One of the most important elements in choosing a program is to pick one that complements your major and fits with your future goals. You should seek out a program that offers courses you need to continue progressing toward graduation at a steady rate. Before choosing or applying to a program, it is extremely important for students to consider several factors: goals, interests, budget, and more. Picking a place based solely on the travel opportunities it provides isn’t the best way to choose a study abroad experience.
We all know of Paris, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Florence, or London, and it’s tempting to go to a place you’re already familiar with, but it’s also worth considering places with which you’re not as familiar. Cities are great for visiting, but sometimes you get a more authentic cultural experience in a secondary city. Not only is the cost of living lower, but it’s easier to immerse yourself in the host culture when you’re not surrounded by Americans and services catering to a large tourist population.
Consider how much interaction you’ll have with locals. Do you have the opportunity to live in a home stay, apartment or residence hall with local students, or are you only placed with other Americans? Are there opportunities for internships, service-learning, or volunteer activities that will get you out in the community?
We strongly recommend that you study a local language of the place where you’re studying, even if its not required or that’s not the reason you’re studying abroad. Learning the language is a sign of respect to your local hosts. Talk to your academic advisor about whether you can afford to take the language for elective credits only.
Some students choose to study abroad in the summer, thinking that it will be less expensive or that they don’t have enough room in their schedule to study abroad in the semester. It is usually less expensive to study abroad during the semester compared to the summer. There are also more opportunities for scholarships, immersion, and wider course selection during semester and academic yearlong programs. Also, no one ever said, “I wish I hadn’t studied abroad as long as I did.”
The classroom learning is important, but what you get outside of the classroom is just as impactful. When it comes time for the destination, here are some things about which to think: What cultural activities are available to you? What is the nightlife like? How easy is it for you to get on a plane, bus, or train to go travel around the region?
Katrina Stark, DM
Associate Professor of Business Administration
Coordinator of Study Abroad
1301 20th Street South
Great Falls, MT 59405
Phone: +1 406 791 5332
Fax: +1 406 791 5990