"Study abroad was the best decision I have made! It helped me to become a strong, independent person who can withstand any challenge. I now have a clear vision of my career goals and a well-developed idea for what I want to do with graduate school. This isn't the last time I'll be abroad; it's only the beginning!"
- Dian Bagent
Choosing a study abroad experience is much like choosing a university; you need to consider which program fits your academic and personal needs, background and financial situation. The Office of International Programs is ready to assist you in the process, but the choice is ultimately yours. Here are some factors to consider when making your choice:
Is there a place that has always fascinated me? Will I be comfortable with the culture and laws of that country? Do I prefer a big city or a smaller city? Am I looking for a small program or to be immersed in a large university? What do I know about the academic system in that country?
What am I trying to achieve? Am I mainly interested in language acquisition? An international perspective on my major? An intercultural experience? An adventure? Career skills? A resume builder? Use the Study Abroad Goals worksheet to identify your goals for your study abroad program.
Am I looking for courses to fulfill my major, minor, core, general education or elective requirements? Do I know what I still need to complete my SIUE degree? When is the best time for students in my major to study abroad?
You should see your academic advisor to find out what type of credits are necessary to finish your degree at SIUE. When you meet with a study abroad advisor, it will be important to know which specific SIUE requirements you hope to fulfill through study abroad.
Is a semester or academic year abroad practical for my major? Would a short-term program fit better? Do the dates of the programs I am considering conflict with SIUE semester dates or my summer internship? Am I planning to graduate in the near future?
Regardless of your major, there's a way to make study abroad fit within your academic schedule and still graduate on time! It is important to think about how the duration of your study abroad experience will affect the achievement of your goals.
Do I understand what is and is not included in the program fee? What will be my personal costs for things such as a passport, visa, transportation, etc.? How will my current financial aid apply toward study abroad? Have I investigated whether there are other scholarships available?
A good way to think about cost would be to ask, how much does it cost for me to study and live at SIUE for any given semester? Alternatively, how much will it cost for me to study and live while I am abroad? It is important to consider how much you and your family are willing to spend as well as what sources of outside funding are available.
There are many scholarships available including the SIUE Ambassador Scholarship as well as the federally-funded Gilman Scholarship for those students who are receiving a Pell Grant. Have you talked to your parents about the potential costs of study abroad and their willingness and ability to support you?
Do I want to live with a host family, in a student residence, or in an apartment shared with Americans/locals/other international students?
Check the useful websites page to research various countries and information related to living/studying abroad.
Research Your Options
After learning about each of the factors you should consider when thinking about study abroad - academics, duration, location, housing and cost - it is time to reflect upon the following question, "What do you want your study abroad experience to be?"
When answering this question you should be able to formulate a sentence that addresses all of the factors mentioned above. As an example, your sentence could look like this: When I study abroad, I would like to study in Argentina at a local university for a semester, while taking courses in my major and living with a host family. It is important to me that the cost of the program is comparable to what I pay as a student at SIUE.Begin Your Search.