10 Quick Tips for Study Abroad

March 11, 2016  |   Found in Editorial

This time next year I will be approximately 7,171 km away doing a Study Abroad program in Amsterdam. In case you didn’t know, the University of Calgary has partnerships with many universities in countries all over the world and they offer a multitude of programs for students to learn abroad. The full details can be found at www.ucalgary.ca/uci/abroad.

As someone who loves to plan, spending hours researching and comparing schools was thrilling for me. However, if this isn’t what excites you and you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, or you aren’t sure whether studying abroad is right for you, below are 10 quick tips to kick off your Study Abroad process.

  1. Make appointments with the Study Abroad advisors. They are super knowledgeable about all the different schools and it’s extremely helpful to keep in touch with them throughout your application process.
  2. One of the most important things to look at when choosing a school is what classes they offer and their relevance to your degree. Most schools offer course catalogues with lists of all courses offered. Sometimes they can be tricky to find so don’t be discouraged if you don’t find it right away. Also, be sure to check that the classes you’re interested in are offered in a language you are familiar with and are open to international students.
  3. Look into how your credits will transfer over. You can do this by looking at how classes at schools abroad compare to classes offered at U of C, some may be identical! You can also use the transfer credit database located at www.ucalgary.ca/uci/abroad/tcd/credit_search. This allows you to look at specific schools and the credits that will automatically transfer over. A word of warning though – this system is not the most up-to-date and some classes mentioned may no longer be offered. Nonetheless it can be a useful tool to get an idea of what classes a school offers. If you have lots of options/flexibility within your degree this may not be as important.
  4. One of the most helpful things I did when choosing where to study abroad was make an appointment with my department-specific undergraduate advisor. This is recommended to all students interested in studying abroad so make sure you actually do it. Your undergraduate advisor can let you know if the classes offered at one school will count towards your degree. Think of them as a more concrete and reliable version of the transfer credit database.
  5. Moving away from course related topics, look at the languages spoken in the countries you are considering. Most schools offer English programmes even if it is not the national language, but it can be a comforting fact to know whether people in the country may speak English or not. If not, don’t rule out the country, but be aware that there may be more pressure to learn the language – which could actually be awesome in the long run.
  6. One Semester, two semesters, spring semester….? No matter how long you go for your experience will be amazing, but choosing the length is totally up to you. You may find it easier to go for less time if certain course requirements must be met, but if it doesn’t matter you may choose to go away for a whole year. The thing to keep in mind is that some schools may require full year enrolment or have semesters that cut into ours at U of C. This can then be an easy way to rule out certain schools at the beginning stages.
  7. I found it very useful to make a folder on my computer where I saved all relevant documents and websites that I found helpful. Occasionally I would come across something on a school’s website that was helpful, but would be unable to find it again later. This was very frustrating and can be easily avoided if you keep a document with all your important links.
  8. When you apply to go abroad you usually apply for 2 or 3 schools in case your first choice doesn’t work out. My advice is to try to be equally as excited for all your options because no matter what you’re going to have an amazing time.
  9. I’m a huge YouTube geek and I probably have an unhealthy obsession with other people’s lives, but something that really motivated me was watching vlogs (vlog = video blog) from other people studying abroad. Some school websites also post student videos which can give you a realistic idea of what life in a certain country might be like.
  10. Relax and be excited! You’re going to have an amazing time so do your research, stay organized, ask if you need help, and don’t stress too much about it.

I hope you find these tips useful and that you consider broadening your degree and participating in a Study Abroad program!

Bye for now! Doei! Au revoir! Ciao! Adiós! Ha det! Hoşçakal!


Carly Checholik is in her 2nd year of Archaeology and Development Studies. She likes cuddling cats, drinking coffee, doing yoga, and watching the Gilmore Girls. Follow her on Instagram @carlyannac!