Study abroad is an exciting time in anyone academic career. The opportunity to live and study in another country is once in a lifetime for many. Students tend to return from their year abroad with new perspectives, connections and ideas. So when is the best time to start thinking about study abroad? In this article, we’ll outline the most important study abroad dates to be aware of.
How should you decide whether to study abroad?
Whether to study abroad or not can be a big decision. Obviously, the benefits are numerous. You’ll gain international experience and exposure. You may have the opportunity to learn a language. Your network of friends and colleagues may grow. And best of all, you’ll have memories for a lifetime.
Though, there can be drawbacks to studying abroad as well. For many, the cost of study abroad programmes can be burdensome. That said, financing options through your home institution are worth looking into. Additionally, there is always the question of missing out on what goes on at your home university. However, the opportunity to explore another country or city often outweighs this drawback for many.
In the end, deciding whether to study abroad or not will depend on your own personal and academic situation. If your course doesn’t offer any international opportunities, you may consider taking a year away from university to live abroad. Alternatively, there are much shorter-term study abroad programmes over the summer.
What is the best time to study abroad?
The best time to study abroad depends on a few things. First, you should check to see when your university offers study abroad programmes and for how long. Most commonly, international learning opportunities of this kind tend to be either semester- or year-long. Though, occasionally universities offer short-term study abroad programmes for just a few weeks.
Once you know when your home university offers study abroad programmes, you should have a careful look at your path to graduation. Figure out if there’s anything (course requirements, extracurricular requirements, thesis/dissertation) standing between you and the chance to study abroad. If so, speak with your advisor to make arrangements.
At this point, with restraints from university and your courseload out of the way, you should be beginning to narrow down when to study abroad!
When picking the best time for you to study abroad, consider where you’d like to go. Then, research what’s going on in that country or city during the fall and spring semesters. Think about things like cultural events, festivals, the climate, on/off-peak transportation costs, your course progression and anything else you feel is relevant.
Ultimately, much of this decision may come down to what your home university offers in terms of international mobility programmes. For instance, undergraduate students in the UK who take a year abroad typically do so in their third year, then return for a fourth and final one. For many, this is a rigid timeline.
In the US, many colleges and universities are more flexible in terms of the duration and timing of study abroad. It’s just important that you stay on top of your degree requirements and make sure your study abroad doesn’t unexpectedly delay your graduation.
In the end, there is no single best time to study abroad. Your decision should be based on finding what works best for you. For help with this decision, feel free to contact EDUopinions’ free, individual advisors:
Which are the best countries to study abroad?
Again, there is no single best country to study abroad in. What’s best for you may be different than what’s best for someone else. It all depends on what sort of experience you’re looking for.
To give you an idea of what options exist, we’ll discuss three of the most popular countries in Europe to study abroad in.
Study abroad in Spain
Spain is one of the world’s most popular study abroad destinations. And for good reason! The country welcomes millions of tourists per year as well as hundreds of thousands of foreign students. Thanks to a long-established university system, students can study nearly any course they’d like in Spain. (Just to be sure, check your host university’s course offerings).
Some of the reasons students are attracted to Spain include nice weather, delicious and varied cuisine and the opportunity to learn Spanish. Regardless of your course, many universities offer free Spanish lessons for students to help them advance their language skills.
For more information, check out our page on studying in Spain.
Study abroad in the UK
Another popular study abroad destination is the UK. The country is home to some of the world’s greatest universities and is recognized for being on the cutting edge of academic advances.
If English is not your first language, studying in the UK is a great way to improve your grasp of the language. What’s more, the UK welcomes hundreds of thousands of students from around the world each year. Particularly in student cities like Bristol and Manchester, there is no shortage of international young people to make friends with.
To learn more, check out our page on studying in the UK.
Study abroad in France
In addition, France is a great place to study abroad as a foreign student. Like with the previous two examples, many students come to France to improve their French language skills. For others, France’s many excellent business schools are what attract them to study in the country.
Obviously, lifestyle factors like delicious food and wine, a healthy work-life balance and plentiful cultural offerings make France a popular place to study abroad too. For European students on a budget, France may be the place for you. All public universities in France are tuition-free, and the government offers many benefits and discounts to students to help make life more affordable.
Want to learn more? Take a look at our page on studying in France.
Which are the cheapest countries to study abroad?
If you’re looking to study abroad on a budget, you might want to look into Eastern European countries. For EU students, studying in countries like Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary is highly affordable compared to options in Western Europe.
For the most part, public universities in these countries are tuition-free. But what really makes things less expensive is the cost of living. For example, studying in Poland requires a budget of around €400 per month. This amount includes any university fees, rent, food costs and entertainment.
What are the important study abroad dates?
Every study abroad programme and every university handle the process a bit differently. For this reason, we’ll provide a broad overview of important study abroad dates and tasks you need to know about to make it happen. (These time frames are assuming you embark on your study abroad in the fall term).
September – early October
One year ahead of study abroad programmes, universities typically offer some sort of information session, study abroad fair, or Q&A with study abroad alumni to help you get an idea of what options exist and what the experience is like. This is your opportunity to ask questions, shop around, and learn about what opportunities your university has to offer!
Try going into this part of the process with an open mind. Though you may have an idea of where you’d like to study abroad, you never know what exactly will be available and what new ideas you may discover.
Middle – end of November
November is typically one of the most important study abroad dates in terms of the application process. For many study abroad programmes, applications are due in the middle or end of November. Be sure to check your specific programme to know exactly when you have to submit yours.
For help with applying to a study abroad programme, check out EDUopinions’ various resources or reach out to an advisor for free, personalised help!
Ideally, your university should notify you of your application decision in December before the holidays.
January – June
At this point, you have likely secured a spot to go abroad with your home university. Now, you have to provide details—and in some cases, another application—to the host university you wish to study at.
In some cases, this is just a formality. In other cases, you may have to compete with the other pre-selected students at your university for spots at certain universities abroad.
June – July
Usually, at some point over the summer, your home university will have a pre-departure session or meeting. Here, they’ll likely remind/inform you of the specific details of your departure and your academic requirements.
September – October
Time to take off!
Study abroad is an exciting, enriching and once-in-a-lifetime experience. To make the most of it, it’s important to be aware of relevant study abroad dates before you embark on your journey. Hopefully, this article has given you an idea of timelines to be aware of. But to be sure, it’s best to check with your home and host universities for exact dates and times.
For more content on study abroad, check out these articles on why you should study abroad and the 10 best countries to study abroad in Europe.