I love your question!
Here is a great article about comparing US programs to European programs. It contains lots of great links that might help you to decide:
I would start with what career you are interested in pursuing and then finding some schools that match your interest. Many US schools have a study abroad program that allows you to take classes for credit and offers opportunities in English. US high schools are geared for US Colleges. European high schools are a little different in that high school includes some additional classwork that is similar to freshman year or junior college in the US.
Semester abroad depends on the school you are attending. Also, it is critical to remember that laws, norms, and college culture in the United States may be very different in another country so you need to carefully study the country’s culture before you study, work, and live abroad.
Your potential major is also something to think about. If you choose medicine, law, or accounting, these programs require specific classes potentially at a US program because you are sitting for a state licensing exam. Other majors like art, dance, and literature may be more flexible and whether you take a semester abroad or go on your own for a master class or an enrichment program there are many wonderful opportunities in the arts and liberal arts.
I had the opportunity (a scholarship) to go to a summer culture and language program at a real castle (now a business school) in the Netherlands. Wow, what a fabulous experience!!! While it didn’t count for my major at the time, it was such an important experience and helped me choose a major and a career. After studying abroad, I went to grad school at UT Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs. The reason I chose this program was because grad students could receive course credit for working on actual international projects. I was able to intern at two amazing organizations abroad. Since the economy is global, study abroad can be a really amazing part of your college experience. You can also gain international work/study/volunteer experience before you graduate from school. You are on an exciting journey, let us know what you decide.
Victoria recommends the following next steps:
- Read the article and brainstorm why you would like to study abroad. Write your ideas down or keep an idea file on your computer. What country seems most interesting to you and why.
- Determine if your college, university or high school has a study abroad program or someone at your school has done this before. Read everything carefully. Create a budget and plan. Talk to your advisor.
- If it doesnt seem to be working out keep collecting ideas. There are opportunities out there and whether you find them at school, work, or by volunteering you will find an opportunity that is right for you.