Study abroad

Study abroad

Studying abroad is the act of a student pursuing educational opportunities in a foreign country. Typically classes taken while studying abroad award credits transferable to higher education institutions in the home country; however, students may pursue these opportunities at any age and may not require college credit. Students studying abroad may live in a dormitory or apartment with other students or with a "host family", a group of people who live in that country and agree to provide student lodging.

Length of study can range from one week, usually during a domestic break, to an academic year.

Topics of study can vary. Some students choose to study abroad in order to learn a language from native speakers. Others may take classes in their academic major in a place that allows them to expand their hands-on experience (e.g. someone who’s studying marine biology studying abroad in Jamaica or a student of sustainable development living and studying in a remote village in Senegal). Still other students may study abroad in order to explore topics within the framework of a different educational system (e.g. a student of English who goes to the United States to study American literature).


In the USA, the act of studying abroad originated at the University of Delaware. In 1923, Professor Raymond W. Kirkbride sent a group of eight students to Paris, France. At the time, the concept of students studying in a different country was incredibly unconventional. Kirkbride's program was originally named the "Foreign Study Plan". For a period of time, study abroad was seen as an option primarily for foreign language students. Recently this has changed, and the scope of study abroad programs has increased greatly. [ [ Study abroad celebrates 75th anniversary ] ]

Why students may study abroad

One of the most common reasons students study abroad is language immersion. Students wanting to learn a language will go to school in a country where that language is spoken, the theory being that immersion into an environment where a particular language is spoken is the best way to learn the language. However, this theory is disputed as result of various surveys [ Stay home - take a course] , Center for journalistisk kompetenceudvikling (UPDATE), 19. april 2005 (Article in Danish). Indeed, many schools require that students majoring in a foreign language study abroad. However, this is more often done through an exchange program (see below).

It could be as simple as students choosing to study abroad due to a feeling of wanderlust. For many, college is the ideal time to travel, because they do not have full adult responsibilities yet, and they can take advantage of the option of studying in a different country. In this sense, many see one's early twenties as formative years in one's life, and being immersed in the unfamiliar society and culture of another country can prove rewarding to young adults.

Another popular reason to study abroad is the desire of many to gain an understanding of the world around them.

Many students study abroad in an effort to expand their opportunities beyond those their home university offers. Strategically, study abroad offers many exciting benefits from high school students hoping to get into a prestigious university, to college learners pursuing reputable post graduate schools or professions. It may lead to scholarships, grants, and job opportunities to leading institutions or employment. Recent survey's in the Nordic countries did however show that studying abroad can heavily damage the career in the years afterward because a stay in foreign countries often result in exams that are rendered unusable in the supervior education systems in these countries [ Abroad or home - what is best?] , Cirius, 30. March 30, 2006 (Article in Danish)

tudy abroad versus exchange

Typically, institutes of higher education refer to Study Abroad programs as programs in which courses are taken (usually for academic credit) in a foreign environment. These could range from students taking courses at a foreign institutions either through direct enrollment or institutional exchange. Some programs, often referred to as "island programs" utilize the professors of the institution that is sending the students.

A Student exchange program implies that the student is being exchanged to the foreign university (and is therefore taking courses with local students taught by local faculty). These definitions, however, are not strictly adhered to. In fact, new terms are constantly being created and used to more accurately describe different types of programs/experiences (e.g. direct enrollment programs, immersion programs, (faculty-led) study trips, etc).

Students can participate in a program through their home university, a study abroad organization, or directly through the foreign university.

Although some colleges and universities prefer their students to study abroad through their programs and credits are most easily transferred in such programs, this can be limiting. The study abroad companies are generally more flexible, can have more available options, and provide an opportunity to be involved in a group of students from all over the country. One extra available option that a study abroad company may offer that a university may not, is the ability to study during the summer in intensive language schools. These language schools focus only on teaching students a foreign language.

The most independent form of studying abroad is directly enrolling in the foreign university. Some foreign universities offer classes with other students studying abroad or some offer their regular courses with the native students. However, the student should be very independent and have a good knowledge of the language in the country.

The financial aspects and expense of studying abroad varies widely. Sometimes, direct enrollment in a foreign university may be less expensive than participating in a home-university run program. Some programs offered through a home university can be substantially less expensive due to fee negotiations and tuition waivers as a result of reciprocity agreements.

Necessary steps to study abroad

Though requirements vary by institution, several steps must be taken in order to study abroad. The first step is to identify a program of interest. Application procedures differ between programs. Students wishing to study abroad must also obtain the necessary travel documents (see below). Documents include a passport, visa, and often certain medical releases. Obtaining visas can be a time consuming process involving lots of paperwork. It is best to begin the visa process well in advance to avoid delays and problems.

Students may also have to make their own lodging arrangements. Some schools maintain residences in foreign countries or at host universities. Other programs may require a student to provide his or her own accommodations. Most students know where they will be staying when they depart, but some students make temporary living arrangements from home and seek a more permanent residence upon arrival. Arranging for a place to live in a foreign country can be made difficult by such problems as language barriers, students' inability to see apartments in person, and differing procedures regarding contracts, deposits, and payments. However, the internet makes remote apartment finding easier, and is thus a good place to start. Advice from other students who have previously studied in the location is also very useful.

Another important step is to learn about the destination, in order to be aware of any potentially jolting differences. Thus, many study abroad programs include compulsory orientation sessions for students that address many of the possible difficulties that will be faced while the students are abroad.

tudying Abroad in Home Country Institutions

It is possible for many individuals to study abroad in an institution attached to their home countries. For example students native to Britain can study French in Paris at the University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP). This has the advantage that they get a degree recognised in their own country but get the experience of pursuing their studies in a foreign country. Similarly Americans can study aborad at a institution like the American University in Paris.

tudy Abroad Consultants

In different countries students wishing to study abroad seek help with study abroad consultants. Study Abroad consultants have contracts with different universities and colleges in different countries, so these consultants act as representatives of these institutions. The role of these consultants is to give details about course, fee structures, fee payments procedures, scholarships options of intended institution, help students with application procedures, and they also guide about visa process of the intended country.

Financial aid for American students studying abroad

Amendments made in 1992 to the Higher Education Act of 1965, TITLE VI, SEC. 601-604 [ [ Section 601 - 1998 Amendments to Higher Education Act of 1965 ] ] in the U.S. ruled that students can receive financial aid for study abroad if they are enrolled in a program that is approved by their home institution and would be eligible to receive government funding without regard to whether the study abroad program is required as a part of the student's degree. Federal law also states that financial aid can cover all "reasonable" costs for a study abroad program, including:
*Round-trip transportation for the approved program
*Tuition and fees for the program
*Living costs incurred during the program
*Passport and visa fees
*Health insurance To get government aid, students must complete the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). Funds are awarded by the United States Department of Education. As long as the issuing institution pre-approves the credit to be earned abroad, federal aid can be used toward study abroad programs.

Eligibility criteria for U.S. government aid

*Be enrolled in an eligible (Title IV) institution as a regular student seeking a degree or certificate (This is your home institution, not the overseas school/institution.)
*Be a citizen of the United States with a valid Social Security number
*Have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate
*If you are a male, you must be registered for Selective Service
*Have a result of Eligible or Partially Eligible on question 35 (drug-related conviction) of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Forms of government aid

*Stafford Loan (FFEL)
*PLUS Loan
*Perkins Loan
*Pell Grant

Other financing options

Private student loans

Private student loans are not guaranteed by a government agency, but generally offer higher loan limits, grace period with no payments due until after graduation, and base availability on credit history vs. financial need. Private loans are a good option:
*If federal financial aid doesn't cover all study abroad tuition, living arrangements, and/or transportation costs
*If a student is not eligible for federal financial aid
*If a student is not currently enrolled in a U.S. college or university


Scholarships are offered by a number of organizations and foundations. Scholarships, like government grants, can be highly competitive, because students aren't required to repay the money awarded. Because of this uncertainty, it is not the most reliable method for paying for study abroad. Research into available scholarships and private grants should be initiated well in advance of a student's planned travel date, and/or private or government aid should also be sought.

ee also

*Study abroad organization
*Student exchange program


External links

* [ Studying Abroad QnA]
* [ Annotated list of selected study abroad web sites from the University of Michigan]
*dmoz|Reference/Education/International/Study_Abroad|Studying abroad
* [ Study language abroad] , information page for Danish youth considering studying abroad, "Center Validering"

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