Why study abroad?
For higher education students, teachers, and researchers, studying abroad is an experience that can hardly be replaced by studying hard at the library or lecture room. The newly acquired knowledge and understanding are superseded by cultural and personal experience. For the study abroad programme to deliver for you, however, you need to prepare for it and to think about what your expectations are. Before you travel to study abroad, your primary task is to:
1 Define your goals
Why would you like to study abroad? Motives vary, and academic reasons are not always the strongest. It could be a longing to see and live in a place or culture, improve language skills, gain independence, etc. These incentives may naturally be a good reason, but you should be aware of them.
2 Decide how you want to achieve your goals
In which region, country or city would you like to study? Why did you choose this particular venue? Is any other venue also an option? How long would you like to study abroad (summer, semester, year)? When would you like to start? Do you have any idea regarding the funding of your studies? How well do you speak the language of the country?
3 Clarify your studies
Are you ready to handle the difficulties of studying abroad? The study method applied in another country is likely to be considerably dissimilar, and in combination with language problems it may lead to a number of strenuous moments or sleepless nights. What subjects or courses would you like to take? How do these improve or complement your programme courses back home? Will your department recognize the subjects you read while abroad? Do you have any specific requirements concerning the degree or programme? The requirements of a summer school of English and of a PhD programme will naturally differ. Would you like to graduate abroad? If so, will the degree be recognized, will it for example help you find a better job? How well are you doing academically? The better, the greater your chances to win the scholarship and the more you probably will capitalize on the resources. While an outstanding academic performance does not warrant success, it testifies to the zeal to study.
4 Frankly assess your personal predispositions
Are you good at coping with new situations? You are bound to face many while abroad!
5 Time your study abroad
You need at least a year to prepare for your study abroad, especially if you do all the correspondence yourself. If it is a partner programme or summer school, the time needed will be shorter. Arrange the visa ahead of time.