Making the First Move

25.09.2017 |

Episode #1 of the course How to prepare to study abroad by Susanna M. Olson


So, you’re thinking about studying abroad? It is an exciting thought, but what does it mean? How do you make it happen? Are you even the right person to try?

First of all, there is no such thing as a study abroad “type.” According to the BBC, the world’s international student population numbers around 3.7 million and is increasing by 12% each year. Students from all walks of life, from all over the globe, choose to attend university in a new country. They represent an incredibly diverse set of personality types and backgrounds.


Why Study Abroad?

Personal Growth. Perhaps the single most significant thing you will discover on your study abroad journey is yourself. Many of us have friends and acquaintances who claim to have “found themselves” while traveling. Turns out, those lofty claims may be more than a mere cliché. IES surveyed their study abroad graduates and found that 97% of students reported that studying abroad served as a catalyst for increased maturity and 96% said that studying abroad increased their self-confidence.

Employability. Personal growth is incredibly valuable, but it is not the only benefit of studying abroad. The world is becoming increasingly globalized. Learning to interact with disparate cultures and handle ambiguity in new situations is a valued skill.

Students who study abroad gain valuable experience that makes them extremely attractive to potential employers. In fact, according to studies done by Erasmus Impact (2013), 64% of employers think that international experience is important for recruitment. Also according to Erasmus, young people who study abroad are half as likely to face long-term unemployment as those who do not study abroad.



There are two main setbacks for students considering studying abroad: money and logistics.

Money. Because universities are pushing their students to study abroad, scholarship funding and financial aid is becoming more readily available. Also, in some places, tuition at your international university could be lower than at your home university (in parts of Europe, students are not required to pay tuition to attend public universities). Student discounts on everything from plane tickets to restaurants mean that you may never again be able to travel so cheaply.

Logistics. Other students are overwhelmed by the idea of approaching such a huge change. How do you make sure you are earning the right academic credits to graduate on time? How do you even start preparing to move to another country?

The best way to approach a large goal like moving abroad is to break it down into simple tasks. First, find a counselor to talk to. Fill out a scholarship form. Ask for more information about the program you are interested in. Piece by piece, form by form, chat by chat, you move forward in a simple and relaxed way. Sooner than expected, you will be ready to go.

It is extremely difficult to find someone who regrets studying abroad. When the going gets tough, just remember: You will only regret not going.

This course will help you prepare for your entire study abroad experience, from choosing and financing a program to packing your bags and exploring a new country. In the next nine sections, this course will break down the study abroad process into small manageable chunks so that before you know it, you will be ready to fly away on the adventure of a lifetime.

In the next lesson, we will take a look at a variety of study abroad programs and how you can choose the best kind of program for you.


Recommended reading

Purdue University Compilation of Study Abroad Statistics

College Tourist: 10 Reasons to Study Abroad


Recommended book

Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge and Build Confidence by Andy Molinsky


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