Find your “why” and the rest will fall into place.
That’s our advice to students when they ask us, “How can I study abroad?” It’s the best first step, always. Knowing your goals will help you find the study abroad program that’s right for you.
Need help getting started? Let’s unpack this discovery process together. After all, that’s what we’re here for!
Top Questions to Ask Yourself Before Studying Abroad
To effectively set your goals for study abroad, you’ll want to start by asking yourself a series of questions to identify your interests and motivations. Here are a few top questions to help guide you:
1. Why do I want to study abroad?
Do you want to improve your language skills, explore a new culture, or knock out certain credits at a top university? Or, do you want to gain real-world work experience through an international internship?
Determine what’s inspiring you to study abroad, then find the programs that best match what you want.
2. What interests me most about my chosen program(s)?
With your “why” in hand and your selected program(s), it’s now time to be honest about the program details that best resonate with you. Is it the cultural excursion(s) included? The option to live with a host family? The chance to advance your language skills?
No matter which program details stick out to you, these bits of information will help you discover your overall study abroad goals.
3. How does my chosen program align with my degree(s), career path, etc.?
To get the most out of your experience, the program you choose must line up with your “why” and goals. It’s often a good idea to seek counsel from your school’s study abroad office at this juncture. Do this to ensure the courses, credits, and overall learning outcomes in your chosen program align with your degree and future career path.
After all, study abroad is an investment, and it’s your responsibility to make sure you fully understand what you’re paying for if you decide to move forward with your program.
4. Should I study abroad and/or intern abroad?
Both are great options, and both offer unforgettable experiences. The answer here will map back to your ultimate goal, which you should establish at this point in your inquiry process.
Personal Goals for Studying Abroad
Your goals should ultimately align with your “why” but also your academic journey. Hopefully, the two easily pair, but we know that’s not always the case.
This is where your school’s study abroad office can be really helpful. They can help ensure you choose a program that matches both your personal goals and your academic needs. Because that’s key. We can also help with that. Just ask!
Stuck on defining your personal goals? Here are the top three personal goals our students often set:
- Goal #1: Gain confidence.
The very act of learning and living in an entirely new culture will give your confidence a real and lasting boost. A lesser known benefit: Study abroad gives those you work with (in school or professionally) extra confidence in you, too!
- Goal #2: Develop an understanding of diverse cultures.
Unlike vacations where you observe the culture you’re visiting, studying abroad lets you live it. This kind of immersion will give you a deep understanding of the country and its culture.
- Goal #3: Work to become a Global Citizen.
Through studying abroad you will gain new perspectives on the world around you that will positively change the way you think, solve problems, travel, and choose to live your life.
Academic Goals for Studying Abroad
And don’t forget to define your academic goals! The top three we see are:
- Goal #1: Learn from faculty with different perspectives.
This will happen naturally as all your professors, whether through partner schools or at CIEE, will be local subject-matter experts.
- Goal #2: Enroll in courses not available at your home university.
Study abroad is an exciting way to spice up your transcript without having to transfer.
- Goal #3: Literally make the world your classroom.
Because of course it is!
Professional Goals for Studying Abroad
Studying abroad is not only good for your academic life but your future professional life as well.
- Goal #1: Network with talented global professionals around the world.
Whether taking on an academic program or international internship, the connections you make while abroad will serve you well as you commence your life after graduation.
- Goal #2: Develop cross-cultural awareness, understanding, and immersion.
More than ever, cross-cultural understanding is critical in the workplace. Studying abroad will give you key skills employers need now.
- Goal #3: Gain new skills.
You can’t even help but learn new skills. From traveling internationally to making your way around a foreign city and everything in between, you’ll be a communication powerhouse able to adapt to any new situation a workplace throws your way!
Set Your Study Abroad Goals
See? Defining your “why” before settling on a program will set you up for success. Get started to plan the study abroad adventure that’s perfect for you.
And, as always, reach out if you need support. We’re here to help. Good luck!