Summer or Semester? Tips for Choosing the Perfect Study Abroad Experience

Ginger Abbot

Sep 13, 2019
semester-london

Are
you ready to see the world?

In
the words of Mark Twain, “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and
things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all
of one’s lifetime.” Travel broadens your horizons and helps you learn new
ways of seeing the world. And what better time to explore than as a student?
Study abroad enriches both your educational experience and your life.

But
how do you choose the best study abroad experience? Should you go overseas for
an entire semester or even a full year, or would a summer program work better
for you? Here’s how to decide.

1. Spending the Semester Abroad

Many
experts recommend spending a full semester studying abroad to make the most of
your experience. Why? Shorter excursions leave time only for visiting
popular touristy sights
, while longer stays enable you to immerse yourself in the culture. If
you’re traveling abroad to gain proficiency in another language, a longer stay
gives you time to master the tongue. Plus, you’re already amassing considerable
expenses in terms of flight tickets, so why not get more bang for your travel
buck?

If
you treasure family holiday traditions, however, studying abroad
during the fall semester
can lead to homesickness. (There’s no Thanksgiving anywhere else,
after all!) If the thought of missing out on annual celebrations gives you
pause, consider spending the spring semester overseas instead. You may miss out
on spring break — but you can have even more exciting experiences at your
destination.

2. Studying Abroad for a Full Year

Studying
abroad for a full year allows you to immerse yourself completely in another
culture. If you have a limited budget, an extended stay enables you to accept
employment overseas
to pad your pocketbook. Employers give potential hires who plan to
stay longer more consideration than those seeking a shorter-term gig.

If
you’re mastering a foreign language, a full year abroad gives you ample time to
build proficiency. You’ll pick up on common colloquialisms and learn how to
navigate day-to-day conversations. This gives you a substantial edge over other
candidates when it comes time to start your career.

3. Doing a Shorter Summer Study

Are you curious about studying abroad but leery of leaving home for an extended time? Summer study programs let you get your traveling shoes wet without a lengthy time commitment. Plus, many summer courses feature smaller class sizes, meaning you’re more likely to get the individualized attention you need. They’re also much more affordable when you’re watching your budget.

Studying
abroad for a brief period may ignite your passion for a lengthier stay. A short
time overseas helps you overcome travel anxiety. Plus, you can explore
destinations like developing
nations
you
might not want to remain in for an extended period.

A
shorter summer program also poses less possibility of postponing your
graduation. If you spend a semester or year abroad, you’ll need to coordinate
with your academic adviser to ensure you meet all credit requirements by
commencement — but a summer program can actually provide you with an extra
credit without worrying about scheduling.

4. Embarking After Graduation

Finally,
if you choose not to study abroad during your traditional four-year college
career, you can embark on your travels after graduation. Postponing travel
enables you to expand your educational horizons. Whether you opt to attend
graduate school overseas
, apply for an internship or teach English as a second language, you
will gain valuable skills to bring to the job market stateside — or wherever
your future leads.

Studying
abroad once you have your degree opens financial and cultural doors. For
example, many programs that allow you to teach English overseas require a
bachelor’s degree or higher. Additionally, many paid internship opportunities give
strong preference to candidates who already possess their undergraduate degree.
You might land a position with a multinational company and choose to extend
your travels for years.

Ready for Take-Off?

When
you travel, you gain a new way of seeing the world — and seeing yourself. Whether
you go for a few short summer weeks or a longer time, you’ll expand your own
horizons, develop your self-sufficiency and make memories to last a lifetime.

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