Resources for Students Studying Abroad
No matter your home country or where you will study, studying abroad may be a challenging experience. As you transition from your home into a new culture, you will experience culture shock. One of the best ways to deal this transition period is to know what resources are available to you and how to best use those resources. International student resources come in various forms: critical information, programs that can help you get connected to school and make living abroad easier, and where to find these resources.
With the internet essentially everywhere, you have access to these resources virtually anywhere and at any time. Finding them, however, can sometimes be challenging. Below are various resources for international students that will help you locate testing information, connect with important programs, and learn how to best use these resources. If planning on studying abroad, it is in your best interest to take a look at the resources for international students below.
Optional Practical Training
For students studying in the U.S. under the F-1 Student Visa, you may apply to the Optional Practical Training (OPT) after pursuing a degree for at least nine months. The OPT period allows students to work for a full year in the U.S. without having to apply for a work visa. In some cases, students may apply for a special OPT time period that allows them to work in the U.S. for 29 months. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services provides more information on the OPT program.
Student Health Services in Other Countries
Most schools provide health services to students. However, these services can vary from school to school and campus to campus. As you begin looking at different schools, verify the student health services they provide. Be sure the school has a doctor or someone who can diagnose you and provide you with a prescription.
Requirements for U.S. Students Studying Abroad
Every country, like every student, is unique. Often we fail to recognize that every country has its own set of laws and regulations for foreign students studying in that country. The best way to understand what will be required of you as a U.S. citizen studying in a foreign country is to look at that country’s embassy website. The U.S. Department of State provides a full list of Foreign Embassies in the U.S.
Requirements for International Students Studying in U.S.
As an international student hoping to study in the U.S., you must follow a certain process to obtain a student visa. You must submit an application, schedule and attend a visa interview, pay the appropriate fees, and provide additional documentation and materials to a consular officer. You can learn more about all of this by visiting the Student Visa website provided by the U.S. Department of State. To locate the nearest embassy, consulate, or diplomatic mission, visit the Embassy page provided by the Department of State.
Almost every campus has different student associations. Whether fraternities, sororities, or associations based on skills and interests, student associations are a great way to meet new people and get involved in your campus. Studying at a foreign school where you do not know anyone can be pretty intimidating, but joining a student association is an easy way to meet new people.
TOEFL Test (Non-Native English speakers)
As a foreign student traveling and studying in an English-speaking country, you may run into some communication issues. Many schools like to know a student’s language proficiency, so you may be required to take the TOEFL test and provide the school with your scores. The TOEFL test is the most recognized test for non-native English speakers. By visiting the TOEFL website, you can learn more, register for the test, and learn about what you need to bring with you on test day.
IELTS Test (English Language Test)
Like the TOEFL test, the IELTS test is designed to test your English language skills. The IELTS is used around the world for various things like education, business, and visa approval. Before you sign up for either test, you need to check with your school to decide which test is more appropriate or required of you.
PTE: Pearson’s Test of English (Non-Native English Speakers)
Again, this test is designed to assess your English language proficiency. The PTE is used for students, those in business, and young learners. When you sign up for your test, make sure you sign up for the PTE Academic version of test, which is used by schools in the U.S., Australia, and the UK.
American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS)
If you are looking for a cultural exchange program that offers you with the opportunity to travel and meet new people while learning about a different culture, then the AIFS may be the right program for you. They help more than 50,000 people every year with various exchange programs, including studying abroad. The institute places students all over the world and helps them have amazing experiences. You can learn more about the Institute, the types of placements, and the locations you can travel to by visiting their website.
Interstudy is an organization that helps college students from the U.S. and Canada study abroad. It places students in England, Ireland, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Botswana, and South Africa. Interstudy works with a variety of colleges and universities throughout these countries to help find the best placement. Designed as a support system, Interstudy assists you every step of the way, from applying to re-entering your home country.
School-Sponsored Health Insurance Plans
Some schools choose to offer health insurance for their students. But if you do not have health insurance, you will often be required to enroll in the school-sponsored plan. Unfortunately, school-sponsored plans don’t always provide all the coverage you may need. The plans are typically affordable, but may sacrifice coverage, and you do not always have the option to add coverage you may need. In order to make sure you are completely covered, consider purchasing student travel health insurance that allows you to choose your amount of coverage.
If you have already graduated school and are still highly interested in traveling, look into teaching abroad. When you teach abroad, you will most likely teach your native language to those who are trying to learn a second language. For example, many Americans who teach abroad travel to South Korea and teach English. There are many programs to choose from other than English language.
- Institute of International Education for Students (IES): IES helps students connect with different programs around the world.
- Global Student Experience (GSE): GSE provides study abroad experiences in Spain, Argentina, Italy, England, and France.
- International Student Exchange Cards (ISE Cards): The ISE cards are valid for a full year, are a recognized form of identification around the world, and provide students with discounts at various locations.
- Academic Programs International (API): API is committed to providing students with enriching study abroad experiences in various locations around the world. The organization helps students locate programs and supports them during their studies.
- Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education (CERGI-EI): CERGI-EI provides a fully funded educational opportunity to students studying economics on a graduate level. The organization primarily works with students from Central and Eastern Europe.
- Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS): With a curriculum of more than 160 courses all taught in English, DIS provides stimulating and challenging learning environments in Denmark.
- International Student Exchange Program (ISEP): Operating in 50 countries with access to more than 300 institutions, ISEP is a great resource when you are starting your study abroad experience. The organization can also help you find a program to provide you with a unique study abroad experience.