A Simple Step-by-Step Guide on How to Study Abroad

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 28, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're a student with a desire to travel, you may want to consider studying abroad. Studying abroad offers you a unique educational experience where you can enhance your knowledge and explore another culture. Learning more about the different study abroad programs and how you can pursue one can help you make an informed decision. In this article, we explain how to study abroad, review the ways you can do so, and discuss why you may choose to pursue one of these programs.

How to study abroad

Learning how to study abroad can help you decide whether this type of opportunity is for suitable you. When people choose to study abroad, they decide to attend school or work in a country other than their own. These students may leave their homes for one semester, an entire year, or the entire length of a degree, which may last up to four years. The experience of studying abroad varies immensely based on the destination you choose. Here are the steps you can follow to study abroad:

1. Conduct research

Before you make any decisions, it's important to conduct thorough research on various programs, locations, and opportunities available to you. When you begin researching, try creating a list of programs that most interest you. Certain details to research include:

  • areas in which you're interested

  • courses offered by the universities in those areas

  • other types of programs available in your preferred location

  • admissions requirements

  • cost of living

Related: What Is a Gap Year? (Definition, Examples, and Benefits)

2. Decide where to apply

After conducting research, choose a few places to apply. You can apply to multiple places as you may not get accepted into each one and if you do, you can pick your top choice. You might pick programs in different countries or choose one country and apply to multiple programs. Ensure you choose destinations that match your interests so you can settle into the new country easier.

When you're applying, follow the directions and requirements carefully. Otherwise, you may miss a deadline or forget to include important information, which can impact whether you're accepted into the program. Once you submit your applications, you can wait until you get all your results before choosing to accept an offer.

Related: What Are Gap Year Programs? (Types, Examples, and Benefits)

3. Apply for a student visa

Once you receive your offers and choose to accept one of them, you can start the process of applying for a student visa. The director of the program may help you with the process or provide instructions on how you can apply for a visa yourself.

Processing the visa application may take time, so it's important that you apply as soon as possible to ensure you're ready to leave before the start of your program. Just like with your program applications, it's important to ensure your visa application includes all the necessary documents and information to improve the chance of it being approved quickly.

Related: Working Abroad: Teaching Jobs (Plus Tips for Finding Them)

4. Make travel arrangements

Booking your travel arrangements early can help you save money, but if you don't have visa approval yet, you may not be able to travel when you expect. If you still want to book ahead, try finding a flight with a fair change or refund policy, so you can change the dates if necessary. Aim to arrive a few days before your program starts, so you have time to settle in and get used to the time change if there is one.

Related: 7 Steps on How to Work Internationally Successfully

5. Prepare accommodation for your arrival

When booking your flights, you can also book accommodation so you have somewhere to stay when you arrive. Some programs may offer accommodation, like a dorm in a university or a room with a local family, but if yours doesn't, you can look for private accommodation ahead of time.

You can look for an apartment online, but you may want to see it in person first before agreeing to a lease. If this is the case, you can book a temporary hotel stay for your first few days in the country. Then, you can view properties in person to get a better idea of what you like, helping you find a place you can comfortably live in for the duration of your stay.

6. Determine your budget

When making your travel arrangements, consider creating a budget to ensure you have the necessary funding for the program and the cost of living in your destination. Some programs offer grants or scholarships for international students, but if yours doesn't, ensure you have enough savings before you move. Depending on your visa, you may be able to get a job in your new destination, so consider that when making your budget as well.

7. Get involved

Once you arrive and start your program, try to get involved with the local community. This can help make your transition easier and improve your experience in your new home. Your program may even host networking events to help students get to know one another. Attend these and talk to as many people as you can to make friends with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Related: What You Need to Know About Working Abroad

Ways to study abroad

Students and professionals can study or work abroad in the following ways:

  • International universities: One way to study internationally is to apply directly to a school in which you're interested. You might apply to earn your bachelor's degree or an advanced degree, such as a master's degree or doctorate.

  • Exchange program: You might apply to participate in a student exchange program, where you live in the home of a host family for a specific period. It's common for a student from that country to visit your home country as well.

  • Volunteer program: Another option is volunteer work in an international country, whether you apply for a governmental program, work directly with an organization, or travel independently. The specific volunteer program you participate in determines the length of time you travel, and sometimes the program determines your destination.

  • Work-study program: Some universities or third-party programs offer the ability to both work and study in a different country. These programs provide valuable work experience while providing foundational knowledge to supplement the work placement.

  • University program: Sometimes, universities organize and conduct their own study abroad programs for their enrolled students. It's important to research what programs may exist through the university you currently attend.

  • Field research: If you're conducting research to complete your degree, consider choosing a subject that requires travel outside your home country. This provides an opportunity to research a different context and live internationally.

  • Language school: If you're interested in learning a second language, consider attending a language school in a different country. These programs may offer educational knowledge about the language while providing real-life situations for you to practise speaking, reading and writing.

Related: Abroad Summer Jobs (With Tips, Benefits, and Common Types)

Why choose to study abroad?

There are a large variety of reasons that students may choose to study abroad. Each study abroad program offers unique features based on the length, focus, and location of the program. This variation may impact your reasoning for choosing to study in another country. Some reasons that people may choose to study or work internationally may include:

  • Cultural immersion: Some students and professionals feel drawn toward the prospect of cultural immersion. Rather than visiting a new place as a tourist, they want to live within the community to experience the country's culture in a different way.

  • Language proficiency: Cultural immersion through studying abroad may provide people with the opportunity to become proficient in a second language. This may be an influential factor in a person's decision to study internationally.

  • Global mindset: Living and learning in a place you're unfamiliar with provides an opportunity to develop a global mindset. Witnessing other ways of living, teaching, working, and communicating with others can equip students and professionals to effectively and thoughtfully engage with the world.

  • Employment prospects: Another motivating factor for completing a study abroad program is to increase your employment prospects after you return home. The focus, educational level, or location of the program may have a positive impact on your resume as you begin applying for jobs.

Explore more articles