How To Study Abroad

Happy 2017! Now that the spring semester has started it is time to start thinking about and applying for study abroad programs!

With deadlines  quickly approaching it can be challenging to know where to start, so here are some tips and tricks on how to study abroad.

If you are interested in a summer or fall 2017 study abroad you should plan on having your application completed and submitted by February 15.

CMU offers over 150 different programs in 40 countries for almost every major. With so many options it seems kind of daunting but there are so many resources on campus to help you.

A quick crash course in the programs offered by CMU:

Faculty-led: These programs are typically shorter in length and they are led by a faculty member. There will be other CMU students on your trip.
Summer: These summer programs range from 2 weeks to the entire length of the summer. Typically, you directly-enroll into the host university and attend classes at that university.
Semester-long: If you are feeling adventurous you can study abroad for the entire fall or spring semester.
Academic year: If you are feeling extra adventurous you can study abroad for the fall and spring semester.

1. Have an idea of where you want to go.

On the study abroad website there is a tab that says “Find a program” which is where you will find every single program offered at CMU listed. You can filter your search by country, major, cost and even the length of stay.

Check out the different options offered before you even go any farther. Educate yourself so that way it will make the process so much easier.

2. Attend a study abroad 101 session.

The study abroad office has a group of ambassadors that have previously studied abroad as a resource for students. I suggest talking to one of the ambassadors before meeting with an adviser so you can get a feel for what study abroad is all about.

I am an ambassador and can honestly say that we have a great group of students who are willing to help you figure out your study abroad because we know how life-changing and amazing it is.

3. Schedule an appointment with one of the study abroad advisers and fill out the study abroad questionnaire.

When you go to the study abroad website you are faced with many different options. One of the most important is scheduling an appointment with a study abroad adviser. Also, side-note, schedule one early in the semester.

They get booked up very quickly and you don’t want to be rushing to submit an application because you waited too long to get into the office. Plus, they are such a great resource and meeting with Hannah or Marko will surely put your mind at ease.

Before you head to your appointment be sure to fill out the study abroad advising questionnaire so Hannah and Marko can best help you.

Questions to ask during this meeting:

What different programs do you have for my major? Which one do you recommend?
Anything associated to the cost so that you are aware.
What are the next steps?

4. Meet with your academic adviser.

Your academic adviser is another person who is important to meet with once you have decided what country you are traveling to. This is not a vacation abroad…it is a study abroad. So you will need to discuss what classes you can take abroad and how you can get those approved to transfer back to CMU.

5. Once you get accepted, learn about the culture of your host country

I can’t stress educating yourself about your host country enough. You will be a guest in this country and you should respect the culture. Don’t show up to a foreign country expecting to be able to do things like you do in America.

For example, when I went to Oaxaca, Mexico Americans are typically seen as loud and disrespectful. So my group was always aware of how we were acting to avoid proving that stereotype.

If you are traveling to South East Asia be aware that they have rules for attire if you are wanting to enter a temple. And in most South American countries be aware that most women dress more conservatively than we do in the US.

Ask your adviser questions like these before you leave:

How have past students immersed themselves in the culture?
How do I contact the office in the even that I run into an issue abroad?
How can I get involved once I get back?
Get excited for the most amazing experience in your entire life!

Studying abroad is truly a life-changing experience if you immerse yourself in your host country.

Stay off your phone and live in the moment when you are abroad. Not many people can say they spent time abroad and it is something that will look so amazing on resumes, so take advantage of every single thing you can do abroad.

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