Study Abroad: Summer or Semester?

Hey everyone!

Today I wanted to talk about something that was brought to my attention when I sought out my University’s academic advisor about my decision to study abroad for Spring of 2017. Though my minor is in Japanese, she seemed rather concerned that I would choose a semester over summer; I was equally shocked that she would assume I’d go for such a short length of time! If you’re thinking about studying abroad, take note of these points, they might just help you come to a conclusion or change your original plan.

  1. Why are you studying abroad?
    This may seem like a simple question, but it’s an important one to say the least.  If the school offers a summer program (or semester) for your majorlarge that is prestigious and will look bangin’ on your resume in the future, then go that route. If it’s to learn and experience the culture of that country, well, you might want to stay a little bit longer than a month/month and a half.
  2. Financial Aid coverage
    No, this does not apply to all forms of financial aid, but a majority of them do not offer coverage for summer or they require a certain amount of credit hours to be eligible. For me, this means 12 credit hours a semester or 9 a summer, and my summer is only covered by about a fourth it would be for a semester. This added cost would theoretically make my stumblr_n5582bN9NX1tv76txo1_500ummer study abroad cost only a smidge less than a semester session, and I would have to take 9 credit hours which would leave me almost no time outside of studying to explore and learn about the country. At first glance, summer may seem like the economical option, but in reality, not so much.
  3. Travel
    Going on from my last post is travel; just how much do you want to see while you’re in the country? If your main focus is school and only school, this may not matter so much for you, but if you want to see the ins and outs tumblr_inline_mlh6azuuu61qz4rgpof the cities, towns, and countrysides, then you might want to seriously consider how much time this will take you. Think about exploring a major city in your country; yes, you could see the main sites in a day, but you can experience so much more of it on day two, three, and so on. Don’t underestimate how long it may take to really feel fulfilled in  your explorations. I promise you, whether it’s a month or four months, time will fly by and what you got to see is what you got to see.
  4. Connections
    Remember your first day of class of your first year in high school? Looking for that one person that you knew, and not making friends with the people around you until a few weeks in? Imagine that all over, except this time in a new country tumblr_lnvvunZll41qbvovho1_400surrounded by people who may or may not speak your language (or at least fluently); just how long do you think it will take to feel acquainted with them? Yes, I do think that lasting friendships can happen from a summer study abroad, but I think the longer that you get to know someone by hanging out with them, traveling with them and overall just experiencing new things with them will really strengthen that relationship and be more satisfying.
  5. Weather and Festivities
    This may seem a little strange, but it is something to really consider. In fact, it’s the reason why I chose spring over fall for study abroad; I wanted to see the sakura bloom. If you absolutely despise the cold, then spring or summer will be your best option; on the same note, if you hate the heat, then fall (or even spring) will be your best bet. This is important because tumblr_mvd64uv2161rhz43wo1_500after all the frustrations and hard work, the last thing you want to be upset and uncomfortable about is something like the weather. Also keep in mind festivities in the country you’re looking into. I chose spring in Japan because of the beautiful sakura blossoms, but someone may want to go in the summer to experience the Hanabi (firework festivals) or in winter for the New Year.

    Study abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and truly requires you to think throughly about what you want to get out of it. Like I said before, whether it’s one month or five, it’ll pass by in a blink of an eye and it’s entirely what you make of it with the time you have.


Study Abroad: Filling Out the Application Early

Hey everyone!

Since the Fall semester has just started at my University, I have seen numerous posts about students leaving in the coming days for study abroad, and the summer attendees being welcomed home. This inspired me to meet with the Office of International Programs at my school to see when I should start filling out the application for my Spring 2017 study abroad in Japan. Their response? By this November! I was really shocked by this because I had no idea the slots for Japanese exchange would fill up so quickly, but she assured me they usually fill up about nine months to a year in advance.

The earlier you decide to study abroad, the better. I’m giving myself a little less than a year and a half so that I have ample time to prepare and save money for it. However, the biggest part of this process is the application stage! Sometimes you may need references or an official transcript in order for your application to be eligible, and those are documents that take weeks to get ahold of.


Another piece of information that surprised me was the cost of filling out an application, which is why most people hold off on it. For me, just to turn in the application costs $200, however this is a small price to pay to potentially secure your spot for a semester that’ll cost you around 10 thousand dollars (without tuition). The mistake people make here is waiting until the semester before study abroad when they are certain they have the rest of the funds to go, but at that point have already lost a seat for exchange and now have to wait for someone to back out, which is extremely disappointing after all the months of hard work put in!

For those who may have already been aware of the lengthy application process and cost, there is still one very important reason to fill out the application early, and that’s for scholarships. Filling it out early means receiving a response early, and you’ll need that document in order to apply for scholarships that will take the financial stress off your shoulders. In my scholarship search for students wishing to study in Japan, I have found a few that start in the Spring that are eligible for a year from that date (since Japanese schools start in Spring). This is important for those studying for a Spring semester because it means you have to apply for that scholarship a year in advance to receive it.


That’s it! I hope any of you that wish to study abroad in the future find this useful, I plan on doing a series of posts on how I am preparing for study abroad, so keep an eye out 🙂