Houston, TX  |  Change Location »




6 Things To Consider Before Studying Oversees

Studying overseas can be a hugely rewarding experience for people of any age and is often looked on very favorably by future employers. Being able to adapt to a different environment shows resourcefulness and flexibility, traits which are both highly valued in the workplace. Here are some points to consider before making a final decision on whether to try it or not.

How Long to Go For?

Most institutions offer study opportunities of varying durations. Two weeks is usually the minimum and a year is usually the maximum. Going for a longer period may be more expensive, but allows for a more in depth experience, particularly if one of the goals of the trip is to learn the language. Going for a shorter period may actually be more challenging in terms of maintaining academic continuity. It should also be kept in mind that students undertaking joint majors may find it more of a challenge to satisfy both departments when going abroad.

An Integrated Year or A Year Out?

An integrated year is one where the year is counted as part of the student's continual studies. A year out, as the name suggests, is a year where the study is counted as an extra year, although the student gains academic credit for it. Although this adds an extra year to the course (with the associated expense), it may be easier than trying to juggle the academic requirements of two different institutions, particularly if studying in a foreign language.

How Much Will it Cost?

This is a crucial question. Some expenses will be obvious, such as flights and adequate insurance; others may be less obvious or may depend on circumstances. For example, it may be possible to stay in dedicated student accommodation or with a host family. The former may be cheaper but the latter may give a greater insight into the culture of the host nation.

Some expenses may be avoidable with a little forward planning. For instance, many banks levy foreign transaction fees on overseas transactions. These are either flat fees, or (more commonly) a percentage charge and are applied every time a debit or credit card is used abroad. Students going abroad for a whole year may be able to open a local bank account. For those going for shorter periods, it may be possible to get around these charges by opening an account in the US with a bank which has international branches in the host country so as to be able to withdraw cash without charges. Alternatively, it may be possible to buy a prepaid card in the currency of the host country and then load it up with funds as and when required.

It's also important to remember all the small expenses which can add up. These can include everything from travel injections to appropriate clothing and travel adaptors for electric equipment.

What is the Language of Study?

Many institutions abroad offer courses in English but some expect students to work in the local language. There may be some degree of allowance made for them (for example extra time in exams) but the onus is on the student to produce work of an appropriate quality. Even if the institution does allow the option of studying in English, if it is located in a country where another language is spoken, then the student will need to get to grips with that language.

How Easy is it to Keep in Touch with the People at Home?

This will depend on many factors. For example, if there is a significant time difference between the two countries, phone calls may be difficult to schedule. Even if there isn't, landline phone calls may be expensive and cellphone calls even more so. Internet calling is free, but requires internet access. In many countries internet access is either free or very cheap and widely available, however this is worth checking before going abroad. Alternatively, smartphone users can put the Skype application on their mobile to make calls from WIFI hotspots. This will provide the convenience of a cellphone without the international calling bills. Also be aware that some countries have restrictions on well known social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Email will work pretty much everywhere.

How Easy is it to Stock Up on Essentials?

The definition of essentials will vary from person to person, however be aware that items which may be common in one country, may be unavailable, expensive or even banned in others. This is particularly true of medication. Over the counter medication which is perfectly legal in one country, may be illegal in its neighbor. For that reason, it is best to leave medication at home unless it's on prescription, in which case check the legality with the embassy of the host country before leaving. Other common items where people often notice a difference between items in their home country and those abroad are: feminine hygiene products, contraceptives, cigarettes and chocolate."

Ian Wright works with Expert Market Fleet Management a leading provider of vehicle tracking for small and medium sized businesses. When not working he enjoys traveling the world and now can't live without his iPad.

Image credit: Jirka Matousek on Flickr

Comment using Facebook


Recent Education Headlines