Things to Consider Before You Study Abroad

Last Updated on August 20, 2023 by Natalie

Growing up, I had always dreamed to study abroad. The idea of living and studying in a foreign country was romanticized within me since day one of watching the iconic Lizzie McGuire movie. I was ready to go abroad, meet my Paolo, and become an Italian pop star!!

Embarking on a journey of studying abroad is a thrilling adventure filled with anticipation, new experiences, and the promise of personal growth. It’s a chance to immerse oneself in a foreign culture, broaden horizons, and create memories that last a lifetime. However, as with any grand voyage, there are bound to be twists and turns along the way.

Here are a few tips to consider before you study abroad.

1. Studying Abroad is a challenge

Living in a new city and studying abroad is a wonderful experience, but it’s not always easy.

Relocating to a foreign country for an extended period of time is a hard thing to do, but you can do it!

You’re leaving your friends, family, pets, and there will be many things you will miss out on. It’s a matter of missing out on some things and trading your home experiences for a new adventure.

2. Application Processes can be tricky.

There are several factors that go into the decision process of studying abroad, many of them being out of your control. Your age, school connections, costs, and what you’re studying are just to name a few.

These were certainly things I didn’t think about when I filled out my study abroad application.

You can have everything you think you need to study abroad, but could still get your application denied for not being a proper fit.

3. You may not get the top destination of your choice.

As I just mentioned, there are so many factors that go into the decision-making process of studying abroad.

Decisions are being made by you, your college, and your financial circumstances.

In the end, your study abroad location could likely be a compromise. Just be happy that you are going to experience an entirely different life and focus on what you will gain from it.

4. Go with an open mind.

Going into my study abroad program, my expectations were too high. Problems will arise during your time abroad and it won’t always be perfect. You will grow so much from this experience!

Try new foods, make new friends, and try not to compare things to your home country.

5. Spend time in your study abroad city.

This was one of my biggest mistakes! I’m an American, and flights are insanely expensive in the US. So what I was most excited about studying in the UK were the wicked cheap flights across Europe.

While I loved getting to explore new countries I had never been to before, I felt that I missed out a lot on the local life of my study-abroad city. Additionally, there were many times when I’d miss out on college outings because I opted to travel on the weekends, which in the end resulted in fewer friendships.

Before you Study Abroad: make a list of what you want to gain from this experience.

Are you wanting to live like a local? Try as many different foods and learn about the architecture? Visit as many neighboring countries as possible? The opportunities are endless!

If your university doesn’t offer study abroad opportunities, there are plenty of outside companies that offer educational trips. These trips may even transfer over as elective credit hours to your major – it never hurts to check!

IES Abroad


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  1. My sophomore year of college I was suppose to study abroad in Ireland but ended up having to switch programs. Wish I would have had the chance!

    1. Oh no I am so sorry! That’s definitely one of the tech issues with studying abroad. Not all credits transfer well, making some programs not suitable for studying abroad :/

  2. I worked with study abroad students for over a decade and you have identified some great points for a successful experience. Attitude is key. Managing expectations is super important and being able to adapt to local conditions will make your time abroad much more positive.

  3. Very insightful tips to keep in mind while traveling abroad. It can also be applied if you’re just plain traveling to one place or another as traveling can also be a way of studying and learning different cultures and places.

  4. You’re so lucky to have had the opportunity to study abroad! Out of curiosity, how did you choose where to study abroad? When I see all the study abroad options at my university I don’t evne know where you’d start! There are so many options!

    1. Hey Ella! Yes, I feel incredibly lucky to have studied abroad. So at first glance, I felt overwhelmed with options too. But actually as I dove into the process, I found out that I really only had one place I could choose from where the credits for my program would transfer completely, which was in England. So my choice was kind of paved for me. I would recommend your first step is to meet with your study abroad office, and a head advisor from your major department. You may find the case that the options aren’t as broad as you expected them to be, because you definitely want as many credits to transfer as possible!

  5. I get all of these points! I studied in the Netherlands for 8 months, and being from NZ, the idea of being in Europe and having the accessibility to such cheap flights meant I spent more time travelling around Europe than I did the Netherlands haha! Nevertheless, I had an amazing experience and glad you did too!

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