Study Abroad 101 – Part I

Thinking about studying abroad? Here are some of the questions you should ask yourself before you study abroad!

WHAT do you need to know before you study abroad?

Samantha Weintraub - Lock Ard Gorge, Australia.jpg

1. What do you expect to get out of it?

You know there are tons of benefits of studying abroad – but what is YOUR goal? Out of the zillion good things about study abroad, you need to know what you, as an individual student, are looking forward to the most. It is important to note that a study abroad program is an academic program, and thus, you should focus on the academic aspect of the program you are looking into. It is also important to realize that you are going to do other things while abroad besides studying and taking classes – making new friends, traveling, trying new food, learning a foreign language, (sometimes) doing an internship or community service, etc. Your choice of a study abroad program will heavily be dependent upon the “thing” that you are trying to achieve or accomplish.

2. Long-term program vs. Short-term program

Be mindful that you can study abroad for a full academic year or just for a spring break. Though you will not know for sure if you will easily survive in a foreign country until you actually go there, we strongly recommend that you at least try! Do not be afraid of doing a semester-long program – many students, who were first worried about staying in a foreign country for four months, later find themselves fall in love with the country and decide to stay there for another semester. That, however, does not mean that you should always do a long-term program. Again, depending on your goal and your interest, a short-term program may work out better for your plan. Just remember that both long-term programs and short-term programs have their own pros and cons, and you should determine which one you will do after a thorough research of those prose and cons.

3. Study abroad vs. Exchange

In either case, you will have similar, if not the same, experience as an international student at an abroad institution. The only difference between the two is the cost. The special agreement, called an exchange agreement, between two universities indicates that exchange students pay their home university’s tuition and fees. So a Binghamton University student on an exchange program should pay the Binghamton University’s tuition and fees regardless of where the program is held – this benefit makes exchange programs, in general, more competitive than non-exchange programs. If there are no available exchange spots for the term you want to study abroad, then you can still participate in the program but on a “study abroad” basis, where you need to pay tuition differentials. However, keep in mind that either you do a study abroad program or an exchange program, you will have wonderful international experience.

4. What are the general requirements?

All study abroad programs, regardless of their type or duration, have their own requirements and eligibility criteria. Having a certain, minimum grade point average will be required by a lot of the programs, and in general, you will need to submit your academic transcript, a certain number of references, and a personal statement explaining why you are interested in the program in particular and your goal for the program. For language-specific programs, you will most likely be required to possess basic knowledge of the language. Above all, regardless of the program you are participating in, you are to have clear judicial violation record; the Office of International Programs will review the judicial records of all study abroad applicants, and determine whether or not they can participate in the program based on their judicial records.

5. Talking to your loved ones about your study abroad plans

This may sound simple and obvious, but surprisingly, a lot of students who plan on studying abroad do not talk about their plans with their family or friends. Talking to your loved ones about your study abroad plans and goals is as important as talking to your study abroad and/or academic advisors. Openly discuss with them what you are looking forward to achieve from a study abroad program and listen to their feedback and if they have any concerns about you studying abroad. You will also need to discuss with them how you will finance the program and living expenses while you are abroad.

Office of International Programs, Binghamton University


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