Study abroad programs provide many benefits to students, and a wide variety of programs are available. Learning about new cultures, being immersed into a new language, and familiarization with new methods of learning are just a few of the benefits that have lasting impacts on students who choose to study in a foreign country.
Study abroad is available at both the high school and college levels. While some students travel to another country to engage in a particular course of study for a semester or longer, others simply engage in workshops or seminars that last for shorter time periods.
Students are immersed into the new culture through housing opportunities at host family homes or by sharing local apartments or dormitory rooms. Students not only learn about the subjects which they are studying, but they also gain knowledge and insight about the country, its government, its founding and history, and other important aspects of the country. Most programs require students to provide proof of minimum grade point averages, submit good references, and perform well in interviews prior to admission to study abroad programs.
There are many different types of study abroad programs. Some examples include:
- Academic Year/Semester Programs: Students travel to a foreign country and study for an entire academic year or a single semester.
- Summer Programs: Students study in a foreign country for a few weeks during the summer.
- Internship: University-level students travel to foreign countries in order to work in real-world environments in a different culture.
- Intensive Language Programs: Students who wish to become more proficient in the language of their choice travel to a host country and learn language fluency through experience.
- Teach Abroad Programs: Students who have acquired their undergraduate degrees travel to other nations with the intention to teach students and learn about their school systems.
- Volunteer Programs: Students spend time in another country working on volunteer projects. These programs usually have a rolling admission and the length and time period that students may travel will vary based on projects and need.
- Full Degree Program: Students spend significant time in another country studying to acquire an entire undergraduate degree.
- Graduate Program: Students engage in studies toward an advanced degree while in a foreign nation.
- High School Program: Students in grades nine through 12 travel to another nation, stay with a host family, and attend a semester or two of high school.
- Intersession Program: Students travel to another country to study during the winter or spring break.
Many study abroad programs are subject-based programs. For instance, students interested in art may engage in a program that takes them to Europe to study the great artists and their contributions to society. Other students study literature and travel to England. Ballet students might choose to travel to Russia. Others choose particular subjects that are encountered in other nations.
All study abroad programs involve sending students to safe locations with established itineraries and plans. Locations that are involved in wartime, are known for being dangerous, or regularly have violence erupt are off limits for study abroad programs.
Housing for students involved in study abroad programs varies. High school students often stay with host families for the duration of their trips. Host families must undergo background checks to determine whether the environment of their home is a safe one for children. A clean criminal history of everyone in the family, along with an interview in the home, is required prior to approval as a host family. Staying with a host family provides high school-aged students the opportunity to live safely in another country and to experience the culture of family life firsthand.
College-age students often stay in apartments they share with other exchange students. The apartments are located in the heart of the community in which they are studying. Through staying in an apartment, students get the chance to experience living on their own in a foreign country. Also, some programs are individual study programs, while others provide opportunities for students to travel with a group.
There are many reasons that students may engage in study abroad programs:
- It’s a great opportunity for students to globalize themselves and learn about foreign languages and cultures.
- It’s a challenge for students because they must overcome currency confusion, travel methods, cultural differences, and homesickness.
- Experiences overseas are great resume boosters for employment back home or for college applications.