Making your study abroad dreams a reality doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process, and although it can be overwhelming, I’m here to simplify it for you!
Once you’ve figured out where study abroad courses could fit into your degree plan, you need to choose what type of program you want. Texas A&M, as well as the majority of universities, offers three main programs: Faculty-led, Exchange, and Transfer Credit. They also offer Intern/Research/Volunteer programs and Short-Group Trips. Since those are a little different than true study abroad programs, we will just focus on the first three.
The majority of big universities offer Faculty-led programs. Through these, you will travel abroad with professors and students from your university and you will take courses that are offered at your university. This is a great program for those who might not have room in their degree plan for study abroad courses.
If the thought of going abroad alone scares you, this program is a good option. While with the other programs you are never truly alone, they require much more independence than Faculty-led programs. Check with your school and department to see what Faculty-led programs they offer.
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The next program you could choose is an Exchange program. You will directly enroll into the foreign school of your choice where you will learn side by side with students from that country. Your university will have a relationship set up with the foreign institution so that you pay your university’s tuition to study abroad. This makes it one of the cheapest options. This program will immerse you into the culture and requires the most independence. If your study abroad budget is tight and you are looking to dive right into a foreign country, this program could be the one for you.
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Transfer Credit Program
The program I chose was Transfer Credit through which you have to find a study abroad company to travel with. I wanted a little more independence than the Faculty-led programs, but not all of the independence that comes with exchange programs. I will be traveling to France and I am still learning French. There is no way I could take a class in French with French students! I have the vocabulary of a six year old! Thankfully, Transfer Credit programs are right in between. I get to choose where I’m going and what I will be studying, and I will have a lot of independence once I am in Grenoble, France. For example, I can explore the town and hopefully join an international student organization. I also chose to do a homestay so I will be immersed in the culture and language.
Even though Transfer Credit Programs give you a lot of independence, you are never alone. Study abroad companies often have advisors and directors on site in the host country. If anything ever goes wrong or if you’re just missing home, they are there for you. It’s a nice balance of independence and support. The classes I will be taking will be tailored to my level of French. Even though all my classes will be taught in French, they will be taught with a six year old’s vocabulary! Plus, the company provides excursions to different locations throughout France and even one in Switzerland. There is no way I could travel that much without the help of the study abroad company!
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Another advantage of choosing a Transfer Credit program is the huge variety of locations. You can find a program to just about anywhere. Each company offers similar locations – they usually all have the same countries and big cities, but sometimes differ on smaller cities.
Since I chose a Transfer Credit program, my next steps were to figure out where I wanted to go and which company I wanted to go with. These two decisions seem easy, but they took me forever to figure out. With a little soul searching and help from a former study abroad student, I was able to make my decision on both.
Related Post: How to Choose the Study Abroad Company