This online-exclusive series is focused on the study abroad process to provide clarity and further information for UNC Charlotte students who are seeking to partake in an international education experience during their college years. The goal of this series is to encourage students to come out of their comfort zones and immerse themselves in global experiences that are worthwhile and life-changing.
As young college students, one of the crucial resources we should seek are experienced mentors, working professionals and those who have already walked the path we are currently embarking on. By creating relationships and interacting with these
individuals, we are able to learn from their experiences and most importantly – their mistakes. When I have conversations with those much older than me, one question I usually ask is, “What do you regret the most about your college experience?” The #1 repeated answer is “I wish I had studied abroad while I was a college student.”
That answer along with other factors is what ultimately led me to start my application process to study abroad. As intimidating as it may initially be, I did not want to risk the feeling of regret as a post-graduate with a never-ending list of what-ifs. As a study abroad alumni I may be biased; but I fully believe that studying abroad during college is a once in a lifetime experience that all college students should take advantage of. The opportunity to move to a different country, immerse into an unfamiliar culture and be surrounded by fellow students that have come for the same reason – to live beyond our little bubble, is of special value. Maybe you’ve already been contemplating about studying abroad and simply have been waiting for a sign, or someone to push you. This is your sign.
Once the decision has been made to study abroad, the first step is to do your research. To start off, answer the following questions: Which countries are you interested in? How long do you want to be abroad?
Deciding on which country is easy for some, not for others. If you need some inspiration, read study abroad blogs online, speak to UNC Charlotte students who have returned from being abroad or check out social media websites such as Pinterest. Make a list of the top three countries you want to go to. This is crucial because access to different countries is not limited to one single program. Depending on which country you want to go to, you may have to apply through a different program.
UNC Charlotte is partnered with numerous foreign universities all over the world including: Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and much more. By applying for one of the partner universities, you would partake in an exchange program in which one student from the same foreign university would come to UNC Charlotte (literally, in exchange) for your place. However if the country or school you desire is not partnered with UNC Charlotte, it does not mean you cannot go there. There are other exchange programs such as UNCEP (University of North Carolina Exchange Program) and ISEP (International Student Exchange Programs) that offer hundreds of countries and schools to choose from. Do not be afraid to ask questions and seek opportunities if you feel limited on your choices.
Different Time frames
Some students can easily be abroad for one full year and it still not be enough while others may be ready to come back home in ten days. Everyone has different preferences on their study abroad experiences. While it is important to be optimistic, remember to also be realistic with yourself. How long are you okay with living abroad? Be honest and truthful when you answer that question.
One beneficial characteristic of the UNC Charlotte study abroad program is its wide variety of programs that are available for both shorter and longer time frames. For students seeking a more thorough study abroad experience, the standard time frames for an exchange program are either one semester or one full academic year. While the exact range varies by program, the fall semester generally lasts from late-August to December and the spring semester, March to June. One the other hand, faculty-led programs are perfect for students looking to be abroad short-term. These trips are often conducted over spring break in March, or during summer vacation. In addition, having a UNC Charlotte faculty member and other UNC Charlotte students with you ensures a smoother transition into the foreign environment.
Each students has a different outlook on what they want their study abroad experience to be. From the country, Host University, program duration – there are many decisions to be made. Take the time to conduct research on each component in order to ensure your time abroad is uniquely yours.