Preview 2014 in the Aran Islands, Galway, Ireland. Courtesy of Jennifer Kocsis (pictured).
Preview 2014 in the Aran Islands, Galway, Ireland. Courtesy of Jennifer Kocsis (pictured).

How to Plan for Study Abroad

Before I even left London, I knew I wanted to come back for my junior year.

The First-year Study Abroad Experience (FYSAE) was life-changing, and it immediately became my goal to study abroad for the entire 2015-16 academic year. As soon as the FYSAE program ended and I returned home from London, I began looking at Arcadia’s study abroad website to learn about which programs I might be able to participate in. I spent hours doing research, weighing pros and cons of different programs by location, courses, and cost. I determined what academic requirements I had already taken care of, and what I still needed to graduate. It was overwhelming; I hadn’t even yet started my second semester of college, and I was already thinking about graduating. I took a step back, knowing I had plenty of time and resources to help me before I took off out of the country again. I did not, however, stop thinking about my goal and shaping it to fit my needs.

Recently, I decided now is the time to get the ball rolling again. So I attended a study abroad information session, then made myself an appointment with my study abroad adviser in the Office of International Affairs (OIA).

By the time my OIA meeting was drawing closer, I felt very prepared. I had narrowed my options down to one program, I was aware of the costs and the fact that my scholarships and financial aid would go towards them, and my experience with FYSAE meant that I was aware of the extra costs that would be my responsibility. I had learned that FYSAE and an individual study abroad experience are different in that the latter is so much more independent. With FYSAE, I traveled with the entire group of students, travel card costs were reimbursed, and we all lived together in the same house. When I study abroad my junior year things will be different in those aspects, because it’s not a group trip, and I was prepared with that knowledge, too. My adviser was impressed with the amount of effort I had put into my research, but that didn’t mean I knew all there is to know. She told me about potential scholarships to apply for, deadlines for certain applications to keep in mind, and finally what my next step would be: researching courses I would be interested in taking abroad and meeting with my academic adviser to approve them and determine their AU equivalence. I am very early in the process still, but it really feels like I am on my way and as prepared as I can be. While part of this is due to my persistent research over the past year, it is also thanks to my study abroad adviser.

At Arcadia, a study abroad adviser is with you every step of the way when you plan your trip, answering questions and guiding you through the process, from narrowing down a location or program to submitting the application. It seems long and scary at first, but if you start early, it won’t be as overwhelming. If you already have answers to some of the basic questions like what program of study you are in, where you want to go, and/or when you want to go, that’s great. If the only thing you know for sure is that you want to study out of the country at some point, that’s okay, too, because there are so many people here at Arcadia who will help you figure out the answers. My adviser said that each student planning to study abroad has a team of advisers to help them, including a study abroad adviser from OIA, and an adviser from The College of Global Studies. These people want to help you fulfill your goals and see you off on your next adventure.

Editor’s Note: The Institute of International Education’s 2014 Open Doors Report ranked Arcadia #1 in study abroad among U.S. universities for the fifth consecutive year. Read more in The Bulletin.
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