Make study abroad work for you!

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If you have gotten this far, keep going! You 1. want to study abroad and 2. have started researching. Great job! Now it is time to take it to the next level and make a realistic plan!

Things you need to think about:
1. How long can you do a study abroad?
Some study abroad programs have minimums or maximums on length of travel. This can include or exclude programs based on your availability. You need to consider how long you can be away from your institution and how long you will need in the other country.

2. What do you hope to accomplish?
You need to flesh out how beneficial this will be to your work. What’s your goal and how you will accomplish it. I guarantee an application essay will require this kind of information.

3. Do you have a semester/ year where this might work best?
There can be a certain time frame when you have finished classes or teaching responsibilities and might be most at liberty to go abroad. Make a rough plan of your graduate semesters.

4. Where and with whom will you work with?
Your adviser or department might have some connections with universities abroad where you can work with collaborators or have access to certain data sources and archives. You can also do some internet searches to see who is also working on topics in your field.

5. Where does your university have study abroad programs?
It would be so awesome if you could piggy back off of an established program but that might not always work out. For example, my university had ties with one university in Sao Paulo, but it was not the university that my lab had collaborators with. It helped that the study abroad office knew about Brazilian universities but I could not directly copy their established exchange program.

Answering these questions will help give you an idea of how this study abroad can work for you and give you the details to be persuasive with your adviser, department and school!

From my own experience, the Boren Awards is based on language acquisition. With language being the main focus, there is a lot of room to do your own thing. And I knew that I needed to spend a significant amount of time in Brazil so learning Portuguese would only be beneficial. I choose the year after I satisfied my class requirements and started working on my application. I was fortunate to have met my future Brazilian professor before my application so I could correspond with her and get help on my application. These were important steps in making a study abroad work for me!

Leave questions or comments below!


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