First thing’s first, you should definitely study abroad if your course schedule allows for it. Other worries such as finances can be accounted for if early action is taken. The earlier you make the decision the better!
The main reason I applied for study abroad is to get out of my comfort zone. I know Purdue and West Lafayette/Lafayette quite well. I’ve also built some great relationships with my professors and other students here, but it’s all too familiar.
Here are a few important questions to consider:
When is the right time to study abroad?
The answer to this question varies for EVERYONE. The truth is there isn’t a “right” time to do anything in life. The amount of time we spend contemplating simple yes or no decisions can be put to better use. If you’re all for studying abroad and want to do it, here are some real questions to consider concerning time: 1) Do I want to study abroad during winter/spring/summer break, a semester, or a year and where do I want to study? 2) Will I graduate when I’d like to if I decide to study abroad? 3) Will the classes I take abroad transfer over to Purdue? If not, will this hold me back? 4) When are the application deadlines for the study abroad programs offered?
Personally, I knew that I didn’t want to spend a week or two in a different country and call it studying abroad. Winter and spring break were quickly eliminated. I also knew that I didn’t want to spend an entire year in a foreign land without the possibility of seeing my family. So I was left with either studying abroad during the summer or during fall or spring semester. This is where I had to pay attention to important details such as capstone courses only offered at Purdue during the fall semester and whether I wanted to intern or work during the summer. When I was thinking about this during the summer, I knew it was too late to try and apply for this Fall (15′) semester and I also wanted to intern during the summer. I was left with spring semester! Which leads us to the next question…
Where do I want to study abroad?
Initially, I was set on going to Australia! My academic advisor talked about Austria once, but I was so set on going to Australia that I didn’t take the time to look into it. When I finally decided yes to studying abroad, and spring is the time I’ll go, I then spent more time looking into the different programs offered and their locations. Austria somehow ended up in my top 2 choices, right under Australia. Then I began to think about my personality and which location would cater best to my individuality.
How did Austria win? I am an explorer, and I would like to see as many different countries as possible given the chance. I found out that going to Austria leaves the door open to travelling to 27 other countries in the European Union. After looking into the academic calendar at BOKU, I noticed that we have 3 weeks off for Easter Break. #Wheredeydothatat? I also have this crazy bucket list idea of travelling to 21 countries at 21…and we have 21 days off!!! Dreams do come true.
On the other hand, Australia leaves the door open to just Australia. The major cities are also quite far apart from each other. I could travel 2-3 hours and be out of Austria. In Australia that time only gets me to the next major city. I also found out that Austria homes a diverse group of ethnic backgrounds, including Nigerians! Yaaaay, a home away from home :). Ding, ding ding!
It’s important to think about where you’ll be most comfortable being away from home. It’s like applying to college all over again, the location and culture of the city is just as important. Go to the place that offers the most opportunities.
How will my study abroad expenses be covered?
At first this was the toughest question I had to deal with, but all things are possible! On the Purdue study abroad website, there is a break down of all the expenses for each program. First, find the subtotal. Second, find out what your financial aid will cover if anything. Lastly, find the difference in 1 and 2, and then continue panicking (jk). THERE ARE PLENTY AND I MEAN PLENTY OF FINANCIAL RESOURCES OPEN TO STUDENTS WHO WANT TO STUDY ABROAD. I REPEAT, PLENTY. Here are some resourceful websites for Boilermakers:
- Purdue Moves Abroad Scholarship is automatically granted, ONLY IF YOU APPLY.
- Notice that some scholarships are also offered by colleges (check for yours).
- Check out the Gilman Scholarship!!!!
Those two websites will be very helpful to you if finances are a concern. Please make sure to look for every scholarship, check out the requirements, and just apply! Also make sure to ask your academic and SA advisor about any scholarships within your college that may not be listed online.
How helpful are the study abroad advisors?
Very. I think I saw my SA advisor once or twice every 2 weeks during the summer when I was considering the whole study abroad thing. She answered all of questions and if she didn’t know the answer, she’d follow up with someone who had an answer. She didn’t complain once. It’s amazing really. I’ve learned that there’s a lot of support provided to students with each step of the SA program… from applying for scholarships, to visas, to meeting other exchange students…my SA advisor made all of this possible.
I believe that studying abroad is a life changing decision (mainly because of the stories I’ve heard from SA alumnus) and having the support of your advisors and family members will put your mind more at ease when issues sprout.
I hope at least 1 person finds this helpful in some way. Feel free to leave a question/comment in the box below!