be clarified and sorted out prior to applying for international study programs.
  • Living with host families is an excellent way to imbibe local culture and improve language skills.
  • Detailed research into the program and university is essential to assess the level of facilities available, such as libraries, laboratories, computer facilities and campus life.

Preparation
While short-term and summer programs do not require much time, longer programs require up to 12 months of preparation prior to departure. The Graduate Records Exam (GRE) is taken in the summer or fall and application and scholarship deadlines are usually in January or February. Immunization shots are required which can take up to several weeks. It is advisable to learn about the country you will be going to, understanding its history, culture, political and economic climate.

Conclusion
A program of study abroad is often the best way to start an international career, even though it might cause some financial strain and disrupt studies. Consider the trade off between separation from home and gaining a new perspective on life through international experiences. It is essential to select a country and university that is aligned with personal preferences and career goals.