Hey student! I’ve been in your shoes. You’re longing for something more than class every day and night, submitting project after project, essay after essay. Sure, your experiences at university are amazing, the parties are fun, you have some great friends, but you are still wanting something more – you’ve got the desire to travel. Well kid, there ain’t no better time than now. You’re young, you’ve got the courage, and the student loans to back you. Here’s how you can do it.
Partnership Exchange Programs
Often your post-secondary institution will have exchange programs available; they are official agreements between two schools on opposite sides of the world. The institution will have multiple agreements, so students can have multiple locations to choose from.
In one of your years – for a semester, or a full year, or longer, – you essentially switch places with a student from another school. You travel to their country, and take classes at their university, and they do the same with you. You never actually get to meet the other person, nor do you even worry about them – it’s just for the purposes of balancing out.
While abroad, you take your own classes – often those you would be taking anyways if you were to stay at home. Because you switch places, you don’t pay international student fees, so it’s an affordable, easy way to go abroad.
There are plenty of external organizations outside your college or university that are looking to help you make the leap. One of the ones I’m familiar with is called ISEP – the International Student Exchange Program. These organizations allow you to travel to cities or countries that your school might not have connections with. They’re a bit more difficult than just applying to a formal exchange program at your school – but if you’ve got an international office – they’ve definitely heard of them. Start at their website, and with contacts at your school.
Short Term Language Programs
A quick google on “Learn (Language) in (Country)” will lead you down the path of a short term language program. You visit the country, immerse yourself in the language and culture, and come home with a new look on life, all in a few short months. Whether in home stay, or residence, your experience will truly be international for the few months you are there. These programs tend to cost money, but check around – you might have scholarships to sponsor it. Make sure to inquire whether or not these programs give you credits – you can transfer them back home towards your degree. I spent a few months in France improving my French at a university, and had a credit transfer back to my home school – best decision I ever made. Who doesn’t want to drink cheap wine, eat baguettes, and learn how to swear in a foreign tongue?
Taking A Break
While it’s easiest to take part in a formal program, it’s not always an available option, nor is it always the best for certain types of people. Depending on where you are in your studies, you might want to pursue the option of taking a break – for a semester, a year, or even two – however long you need to do some travelling. Obviously, you’re going to need to talk to an academic advisor before you make the decision to temporarily drop out – you want to make sure your completed credits are still there for you when you get back. Taking a break leaves your options open to just travelling on your own, or even taking classes at another university. You’ll most likely pay international student fees, so this option can be expensive, but it truly gives you full flexibility in where you go, and what you take. It’s like starting a new life, and enrolling at a new school.