Going Abroad: What To Keep In Mind

Hankins.AbroadGoing to Penn State means that we have the world at our fingertips, and not in the metaphorical sense. Studying abroad is highly encouraged at this university, and that might be why the Global Programs website provides students with a mind blowing list of over 250 countries with available study abroad programs.

So, you’ve decided that you eventually want to study abroad. After all, why wouldn’t you? The university is providing a once in a lifetime, educationally and personally enriching experience, and the faculty of the Global Programs office will help you throughout the entire process. Although this help is offered, it obviously takes a lot of effort and responsibility on the student’s part, too.

A detailed list of the steps to studying abroad is on the University Office of Global Programs website, but for those of you who just want a few key things to remember and tips for the process, we’ve got you covered: 1. Time is of the essence.

But seriously, though. As much as you’d like to pack your bags and head to Italy on a whim, it’s impossible when it comes to studying abroad. Nimisha Thakur, an Education Abroad adviser at Penn State, suggests that students should start planning their study abroad process at least a year in advance. “Sometimes, by the time a student really thinks they want to apply, they’ve probably missed a deadline and can’t go through Penn State,” Thakur says. Don’t be let down or scrambling to get things done. The earlier, the better!

2. When you’ve decided that you want to study abroad, the next question you have to ask yourself is, “where do I want to spend an entire semester of college?” And it’s tougher than you think, unless you’re absolutely in love with a certain country.

According to Thakur, over 70 percent of Penn State students who study abroad go to Western Europe. The more nontraditional countries, like in Asia and the Middle East, are much less popular, but usually cheaper than the traditional countries. It’s a big decision, but you have help.

3. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, talk to the peer advisors in the Global Programs office who are available every day in Bouke (on Pollock Road) to help students.

“[Peer advisors] can talk to you for hours about their experience, what you’re expecting and what your goals are for studying abroad. It’s a really great resource,” Thakur says. If you plan on taking advantage of this awesome opportunity that the university provides to us, remember to do it right so you get the best experience possible and avoid stress. You’ll be thankful once the day comes to hop on a plane and head towards a life-changing endeavor.


Photo by Tyler Hankins

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