So You Want to Go Abroad? Advice for Students


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A street in Barcelona could be a potential abroad location.

Catherine Kemnitz, Staff Writer

I am currently studying abroad in Barcelona and I highly encourage anyone who is considering going abroad to go for it! I am so grateful to be  here, especially during such odd times; however, as I was going through the process of looking for a program, the biggest question on my mind was “will this actually happen?”. Because of this uncertainty, I was not thinking as much about the actual experience abroad. I am so happy where I am right now, but here are some questions I wish I had asked myself.

What do you want to get out of abroad?

Are you looking to improve your ability to speak a language? Do you want a break from your routine? Are you just hoping to study in a different country with your friends? There are no wrong answers and you could be looking to do a couple of different things. But setting a goal or intention for your time abroad can help make the experience more meaningful.

A special note about language! If mastering a language is something you are really committed to, that might limit the places you want to study. In bigger (more touristy) cities, many people know English. If you try to practice the language in restaurants and stores, there is a good chance you will get a response in English.

What kind of place do you want to live in?

It is important to think about what kind of environment you want to live in. Living in a city for four months is going to be a very different experience than living in a more suburban area. Some areas stay colder most of the year while others stay warmer, some see a lot of rain. You have the option to stay with a host family, an apartment with other students, or a student housing facility. 

All of these options come together to create one living experience. Given that this will be your home base for a semester, it is one of the more important questions to consider.  

Do I need certain credits to transfer while I’m abroad? 

If you are hoping to complete certain credits while abroad it is very important to check that those courses are approved or can be approved by Villanova. If you google “Villanova overseas course approval” you can find a listing of courses from different programs. On this list, you can see if a class has been approved and what Villanova class you could get credit for. If there are newer or less popular classes they may not be listed, in which case you can submit them for approval!

What can I do in my city?

Once you do choose where you want to go, you should figure out some things you want to do. A whole semester feels like a long time, but it flies by! Weekdays can be filled with school and weekends with travel. Every city has a lot to offer and it is unlikely that you can see it all. Make a list (or mental list) of the things you know you want to see or do before returning home.

How much do you want to travel?

In past years, some students opt to travel every weekend. While there are restrictions, traveling is still very much an option! If you want to travel most weekends you should think about staying in a bigger city. Flight and trains will likely be cheaper.

Additionally, leaving your Fridays open can help make travel more flexible. All programs will have some sort of attendance policy but you can choose to take classes Monday-Thursday. Some programs do not even offer Friday classes! 


Final Note

I would like to add that while these questions can help you optimize your study abroad trip, you probably are not going to find a place that checks all your boxes, but that is ok. Going abroad is about trying something new. You have to be flexible and welcome the unfamiliar. No matter where you end up, you are going to have a great time.