Summer Study Abroad
So, you’ve decided to study abroad. Good for you! The next decision to be made is when and where you’ll go. For some students, the benefits of studying during the regular academic year make sense. However, every student, like every study abroad experience, is unique, and you have to find the right program. If you are interested in studying abroad, but cannot go during the academic year, consider studying abroad during the summer.
There are many benefits to study abroad summer programs: they often give you freedom to travel more outside of class and study less-traditional subjects. You might even gain hands-on experience by participating in a lab or a dig. Studying abroad during the academic year typically means you’ll study away for a semester or a full academic year. Study abroad programs in the summer can range from a week to a couple months to the full summer, allowing plenty of flexibility.
Deciding Where to Study Abroad
Summer study abroad typically means you’ll be away for a shorter period of time and have fewer academic constraints. So in evaluating where to study abroad, the world is your oyster. Here are a few things you will want to consider before deciding where to travel:
- Weather: One of the biggest factors in selecting a location might be the weather. Do you prefer warmer climates? Does rain bother you? These are the types of criteria you should consider when selecting a summer study abroad location. Studying abroad is your chance to explore the world and what it has to offer, so you may want to take the opportunity to live in an alien climate.
- Culture: Is there a culture that has always interested you? Have you thought about what you can learn from that culture? It may be beneficial to experience a completely foreign culture in order to stretch your boundaries.
- Geography: What type of geography do you prefer? Beaches? Mountains? Both? Do some research about the area around where your chosen site.
- Activities: Besides what the surrounding environment offers, what else do you want to be able to do? Are you into museums, architecture, or art? Do you enjoy outdoor activities? Research the types of activities that will be available.
- Accessibility: Another factor that you want to think about when deciding where to study abroad is the overall accessibility of attractions. Does the city or town have public transportation? Are there trains and/or buses to neighboring cities and sights? Research your options to ensure you will be able to go where you want.
What You Want to Study
Besides deciding where you want to study, you also have to decide what you want to study. Many summer study abroad programs are all about traveling and learning through experience, but there are plenty of other options out there. Consider programs designed for service, internships, working, classroom learning, and volunteering.
- Service: If you are interested in making your summer study abroad experience about service, there are plenty of opportunities. Travel to Costa Rica, for example, and participate in an ecotourism service-based study abroad program. This program allows you to work in parks and perhaps help educate on subjects such as ecotourism and environment sustainability.
- Internships: Many students have a strong desire to enhance their future employment opportunities by participating in an internship abroad. The summer months are a great time for internships because the period allows you to focus on the internship and doesn’t distract from schoolwork.
- Classroom: Some students want the traditional study abroad experience during a summer program. When studying abroad during the academic year, you must find a school with credits that transfer to your home campus. This is less of a concern during summer study abroad programs, so you have more freedom to pursue coursework that is of purely personal interest. Without the obligations of mandatory coursework, you have plenty of options.
- Volunteer: You can use your summer study abroad experience as an opportunity to give something back and volunteer. Many programs are designed to enable you to volunteer at places like youth camps and orphanages. If not interested in volunteering with kids, then you should check out project building opportunities. Volunteer programs take place all over the world.
- Traveling and Culture: Are you a Francophile? Always yearning to explore Tokyo? What about Mexico City? Because you have more freedom with a summer study abroad program, you can take the time to soak up new cultures and native people. Programs that expose and immerse students in culture and travel typically take place only in the summer and last anywhere from a week to a month. Some remain in one place while others shuttle participants through several cities. Both options provide insight and educational opportunities.
Finding the Program
Now that you know where you want to study or travel during your time abroad, you need to find the right program. There are several ways you can go about this. Remember to be open-minded. It’s not guaranteed that you’ll find everything you want, but you may even find something better.
- Contact Your School: There is a good chance that your school has a study-abroad office that can help you identify schools abroad and different programs to fit your needs. Typically, these offices help students set up study abroad opportunities during the academic year. They should also be able to help you with summer study abroad opportunities.
- Use Internet Tools: Check out websites like StudyAbroad and CIEE. With their help, you can filter search results by discipline or region. These sites are also great resources for those seeking more a traveling experience than a classroom experience.
- Destination Searches: If you already know the country or city in which you would like to study, search for schools in that area. This will provide you a better understanding of what schools are like, where they are, and what they have to offer you.
After you have found a few programs that interest you, it is time to weigh your options further. Before committing to a program, be mindful of these things:
- When: Consider when each program takes place. There is a chance that because you are going abroad in the summer that the timing will not matter too much. But you should still double-check your calendar, and make sure it is clear of any major obstacles.
- Cost: Which program(s) can you afford? The cost will have a lot of variables like duration, location, and nature of the program. If the cost seems unaffordable, there are many resources offering financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships.
- Credibility: Before committing to or paying for a study abroad program, check the legitimacy and credibility of the program. If the program is offered through a school, chances are it is reputable. With those through other organizations, however, look for testimonials from previous students to ensure that their trips went smoothly.
The study abroad experience is all about you and your education. The type of education you receive depends on each trip, each student, and each program. Choosing to study abroad in the summer means that you have more flexibility and more options available to make your study abroad experience perfect for you.