Today’s post for you is a joint article, written by Rebecca Avery and Natalia Banfi. Rebecca is the Coordinator of International Academic Programs on campus, and Natalia is the Student Assistant Coordinator with the Office of Global Affairs. Both of us are study abroad success stories: Rebecca studied abroad in London for a semester as an undergrad, and Natalia, who is an international student from Italy, studied abroad in Fall 2013 in Shanghai, China.
Rebecca (on the left) and a friend in front of Westminster Abbey
Natalia (on the right) and her sister on the island of Elba
First things first, start thinking if a semester or academic year overseas is right for you. Here are some important questions you should ask yourself:
1. When would I go, if I did study abroad? (Fall/Spring? Full year program?)
One of the keys to studying abroad involves figuring out the best time during the school year for you to go. Sometimes, majors, minors, or concentrations involve a particularly crucial course that is available in one semester, and students are encouraged to plan their study abroad experience around this course. This is also true for sports (with active seasons), committees, and other clubs/jobs on campus. Talk to your advisor, your coach (if you play a sport), or other students with similar commitments to see how they consider study abroad. If you plan ahead, you CAN study abroad!
Other things to factor in are family commitments during the academic year, like weddings or important graduations to attend. You should also check out the academic calendar year of the country where you are considering studying. For example, in Germany, the fall semester runs through February. Check out our Program Descriptions to see the program start and end dates for each program.
2. What do I want to gain by going abroad that I couldn’t gain at Haverford?
Consider why you’d want to be traveling abroad, and what you want your goals to be. Can you accomplish your goals in the same way at Haverford as you would while abroad?
Here are some ways that study abroad can transform and positively impact your college career. Which of these are important to you?
- Language immersion
- Fulfill language requirement in one semester (at some of the programs)
- Specific courses (i.e. Nordic studies in Sweden)
- Practice independence
- Take a break from the routine, while still furthering your academic studies
- International work/abroad experience
- Studying abroad has significant career benefits, and will make you stand out in an interview
3. What kind of experience do I want?
The abroad programs available to Haverford students are diverse, and the kind of program that is best for you will not necessarily be the same as your friends’. Explore the Factors to Consider section of our FAQ to learn more about the different kinds, and also consider what each individual program may bring to the table– our Program Descriptions will include that information. Some programs may involve an international internship component that is integrated into the curriculum (so you’re going to school and interning at a company/organization), others promise a fully immersive language component where you can test your language skills every day. Others involve an intense single-course of study for students who are interested in delving into a single academic interest, or fulfilling a language requirement with courses in the host culture’s language.
4. How can I finance study abroad?
Just under 50% of all Haverford students who studied abroad last year are on financial aid. Studying abroad in certain countries is more expensive than in others. If you would like to compare costs of living check out: www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living. There are many resources available to make the trip more affordable, and remember that your Haverford financial aid travels with you! Some students are even eligible to receive an airfare refund for purchasing plane tickets through their financial aid package with Haverford.
Stop by the study abroad fair on Saturday, October 25 from 1:00pm-5:00pm in the first floor hallways of Stokes. You can meet with representatives from programs on our approved list and ask them any questions you have or share your concerns.
We will also be having another information session on Wednesday, November 19 at 6:30pm in Stokes Auditorium. The Office of International Academic Programs is also very excited to be sponsoring Study Abroad Conversations, a series of discussions and presentations given by students who have studied abroad in the past about a specific topic they learned while overseas. Keep an eye out for these talks throughout the semester- they will be a great way to learn more about the culture of a specific country that you may be interested in studying abroad in.
Make an appointment with Dean Mancini or stop by Chase 213 to talk to me and pick up some program brochures and check out the incredibly helpful black binders. Write down all of those concerns/worries that you have, and let us help you sort things out. Remember, we are here to help you with the process, and there are tons of resources for you to use- all you have to do is ask!
Oh, the places you’ll go!