How to Choose the Right Abroad Program for You
This past fall semester, I studied abroad in London, England. The first question students ask after my return to campus has been, "How did you know which abroad program to choose?" With so many amazing choices for places to study abroad, it’s hard to choose which one is the best fit for you. Each abroad opportunity is unique to the individual. Most people on the same program will likely have very different experiences. For example, taking different classes, traveling to different places or meeting new people, each personalize your time abroad. As I have taken time to reflect on my study in London, I want to guide future students into making the best decisions for them on their study abroad!
Research, research, and research! I know that this is the last thing any student wants to do in the middle of a heavy class schedule and schoolwork, but I promise it makes all the difference. Look at what classes your specific program offers. Will the classes work for your desired major? These are all questions that I asked while trying to decide which programs to apply to. Throughout my research, I learned to be open-minded to the specific qualities of each program. For instance, living with a host family. At first, I was apprehensive about the idea of living in someone else’s home, but it ended up being the highlight of living in London. By going outside my comfort zone I was blessed to meet, live and befriend my host mom, Ingrid. She became my mom away from home. We had dinners together twice a week, decorated the house for Christmas, went to see The Book of Mormon and had nightly chats in the living room. Without this, I never would have been able to meet the central person who made my abroad experience.
My second piece of advice is to ask questions. In class, my professors always say, “There is no such thing as a dumb question” and this is so true! With St. Lawrence, being a small school, it is special in helping students make connections with each other. Whether that be people you’re in a class with, upper-class students, alumni or a random person you may know that attended your desired program. Don’t be afraid to talk to them because I guarantee they will want to talk about their own experience! Another resource is the Center for International and Intercultural Studies (CIIS) Office. They are the ones that know all answers and are a great resource to utilize.
My final piece of advice is a cheesy one, but trust your gut! No one knows what’s better for you than you. If you have a strong feeling towards one program versus another, trust that feeling and run with it. St. Lawrence is a special place where you have unlimited options and can never go wrong!