October 27, 2014
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By: Emma Perrin @emma_perrin17
For as long as I can remember, it’s been a dream of mine to study abroad. By the time I began my journey at Ohio University last fall, my longing for adventure had already kicked in and I immediately began researching how I could make my dreams of international study a reality. I was recently accepted into a study abroad program in Barcelona, Spain for spring semester, and I couldn’t be more excited! But I’m quickly realizing that living abroad for 4 months is a big responsibility that requires a great deal of planning. Below are a few tips based on my own experience for anyone who is interested in taking the steps toward making their own travel dreams come true!
- Getting Started. Your first step should be to meet with one of the advisers in the Office of Education Abroad. They can offer valuable guidance when it comes to building the experience that will be right for you. They’re always willing to answer questions about the study abroad process (which can at times be a little overwhelming), so don’t hesitate to utilize this valuable resource!
- Funding. Studying abroad can be a huge financial investment, but it’s more doable than a lot of people think. Ohio University offers a large number of study abroad programs, which students can apply university financial aid, and they also offer other scholarships to help fund the costs of studying abroad. With a little extra research, students can find assistance from outside sources as well, such as national awards, blogging and photography scholarships, and help from local organizations like rotary clubs.
- Passport/Visa. If you’ve never traveled abroad before, getting a passport should be very high on your to-do list. Generally, it takes 5-7 weeks upon application to receive a passport, so don’t delay! If you wait, you could run the risk of not getting a passport in time. Also, many countries require visas to live there for an entire semester, which also take about a month to process. In the case of Spain, visa applicants from Ohio must travel to the Spanish Consulate in Chicago to apply in person. While such processes vary from country to country, it’s worth checking out early so as not to run into any conflicts!
- Classes. While the adventure of moving to another country for a few months is exciting, you have to remember that you are going to study! When you are deciding on a program, make sure that they offer classes that you will be able to put toward your degree. Plan to meet with a transfer adviser in your college who can help you determine which classes can transfer to Ohio University credits. Make their job easier by being prepared for that meeting: Print out the syllabi for the courses you plan to take abroad (which should be available online) and take them with you.
- Research, research, research! Take some time to get to know the country and city that you will call home for a semester! Consider things like what immunizations you may need and the country’s currency exchange rate. However, also use the time before you depart to get excited about experiencing the food, music and history of another culture! Knowing what to expect will help you feel less nervous when it’s time to board your flight, and will help you feel more at home when you get there.
Traveling is a wonderful way to broaden your horizons and gain perspective on the world and your place in it. If it’s your dream to study abroad, it’s never too early to get started!