Naomi, great question. Studying abroad was the best decision that I made in college and it was an incredibly rewarding experience. That withstanding, it took a lot of planning and logistics to execute. I chose to study abroad during the first semester of my junior year, but my planning started during the second semester of my sophomore year . It is likely that your school will give you the choice to study in many different places in many different types of programs. Choosing a destination can be hard given the options, but it can be refined down if you ask yourself a few questions: Do I need need to speak the language, do I like the food in country, am I interested in the culture, can I afford the program etc. You need to ask yourself these questions as they will help you refine your search.
I chose to study abroad in China as I speak the language, but China would likely not be the ideal choice for someone if they do not already speak the language/if they are unwilling to learn the language. There are many countries around the world where English is not commonly spoken and if you only speak English, then perhaps those countries wouldn't be a good fit. Knowing the language of the country you choose to study is pretty critical as it will grant you freedom and you will get more out of your time overseas. The length of time you choose to study abroad depends on the kind of program you want to do; if you are doing a language program then going for a year is the right choice, if you are just going for the academics then a semester is likely a good choice. Talk to a academic adviser as they will be able to guide you and make the choice easier. Be aware that transferring credit internationally can be difficult and you may not get credit for all the classes you take.
Getting the most out of your time overseas largely depends on the kind of person you are; if you are insular and like to stay within your comfort zone studying abroad will be difficult and will push you. If you are outgoing, like to experience new things, and are an extrovert then studying abroad is the right choice. You should be willing to push yourself and do things that you wouldn't normally do as your time overseas is fleeting and you don't want to have regrets when you come back. Try to be as involved as possible and put yourself out there.
I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck in the study abroad program/country that you choose!!
Austin recommends the following next steps:
- Talk to an academic adviser at your school, they are well equipped to help you and have the most amount of resources for students like you