How to Make Studying Abroad Work For You

EdOdyssey Marketing Intern Amanda Lowrey (right) shares her experience with peers during a study abroad mixer.

EdOdyssey Marketing Intern Amanda Lowrey (right) shares her experience with peers during a study abroad mixer.

Whether you’re going into your freshman year of college or senior year, you’ll always have to come up with an academic game plan and adjust it along the way. As you figure out what classes they want to take, clubs, which classes to take and what your future will look like beyond the classroom. These are all stressful ideas to manage! As a recent college graduate who worked and volunteered during college, it is important to come up with a plan in order to set goals and achieve what you can.

In my spare time, when I volunteered as a Study Abroad Alumni Ambassador on campus, many prospective students felt nervous over the fact that they’d have to leave familiar territory for a semester of unknown coursework and professors. I remember how intimidating and overwhelmed I initially felt about studying abroad, and wanted to alleviate some of their similar concerns by having open conversations about what going abroad meant to me. 

Some major questions that I faced were: 

“How will I graduate on time?”

“How will I be able to take the credits needed to graduate while overseas?” 

These were common, and very valid, concerns. Let’s talk about how you can manage your workload with school and be able to study abroad! 

Setting Realistic Goals

Although goal setting can seem fairly straightforward, it can be demanding to actually achieve them. Studying abroad is all about maintaining manageable coursework and making the most of your time abroad. 

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Have you started the conversation with your advisor about how to make studying abroad work for you? Have you mapped out your credits to see which classes you'll need for your degree in the future? It's always best to double check everything in order to figure out which courses can be taken while overseas!

As you plan ahead, you’ll visually start to see how many units or courses are left, you’ll begin to realize that studying abroad doesn’t affect your major as much as you’d expect! If anything, you’re able to be guaranteed a number of units with approved courses while abroad since you’ll be required to partake in specific classes. 

Thinking Outside of the Box 

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Are there alternative ways for you to get courses planned out and completed before, during, and after studying abroad? Independent study, online courses, and summer and winter intersessions, are three options that can positively impact your progress toward graduation. 

Independent study, refers to choosing units with your advisor and making your own arrangements for coursework to enhance your academic goals. Online courses may also be available to you through your university where you can take a few classes online in order to add additional credits, get ahead, or have a flexible class schedule. Online classes and independent study both allow you to knock out courses in less time with fewer distractions.  

Last but definitely not least, summer and winter intersessions are sometimes available to certain majors where students can participate in classes during their seasonal breaks. Taking a class or two during intersession generally has a moderate workload, and you’re able to stay ahead on credits needed before studying abroad, or afterward. 

These are examples of making the most of your time in school prior to living overseas, and having alternative options of staying on track when you return. 

Communication is Key 

Planning to study abroad with your campus is all about keeping an open line of communication. Communicating clearly with teachers and professors about how you’ll benefit from a program abroad and illustrating your passion of travel is pivotal when getting courses approved. 

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Let them know that how a certain course at the host university will benefit your academic understanding. Having the support of your home campus while overseas will make it easier to maintain a relationship with them when it comes time to apply for registration and graduation. 

As frustrating as your preparation can be for study abroad, you will ultimately make your experience abroad and your transition back home much easier! 

Check out our blog post which discusses a few steps students can do to be proactive about studying abroad: "Three Steps For Preparing Your Study Abroad Now"!