Are you a high school senior looking ahead to a college career? Want to learn more about another culture, or simply experience something new?

Consider studying abroad!

There are plenty of reasons to spend some time outside the United States as a young adult. But how do you go about doing it? 

Whether you want to study abroad for a semester (or multiple semesters), or just want to spend a summer in another country, there are lots of options available. So, if you’re feeling inspired (and a bit adventurous), read on to find out how to make your international dreams come true.

1. Research Your Options

First of all, you need to learn what your options are before you can start making any formal plans.

Your options will vary depending on what you want to study (and where).There could be several foreign exchange programs available. You have to do your research and make sure you choose the right one for you.

It will take a bit of investigation, research, and due diligence. However, it’s totally worth it to find a program that could be a perfect fit and help you round out your education in a lasting, meaningful way. 

2. Apply Early

Waiting until the last second could mean being stuck with limited (if any) options. The sooner you begin your search, the more likely you are to land the specific opportunity that fits you best.

Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to prepare for foreign study applications. Many programs have deadlines well ahead of the actual start date, so the earlier you apply, the better.

Also, remember that foreign exchange programs tend to fill up fast. Don’t miss your chance… apply as soon as possible! 

3. Get Your Finances in Order

Foreign exchange study programs can be an exciting and rewarding experience… but they can also be an expensive one. It’s important to start preparing your finances as early as possible. 

Financial aid and scholarships are the two most popular options when it comes to making foreign exchange study programs more affordable. However, those are usually available only to students with exceptional records or a demonstrated need.

Alternatively, work-study programs offer another option that combines aspects of foreign exchange study with on-site employment. This makes them attractive to many students who want to truly immerse themselves in foreign cultures, while also earning money for their travels. 

4. Learn the Language

English is the most widely spoken language in the world. If you’re planning to head somewhere in which English is not the majority language, though, you should really consider learning at least a little of that language before you go.

You won’t need to be fluent; after all, immersion is part of the learning experience. Still, learning key phrases relevant to everyday conversations and activities can make your time abroad more enjoyable and stress-free. Also, being able to communicate with locals will make for a much richer, more enlightening experience. 

There are lots of online language resources you can explore before you leave, as well as several apps and study guides to help you through. 

5. Prepared for (and Embrace) Culture Shock 

“Culture shock” happens no matter where you decide to travel. The experience of being dropped into a culture that’s totally different from the one you’re used to can be jarring… but it can also be exciting.

Foreign travel and study will always require you to keep an open mind. The more willing you are to experience new things, the more you’re bound to get out of the experience. 

Foreign study programs are designed to provide you with valuable lessons about different cultures. Each of these lessons is an opportunity for personal growth. So, don’t be intimidated. Instead, embrace the culture shock and enjoy diving feet-first into a different way of seeing the world!

You Can Do it!

Moving abroad and exploring a different culture can be a fantastic experience.

It’s true that it can feel very intimidating at first. But, with proper research, preparation, and understanding of the culture, you can open yourself up to new ideas,  adventures, and customs. Happy travels!