6 Factors to Consider Before You Choose Where to Study Abroad

No matter where you study abroad, you are guaranteed to have a thrilling, life changing experience. However, not all study abroad locations are created equal. It is surprising how many students pick a study abroad location on a whim, or because their friend had a great time, only to later wish they had studied abroad somewhere else. Here are 6 important factors to consider before you pick your new study abroad home.

1. Weather

Rain. Florence, Italy.

I was glad that I studied abroad in the summer, it hardly rained in Italy!

This may seem trivial, but trust me, its important. If you hate rain, maybe Scotland isn’t the best study abroad location for you. I purposefully studied abroad during the summer, so I could avoid dealing with any bad weather, as my college was located in sunny Southern California, and I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to winter. While weather may not be the deciding factor for where you study abroad, you should definitely consider it in your decision making process.

2. Language

Duolingo.

Pro tip: Use the app Duolingo before you head abroad to learn some language skills.

Are you planning on learning a new language, or do you already speak one? So many people underestimate how much easier it is learning a language while you are studying abroad. If learning French is important to you, then maybe France is your best bet. Likewise, if being surrounded by another language seems overwhelming to you, look into programs in English speaking countries like Australia or England.

3. Location

Telephone Booth. London, England.

I saved my trips to Paris and London for after I studied abroad, as both countries are quite far from Italy.

Do you plan on traveling a lot while you are abroad? If so, and budget is important to you, you should look for a country that borders (or is close to) most of the locations you wish to visit. Just because you may be studying abroad in Europe doesn’t mean that it is easy or cheap to get to where you’d like to go. You’d be surprised how many times I hear students planning on studying abroad in England tell me how their “must sees” are Italy, Spain, Greece, and Croatia. While it certainly is possible to visit all of these places, you will save time and money if you strategically choose your study abroad location.

4. Food

Gnocchi, Florence, Italy

One of my favorite things about studying abroad was all of the amazing Italian food I got to sample. If you already love a certain type of cuisine, odds are you’ll enjoy living in a country where you can eat it all the time. However, this also means that if you are a picky eater or dislike your host country’s food, you will be stuck eating it for a whole semester. While I don’t recommend choosing a study abroad country based solely on your food preferences, I can promise you food will play a role in your overall study abroad experience. 

5. Interests

Uffizi. Florence, Italy.

Many of my friends who studied abroad in Florence discovered a love for Art History.

Do you have a passion for British history? French fashion? Spanish art? Ancient Rome? Skiing? Whatever your interests may be, there is a study abroad location out there perfect for you. From great hiking in Chile to ancient ruins in Greece to art museums in Paris, some locations will align perfectly with your interests and can greatly enhance your experience abroad, others can inspire new interests.

6. Money

Money. Euro.

Lets face it, some countries and cities are more expensive to live in than others. If budget is particularly of concern to you, research how expensive it is to live in your top study abroad locations as well as exchange rates. You’d be surprised how much further a dollar goes in some countries than in others.

What factors are most important to you when deciding where to study abroad?

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