Laura lives in the Boise, Idaho area with her husband and children. She holds a B.A. in secondary education (English and social studies) from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, a M.Ed. and Ed.S. in school counseling (K-12) from the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of South Alabama, respectively, and a Ph.D. in instructional design for online learning from Capella University. She teaches online at several colleges and universities across the country and has over 20 years of experience in education.
So You Want to Study Abroad?
Spending a significant amount of time in another country is very appealing to many high school students and studying abroad is one way to accomplish this. When you become a foreign exchange student, you get to travel, live with a host family, attend school in a foreign country, and earn high school credit at the same time! What could be better?
There are several factors to consider when deciding if studying abroad is right for you. In this lesson, we will discuss a few of these factors in-depth and you will be given valuable information that can help you decide if foreign study is really the way to go.
How Long to Go?
Studying in a foreign country doesn't have to take a full school year. While many foreign exchange students prefer to spend an entire school year in another country, you don't necessarily have to do that. Below are some different studying abroad options to choose from:
1. Summer Study: Studying in another country for 3-8 weeks during the summer is an option if you don't want to leave your high school for an entire school year, or if you just want to get a taste for what studying abroad is like. There are many organizations, which you can find on the Internet, that offer summer study programs. When you choose to study abroad for several weeks in the summer, you still get to visit a foreign country, live with a host family, and learn all about the language and the culture, but you are not tied in for an entire year. Plus, this is the least expensive option if money is an issue.
2. Semester Study: Many students choose to spend only half a school year, or a semester, in their foreign studies. This option is good for those who really want to have time to take in the culture, attend a high school with their peers, and get to know their host family. It is somewhat more expensive than a short summer program, but again, you will really get a taste for the place you are visiting.
3. Year-Long Study: If you are looking for the 'total' experience of studying abroad, then this is the option for you. By spending an entire school year as a foreign exchange student, you will come away with an intense knowledge of both the culture and language and you will very likely make lifelong friends in the process.
Where to Go?
Once you decide the duration for which you would like to study abroad, the next step is deciding where to go. Do you want to learn a foreign language in the process? If you do, then a country whose inhabitants speak a different language might be an option. Don't worry about picking up the language, either. Many study abroad programs offer intensive language study options before you begin the school year and, just by being in a foreign country, you will definitely learn the language!
If learning another language isn't for you, try studying in a country where English is spoken; such as Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, or New Zealand. Just like other countries where English is not the predominant language, cultural opportunities abound in these places and you will still come away with a rich appreciation for another country.
How Much Will it Cost?
Unless you are part of a scholarship program, you will likely have to pay your own way to the country where you intend to study. Airplane tickets and spending money are just two of the costs you will need to consider. While your host family will not expect you to buy your own groceries or pay them rent for a bed, you will be expected to pay for any extras that come up along the way, including extra travel.
Cost is one thing that deters many students from studying abroad. However, once you make up your mind that you will become a part of a foreign exchange program, you will likely have plenty of time to raise the necessary funds if you need to. Many students spend the year prior to their study abroad doing various fundraising activities to help defray expenses.
Studying abroad can be a wonderful experience. Determining how long you want to stay abroad, where you want to go, whether or not you feel you can become fluent in another language, and how much going abroad will cost, are just some of the factors to take into consideration. There are many, many sites on the Internet, offering great resources, which can assist you in this process. Once you decide that you really to want to study abroad, contact a few of these companies and they will help you.
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