Study Abroad Information
>What to look for in a study abroad program
Look for a program that fits into your schedule. Some programs last just a few weeks, some last the whole summer, and others may last a whole year. Search for one that is the length that you are looking for and find out about start and end dates to make sure they fit into your life.
Look for a program that will integrate you into the culture. Make sure that you will be living with native speakers. Many programs house you in homes of local families.
Ask if the program offers opportunities to meet locals. I was in a program in Spain that paired local students who were studying English with study abroad students who were learning Spanish. It was a great opportunity to make friends with local students and practice the language. My friend and I alternated days that we spoke English and Spanish so that we each had a chance to learn from each other.
Also, ask if the study abroad program offers organized trips. Sometimes you can do weekend trips to local sites right through your study abroad program. A study abroad program that I worked with in San Diego offered classes in the morning and excursions in the afternoons.
Make sure that your study abroad program will offer you support both before going and while in the country. You will need support in preparing for your study abroad experience (visas, shots, etc.). You will also need help after you get there (emergencies, advice). Make sure you will have a contact person in the city that you will be studying in.
Finally, check into the academic standards of the program. Do they use a certain teaching method? Do they have any accreditations? Most importantly, ask about the teachers' qualifications. Do they have standards of minimum teaching experience, degree, etc.?
You may need to check into financial aid packages available for your program. See if you can get loans or scholarships for the program that you are interested in.
Go with a program with a good reputation. Talk to people who have gone on the program. Ask about what their experiences were. Do some research on the web to learn more about the program.