We recommend that you begin planning your study abroad experience no later than one full academic term prior to your anticipated departure. Ideally, you will begin planning to study abroad during your first year. The earlier you start, the easier it is to find courses to fit your academic plans. You can best prepare by researching our programs to find the right choice for you, talking to our peer advisors and program managers and meeting with your academic advisors.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before picking a program:
- What do you want to study? What skills do you want to gain? Outside of your academics, many of our programs offer experiential and pre-professional opportunities that can give you a deeper insight into your field of study or future career path.
- Where do you want to study, and why? Is there a specific country or region that interests you? Is there a specific language you want to work on? If you already speak a second language, choose a destination that enables you to immerse yourself in it. Is there a part of the world that you are exceptionally curious about and want to explore? Do you prefer a big city or a rural setting?
- What do you want most out of the experience? Do you most want to learn, experience a new culture, gain work experience? Whatever your specific objective is, make sure that the study abroad program you choose can help you achieve it.
- How long do you want to be overseas? Options include anything from one week over the spring break to a full academic year. For many, however, especially those who have internships or jobs, or who have rigid course sequences, a summer program might be the best option.
- What is the program going to cost? While tuition and room and board account for the major expenses of studying abroad, there are other expenses involved, and you will need to plan for these as well. Among the more obvious are airfare, visa fees, and everyday expenses such as food and local transportation.
- How much freedom do you want or need? Study abroad programs differ widely in their structure, formality, and level of independence. Keep in mind that there are pros and cons to both ends of the spectrum, and that living in another country offers a degree of independence all by itself!
Pay attention to the requirements of the program as some programs have pre-departure classes, workshops, and or site visits in Pittsburgh prior to the start date of the program.
Discussion with your Academic Advisor
Be sure to talk to your Academic Advisor(s) about courses before you begin your application, especially if you plan to take courses abroad toward your major, minor or any Area Studies Certificate(s).
At Pitt Study Abroad, we try to provide as much information online as we can, but sometimes it’s easier to just come in and ask a question! Whether you are just getting started in your program search, have specific questions about a program you’ve already chosen, or want advice on what to do after your program ends, we’re here to help. Don’t hesitate to ask us anything related to your study abroad experience.