If you are a current college student and or just interested in the idea it is definitely worth it to study abroad. One of my friends from Illinois State University was very studious and intelligent and her academic scholarship required her to study abroad, at least from 2004-2008 when she attended college. It is a great experience and will probably change the way you see things forever. To study abroad, simply visit the university’s Office of International Studies and Programs. Below are some programs that are an alternative to a study abroad in that they do not offer college credit and some even offer a teaching stipend.
- ciee.org – internships abroad and more, over 90 programs some requiring language proficiency and some not, places range from Ireland to Taiwan to Senegal to Chile.
- Cafe Abroad (cafeabroad.com) – this is more a magazine, but has some great information and features some good opportunities
- projects-abroad.org – countries range from Moldova to Romania to Argentina to Cambodia to Sri Lanka to Swaziland – You pay money but they offer support, provide accommodation, food, insurance
- and more
- GIC Argentina (gicarg.org) – again you pay money
- there are places like Berlitz (which is probably the most expensive), and the Alliance Française
- arcadia.edu/abroad – study abroad program, it is possible to complete a study abroad without being a student at a university but you might have to take at least one credit course
- myproworld.org – again you pay money as airfare is not included, but they offer accommodations and support, looks like a volunteer position
- peacecorps.gov – something to look into
- statravel.com – looks like they have some good package deals
You can study abroad through a university even if you are not a student there, but in most programs you probably have to at least attempt to complete one credit course. Many programs have rigorous entry requirements, but others are much more open. You should find a good fit and or something that works with your interests and budget and time frame and that you will at least enjoy a little. It might be possible to get an override into a more rigorous program if you speak with the instructor(s) and or staff at a Office of International Studies and or other individuals.
It is also possible to audit a class where you sit in but do not receive credit or take the exams and you might not be able to participate in the discussion and or foreign language practice. You also pay full price for an audited class, but some people like the idea because they use the class to sort of test the waters. They may have been away from school and or the subject for some time and feel comfortable auditing the class and then maybe taking the class or a similar class. Some professors do not like auditors as it can come across as a lack of interest or commitment to the class and the homework is usually never completed by them.
Of course, once you have your degree you can always teach abroad and get paid while gaining international/multicultural skills. South Korea and Japan are supposedly easier places to find a position teaching abroad. There your bachelor’s degree does not have to be in teaching, you do not need to know the language, and there are many openings for native English speakers and speakers of other languages especially European languages. Also, to be counted as a native speaker you do not need to have been born in an English speaking country. You could meet other requirements like having lived and studied with English speakers for a given number of years. In Japan they pay teachers more than in South Korea, but in South Korea ex-patriot teachers do not need to pay rent because the school will provide you with room and board. Typically, the amount of money you are able to save is usually larger in South Korea, but Japan remains more popular than South Korea for teaching abroad. I am not 100% sure, but I think Europe is the most popular ex-patriot destination for Americans teaching English abroad and or at least studying abroad and or travel destinations. Latin America seems rather popular also.
Just to mention a random traveling tip, make sure to check the airline website for how much weight they allow per suitcase and how much they charge for luggage overage charges. I took United Airlines only once and at the time they were charging an overage fee of $100 if you went over 50 lbs (23 kg) in any suitcase. I ended up having to remove items at the last minute. In a large suitcase you can easily fit 70 lbs (32 kg) especially if take your own toiletries.