An 11 a.m. art history class in Paris, France. Lunch far from the overpriced HUB salads at a café in Rome. Spending a weekend afternoon not napping in bed, but on a beach in Australia. Whatever your study abroad dreams may be, the daunting task of getting down to the nitty gritty of planning may scare even the biggest dreamers into procrastination. With this breakdown of the steps to take, we hope that planning your trip is a little bit less stressful.
VALLEY suggests that you start cracking into these steps around a year before you plan on studying; so if you’re planning on studying in the spring of your junior year, it would be ideal to start planning in the first semester of your sophomore year—this way you have more time to make sure your experience is the best that it can be.
Talk it Out
However simple it may seem, getting started can be the hardest step of the bunch. VALLEY’s best advice? Don’t overthink it. This stage in planning is all about exploring your options. Attend a Study Abroad 101 session hosted every Wednesday at 12:30 or 4 p.m. in 410 Boucke, and, for even more information, visit drop-in hours with a peer adviser to discuss the start of your process with someone who’s already been through it all.
Take Your Pick
Now with a a general idea in mind, next in line is to find the program that works best for you. The Program Search on Global Penn State allows easy access to the many programs that Penn State offers. Here is when you should think about aspects like where you want to study, the semester you would like to go abroad, the length of time you want to spend abroad, the price of the program, the type of housing you’re interested in and which classes are offered.
Plan, Advise, Repeat
After choosing the program that best fits what you want to get out of going abroad, there’s a series of advisers to consult. First, meet up with your academic adviser to review your planned classes for abroad, and to make sure that your time abroad fits into your long-term academic plan. Next, schedule an appointment with your college’s Global Programs Representative, who can help make sure that the program you choose is tailored to your major. Finally, set up a meeting with an Education Abroad Adviser specific to the location you choose to study in. They are available to discuss the in-depth details of your chosen program.
Cost and Funding
Though you’ve already taken cost into consideration when searching for a program, now you should start looking into the specifics of funding your trip. Luckily there’s many scholarships available that can help to cover the cost of classes, living and other extra expenses.
Brian Davis is a Penn State senior majoring in African American Studies, and an education abroad peer adviser on campus. Davis believes in studying abroad as much as possible, and, proving that he’s practiced exactly what he’s preached, Davis has studied abroad in five locations throughout his undergraduate career, including Australia and Curaçao. Davis has some advice for any student worried about the cost of taking their studies overseas.
“There’s so many scholarships available to students, especially if you look at all of the different resources on campus,” Davis says. “The College of Liberal Arts has so many, the programs themselves have so many, and always look within your own major as well.”
Search scholarships listed on Global Penn State’s website and beyond, and talk to your adviser about other opportunities available within your specific college.
All About Applying
Click the “Apply Now” button found at the bottom of your program’s page and begin to fill out the application. Be sure to carefully fill out each question and to choose the correct semester you wish to study abroad. The sooner you apply, the better, and Global Penn State recommends that you send in your application before the deadline for Early Decision.
Take a deep breath because you’re all set. By this step you should be accepted into your program of choice and searching “must visit restaurants in Barcelona” on Google. But studying abroad is about more than eating out overseas.
“In order to understand the world, we have to actually see the world instead of reading about it in a textbook,” Davis says. “You never realize how much that you could really learn about yourself in places far outside of your own, usual reality.”
Deadlines for applications for spring 2019 begin in May for first priority, so be sure to visit Global Penn State with a large coffee and a stress ball. Use these steps to plan your trip of a lifetime.
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