Pre-Abroad Guide: How To Figure Out Where To Study

Photo by Jess Cartwright

Going abroad at Penn State feels like a rite of passage for many students. We crave the enlightening experience of you going away to another country for a semester to study what you’re actually interested in. You want to immerse yourself in another culture, learn about the history of whatever city you choose, and maybe even learn a new language. How, though, do you figure out where the best place is for you to have such an experience? People have a hard enough time trying to decide their major here at Penn State, let alone figure out where they want to spend over four months of their life studying and meeting new people. It is a challenge, so Valley planned out the steps you should take to decide where would work best for you and identified some of the most-loved spots to look into.

Step 1:

Meet with your advisor within the college of your major that has guided you along the way to see what type of program would fit into your academic plans. Then head over to the abroad office on the 4th Floor of the Boucke Building to meet with a peer advisor and an abroad advisor to further narrow down your search.

Step 2:

Once you’ve seen and heard all there is to see and hear from the abroad office, do your own research. Take pamphlets and look through each one until you find a program that you think would work for you. Consider the types of classes you want to take, if you want to be able to travel within the country you’re studying, what kind of climate you want to live in, and how expensive the location is. There are so many aspects to each potential city, so take the time to decide what factors are most important to you.

Step 3:

Speak to everyone you know who has gone abroad to get a sense of their experience and whether or not it is something you would benefit from. Everyone has a different perspective on what they want to get out of being abroad, and while you’ll never replicate another person’s time around the world, their stories and advice could help guide you in the right direction.

Top 5 most popular places to study:

London, England

Barcelona, Spain

Florence, Italy

Prague, Czech Republic

Sydney, Australia

If abroad isn’t for you:

There are many other semester-long options if living in another country doesn’t appeal to you. Internship opportunities are available for current students in most major cities, and Penn State has specific ties to New York and LA. You can move to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, or any other city in the US if you would like to remain in the country. These programs allow you to get out of your comfort zone for a semester by experiencing a new place, meeting new people, and gaining real-world working experience within a programs like these.

To find more information about abroad opportunities, check out the Penn State Undergraduate Admissions Study Abroad website, and make sure to keep track of application deadlines!