Planning for studying abroad: What you missed from “What I Wish I Knew”

About 600 Brown students go abroad every year. Between researching, applying, and preparing, the process can be daunting. In order to help combat some of the confusion and give students a realistic look into the study abroad experience, an info session called  “What I Wish I Knew: Students Perspectives on Studying Abroad” was held last week.

The program started with upperclassmen saying where they went abroad, what they wished the OIP helped more with, and what piece of advice they could give. Keep reading to find some pieces of advice that kept coming up, for any stage of the process you’re in.

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Figuring out where you want to go:

No matter where you want to go or what you want to do, you have options. Maybe too many options. There are so many programs to choose from (or petition for) that you’re going to have to do some digging to find the one that fits right. One suggestion for narrowing it down is setting two goals that you want out of your abroad experience. Weigh all the programs based on those two basic criteria to start. So you want to learn a language? So you want to be fully immersed in a place without other American students? So you want to get a better understanding of foreign political systems first hand? Figure out where best you can do just that.

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6 things I learned at the Study Abroad Fair

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Studying abroad inspires spontaneous thumb wars with photographers

For some, our school is so near and dear that the idea of spending a semester off campus comes with some reluctance. Even so, studying abroad can certainly be an enlightening experience: an opportunity to develop one’s worldview through some bona fide cultural immersion and to have a great time in the process. The Study Abroad Fair held yesterday by the Brown Office of International Programs (OIP) offered Brown students a sample of those delights, as well as information on specific programs available to students. For those who couldn’t make it over to Simmons Quad, here are a few take-aways that I think you’ll find helpful:

1. Talk to Ned! I learned this one very quickly. Ned Quigley, Associate Director of the OIP, is incredibly approachable and knowledgable. He will help you with any questions you have about the study abroad process and will probably also resent me for distributing his e-mail address here: ned_quigley@Brown.edu. The OIP also has many other helpful advisors who will help guide you through the steps of applying to study abroad.

2. You can study abroad through Brown or through a Brown-approved program. You aren’t limited to programs facilitated directly by Brown. In fact most of the booths at the fair presented Brown-approved programs (e.g. Danish Institute for Study Abroad, Peace Corps, etc.). Additionally, if there is a program that you would like to see approved by Brown, but is not yet approved, you can submit an appeal to have your desired program approved by the Brown OIP.

3. Financial aid extends to study abroad. If you’re receiving financial aid, your full package, including scholarship aid, will transfer to your program. A study abroad advisor will also sit down with you individually and help you to come up with a budget for the trip. There will be more info sessions in October, so keep your eyes on that good old Morning Mail.

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