A large number of students begin their college careers with the intention of studying abroad. Nearly 60% expect to continue studying a foreign language. Just under half want to study abroad. By the time they are entering college, 98% have had language courses, and about half have traveled overseas. Once these students get into college, only 7% of college students actually take language courses. Only 3% end up studying overseas.
58% of American college students who studied abroad chose to study in Europe. This was followed by Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. All are all growing. Although part of the decline in European travel can be explained by the decreasing value of the U.S. dollar, length, seems to be an issue as well. Most students who studied abroad in the 2005/06 school year chose to participate in short-term programs: 52% of students participated in short-term programs 37% of students studying abroad participated in semester study. 5.5% of students spent a full academic or calendar year abroad.
Most study abroad programs either make travel arrangements for you or guide you to group rates. It can be cheaper to buy a round-trip ticket than two one-way fares. You may have to pay a surcharge to change the date of the return trip. Students who plan to roam around their host country after the program should check out open-jaw fares. These allow departures from cities other than the arrival point.
Students can use domestic credit or debit cards to exchange currency and get cash. This works especially well in an emergency. There will be usage charges (up to 5%). Some prepaid credit cards allow you to reload the account and track your spending. Once again, there are significant fees. If you are spending an extended time abroad, the least expensive option might be to open a local account.
Almost every country outside the United States uses GSM cell phone technology. Wait to buy a phone abroad – one you buy in the U.S. may not work once you’re overseas. GSM operates on different frequencies around the world. The more frequency bands your phone works on, the more flexibility you’ll have, The Internet offers a great way to stay in touch. There are internet cafes available all over the world. Keep in mind; you may end up in a remote location with no internet access.
High school may not be too early to start thinking about studying abroad. When you are looking at colleges, ask about their international programs. The student’s age, linguistic ability, needs, maturity, and academics will determine what is available to a student.
The application process for studying abroad may be lengthy. Begin early. You may need recommendations, a required amount of time at college, a minimum GPA, travel documents such as a student visa and passport, writing an essay, and passing a test. Short programs may require little documentation or preparation.
If you have chosen to study abroad, you must remember to have an open mind. When you get where you are going, things will be different than at home. It gets easier the longer you are there, but you have to be open to cultural views. Be prepared for the unexpected. Get involved in the host community. There’s a tendency for students to seek out other U.S. students from a linguistics point of view. Keep this to a minimum. Find out how to get involved with native speakers. It will benefit you socially and academically
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