Preparing to go abroad
Program Manager, Global Sustainability Studies Program
It is that time of year again. All across the United States college students are finishing up classes and embarking on finals week. There is a panicked energy on most college campuses, at least there is here at Arizona State University. I find it fascinating to watch the frenzy of students running from classes, to the library, waiting to pounce on a professor to plead their case for a higher grade. I love the chaos and a little part of me loves to see who will win – the professor or the student. While sitting in almost any hallway or building can feed my people watching needs, I must admit that I have a favorite place on campus during finals to people watch: the study abroad office.
Just under 300,000 students study abroad each year in the United States. I have had the privilege of working in international education for almost a decade and to me it’s the most fulfilling work I can imagine. I have personally helped over 1,000 students study abroad and hearing their stories and watching them grow has been incredible.
I love seeing how different students approach going abroad. Some students are only focused on the excitement of seeing and learning about a new culture. There are students who are curious about their adventure, but don’t really want to think about it too much before they actually arrive. There are also those students who are a little panicked because they are not quite sure what they have gotten themselves into.
If you listen to students before they leave on a program you can hear a myriad of questions including safety and health concerns, questioning if their academic plan will stay on track or just wanting to get tourism advice for their free time.
There are however questions that students don’t ask. If I were offer my advice to students going on a study abroad program, here are my three answers to the questions students don’t always think to ask: