You’ve heard of studying abroad and that’s cool and all, but what if you don’t have the ability to spend a summer or semester in another country? The finances? The mental preparedness to be away from home and everything you know? The good thing is that college offers so many ways to get involved in learning about this world without having to leave the country. Or you could simply take advantage of international opportunities in addition to studying abroad. Or maybe you don’t want a traditional study abroad program. There are so many different situations and lots of solutions.
- Traditional Study Abroad — This is something I plan on doing myself in 2018! I think the opportunity to live and study in another country while also having the backbone of your campus and students from your school is the perfect combination. You’re not completely alone, but you’re also able to make the experience as independent to you as you would like. Plus, this route offers you the most options in terms of places to go, things to study, earning college credit, etc. Other options may have idiosyncratic requirements and could be more specific than the broad curriculums of study abroad programs.
- Volunteer Work/Student Exchanges/Language Programs — I decided to lob these altogether because they all fit under the umbrella of non-traditional study abroad programs. You would still go live in another country for a period of time but you might be studying a critical language, be an exchange student at a foreign university where you’re essentially by yourself, or participating in some sort of volunteer effort. All of these programs tend to be highly specific in their agenda, requirements and availability. However, the specificity may tailor more to your needs if traditional study abroad seems to broad or conventional to you. The best way to look into programs like these is by going to either a Fellowships office or a Global and Multicultural office on campus. We have both centers at my school and they are easily accessible with a variety of programs that are only through their departments.
- International Events — Like I said – maybe going abroad isn’t something you are ready for yet. Trust me, I know the feeling. The one thing I want to do is travel, yet I am a huge homebody and don’t know how leaving my family for so long will work out! Even with these hesitations, you can still become a worldly, cultured person in college, whether or not you step outside the country. With a Global and Multicultural Center on campus, there are so many events that end up taking place. A weekly event that I have frequented pretty often is International Coffee Hour. On Fridays, students are invited to get coffee and a snack that are from that week’s country. The best part is that a lot of international students that attend my school also attend this event! You learn so much and make many friends. I find it being a very easy environment to interact with people since the whole point you are there is to learn about other cultures and meet new friends! Look out for other events too – nation-themed luncheons, guest speakers, etc.
- Research — This is something I know a lot about and it is quite an untraditional route to take to going abroad. Participating in research opens a lot of doors to going abroad; conferences, grant research, etc. There are lots of conferences domestic and international that both prompt you to visit new places and gain academic experiences that could further your career. There’s also an abundance of grants related to research that allow you to go abroad – check out the Fulbright programs and grants within your academic departments.
I’m so excited for my opportunity to go abroad during college and I hope others get their chance, whatever path they take to get there! Don’t miss out on valuable opportunities that your school has for you!