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October 25, 2023

What Study Abroad Personality Are You?

Which study abroad personality are you? A foodie sampling local cuisine from different places? An adventurer seeking new terrain and physical challenges? An economics student eyeing a career in international business? A foreign language major seeking cultural immersion? A fashionista traversing overseas for inspiration? Whatever your motivation to see another part of the world, this guide will help you consider different program options and which might be a fit for you. Find out what works for your personality, major and budget.

Find your reason to go abroad.

Whether you’ve seen “Emily in Paris,” always wanted to travel or received encouragement from a faculty advisor, it’s important to know why you are setting off on your adventure and how it will fit into your college career. Begin by focusing on your reasons for studying abroad.

male and female students scuba divingCareer- or major-specific programs – Are you looking for a professional experience that’s difficult to have in the U.S. or do you want a global perspective on your industry or field? Pursuing unique career-based learning is a great reason to go abroad. For example, animal science students at Berry College interact with local species and domestic farm animals. However, Berry’s campus does not offer anything quite like the exotic animals of Thailand. That’s why we offer our students study abroad to cover the gap. It offers the chance to round out your resume and knowledge.

Location or culture-based choices – You might have a certain place in mind that you’ve always wanted to visit. It could be directly related to your major, or you might be curious about a certain part of the world. Many students interested in specific locations study core curriculum classes abroad. However, prioritizing location may require pursuit of these courses earlier in their college career.

Personal growth – Students traveling outside the U.S. get to know themselves better. Getting out of your comfort zone will help you discover your strengths and likely some weaknesses. It will also help you gain a clearer perspective on different communities and cultures, increasing your awareness and empathy while helping you become a more global citizen. You’ll cultivate adaptability and resilience, traits many employers aspire to have in their employees. How do you find your way when your smartphone doesn’t work? How do you navigate using another country’s version of Uber? What do you do when all the food is unfamiliar? Working through these challenges will help prepare you for solving problems in your career.

What Are The Options?

Typically occurring during the semester or over the summer, study abroad opportunities are organized in various ways. The list below includes the most common types.

two female students sight seeing in EuropeSummer programs led by college faculty – Each summer, college professors take students abroad for special topics classes. Most often these are core curriculum classes that may be group-based or shared experiences where you travel with faculty and students from your institution. You may stay with your group, or you may be offered a host family choice for housing. It’s a great way for students to build community abroad with faculty and peers from their home institution. Locations, topics and fees vary year to year. During school semesters, students typically apply their financial aid and scholarships toward these programs. Be aware, however, that summer financial aid varies more.

Affiliated programs or university partners – These providers run curricula around the world for different colleges. With these organizations, students pay the same college tuition and the host program’s housing and insurance fees — typically applying their financial aid and scholarships toward these expenses. Similarly to the faculty-led programs, you may live with a group from your college, or you may be offered a host family situation for housing. This option works well for those looking for support but who do not already have a faculty member leading them abroad.

Exchange programs – This option involves students swapping spots with peers from partner universities and institutions. You pay regular college tuition, insurance and the host university’s housing. For example, Berry College has exchange agreements with Seoul Women’s University in South Korea, and the University of Birmingham, England. Even if you and a friend sign up together, it’s still an individualized and immersive experience.

Intern, research or volunteer – It is also possible to do more than take classes abroad! Many of the college-affiliated partners offer stand-alone internships, research or volunteer work. Students can add these opportunities – whether credit or non-credit – while taking classes during a semester abroad. Sometimes students opt to complete directed studies or independent internships abroad.

Got Your Why? Now Get Your How!

The number of study abroad options might surprise you, but researching required classes for your major, graduation timeline and finances will help you narrow in on the choice that’s right for you. Thinking through your priorities and requirements may feel like a lot of information to juggle, but college campuses are full of support. There are several places that will offer guidance on your decision-making process.

Meet with the study abroad office one semester to one year in advance – This office will have all the resources. Share your “why” and they will show you either major-specific locations or programs offered in your area of choice.

group of student in front of cliffsideShare your options with your advisors – Your major requirements are likely to help you determine the right path. For example, if you’re a nursing major, you’ll need to factor in required clinicals beginning in your junior year. Look for opportunities that may not require a full semester. For example, Berry’s nursing program offers a yearly summer immersion where students travel to Kenya to work with underserved populations in clinic settings. Building an awareness of health care in other cultures provides insight into global health and proves useful to practice in the U.S. with its own growing cultural diversity.

Also, remember that faculty are not the only people who may need to weigh in on your decision. If you are a member of a sports team or have a special scholarship, your coaches and advisors need to know what you are planning so you can maintain eligibility.

Tips For Selecting What's Right For You:

Once you understand the available options, ask yourself key questions to zero in on the ideal path.

  • What are my goals (academic, personal and/or professional), and how can going abroad help me work toward them?
  • What am I already studying that I’d like to learn about in a new context?
  • What culture(s) or cultural experiences am I interested in learning more about? Does this affect the time of year I want to travel?
  • Is there something I’d like to study but is not available at my college?
  • Are there specific classes I must take while abroad? Which programs offer these classes? Or what major, minor and/or core requirements do I have left to complete that I could work on abroad?
  • What is my budget? Do I need to consider locations with lower costs of living and lower airfare?
  • How do I find external scholarships? What scholarships are available to me with the timeline I have?
  • What type of support systems will I need abroad? Medical care? Counseling services? Travel medical insurance? What options support my needs?
  • Am I hoping to take regional side trips while I’m away? If so, is my program centrally located?

As you reflect on your needs, you may discover the perfect setup in a location you had not considered before. Get out of your comfort zone! A completely new place might be just the right fit. Although the UK, Spain, and Italy tend to be popular destinations, higher education professionals strongly recommend researching options in multiple areas of the world.

Make A Choice.

Once you’ve identified your goals, timeline and finances, then narrowed down your choices, meet again with your academic advisor and financial aid office. When they both give you the thumbs up, it’s time to submit your application and gather travel documents like your passport and possibly a visa, which is required in some countries for study that exceeds 90 days.

Don't Take Our Word For It!

Check out stories from Berry College students who have different majors and loved their study abroad choices.

Corina Coulter, a psychology major who traveled to Lima, Peru, with a faculty-led summer program, says, “The hands-on experiences we received in both the clinics and the Juan Pablo II Catholic School for children with intellectual disabilities were my most notable opportunities. Learning more about the culture and how it plays into the treatment and education of kids with intellectual disabilities was indescribable. We played with the kids, implemented procedures, spoke their language and recorded data. It was hard work, but incredibly fulfilling, and honestly life-changing.”

Bree Estrada, a political science major, says the semester she spent in London benefited her personally while leading to next steps in her career: “The things I learned in my classes and the way I learned was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. There was less class time and fewer assignments, yet so much reading and deep investigation during our seminars. Emotionally, it was hard to be away from everyone I knew and loved, but after a month or so, I gained independence and confidence that I did not know I was capable of. Because of study abroad, I now know I want to get a master's degree in international relations, and I have already applied to graduate programs with a European focus.”

Whether you go for 10 days or an entire semester, studying abroad will grow you personally and professionally. Find your fit today!

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