Studying abroad can be one of the most rewarding experiences in a student’s academic career, but it is one that might seem daunting at first. How much will it cost? Will I delay my graduation? Where can I go? How long do I go for? These are perhaps some of the most common questions and rightly so!
The first thing you need to do when you want to study abroad is think about what kind of experience you want to have while you are away by asking yourself:
- How long do I want to be gone?
- When do I want to go?
- Where do I want to go?
- What do I want to study?
Once you have answered these questions, you can start planning your trip! The following are some helpful tips!
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“How long do I want to be gone?”
A good first place to start might be length of study.
Summer Programs- USFSP summer programs range in length from 3 to 6 weeks during the May to August period. Program dates vary but each are designed to maximize student exposure to their host cultures while providing an intensive academic study. In most cases, some lectures will be conducted on campus before and after the trip as well as exams and projects to be coordinated with the faculty director on-site in their host country.
Semester Programs- Fall and spring full semester programs allow students to truly integrate into their host culture and attend institutes, colleges, and universities overseas with other foreign and local students. In most cases, student may take courses from a range of majors as varied as the USF catalogue. A semester abroad is a truly enriching experience allowing you to truly acculturate to your host country. It allows you the opportunity to get to know the people and culture as well as see and experience your discipline from a different perspective. These programs are offered though the USF Education Abroad Office in Tampa and through the USFSP Education Abroad Office.
Each program length has its own advantages and you should consider first and foremost the kind of experience you want to have. Summer programs offer students a taste of a different culture, and can easily fit with a student’s schedule and responsibilities at home. Semester programs allow a student to fully integrate into a host culture, and can be more cost effective in the long run.
“When do I want to go?”
No matter the end result it is always best to plan early. Everyone’s schedule is different so this is something you really need to think about. It is always a good idea to go to your major’s academic advisor and talk about your desire to go abroad so they can help you make room in your schedule. The earlier you have this conversation the easier it is to make sure you stay on track for graduation. This includes saving some of your electives for the summer or semester programs.
USFSP students interested in summer or short-term programs are welcomed at any stage of their education. The only requirement is that students be at least 18 years old at the time of participation (certain exception can be made with parental consent for younger students enrolled at USF).
Students looking to go abroad for a semester must have at least sophomore standing the first semester they are away. Graduating seniors may not go abroad in their last semester as grades often take two or more months to properly transfer from overseas. Sophomore and junior year are the most popular times for students to study for a full semester.
Graduate students are advised to check with their departments as required courses are often only taught on campus during certain parts of the year. Scheduling and logistics for alternative-calendar programs such as independent research, field work, medical rotations, special projects and internships should be a collaborative effort between the student, their department, and the Education Abroad Office.
“Where do I want to go?”
Make sure that the program you are choosing not only fulfils your academic desire, but also your desire to experience a different culture abroad.
“What do I want to study?”
Depending on what academic requirements you are looking to fulfill can greatly influence the program you select. Our summer programs have a variety of available courses but they are limited by what faculty are going. Students should check the individual program pages and descriptions to see what classes are offered on these short programs. Students should always speak with the academic department they are looking to get credit from to be sure how these summer courses will transfer back to USFSP.
Semester programs offer students the greatest selection of courses as the entire course catalogue of the foreign school is normally open to students studying for a semester or a year. That being said, students may be limited in language of instruction in the case of countries where English is not the primary language; in most, courses are available in English but students should investigate their school of choice
“Tips for Planning”
Each student’s academic career is different. Students should work with their academic advisors throughout the process of studying abroad. Only your advisor can tell you what courses will count towards your degree.
Tip 1: Plan early. Talk to your academic advisor in advance about your desire to study abroad.
Tip 2: Saving one or two electives for use abroad.
Tip 3: Fulfilling language requirements (basic to advanced).
Tip 4: Which courses must be taken on campus and which can be replaced by external courses.
Tip 5: Areas of the world and schools of excellence within your discipline.
Tip 6: Major specific grants and scholarships for international study.
Our office is here to help any way we can. If you or your advisor have any questions or concerns, our staff is here to address them. Please feel free to contact us.
For more questions you can e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org