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How to Choose a Program

There is a lot to take into consideration when searching for the right study abroad program. It can be an overwhelming process. It's important to know that just because a program was right for your friend or family member, does not necessarily mean it's the right program for you. Remember that the study abroad staff is here to help you make this decision. 

Program Spectrum

Personal considerations:
  • Why do you want to study abroad? What do you hope to gain from this experience? Do you want to improve your foreign language skills? Experience a different academic environment? Contribute to your career development? Take courses you can't take at Salem State? Foster personal growth? Have the opportunity to travel?
  • What personal experiences can you draw upon that would help you succeed abroad? Do you have experience traveling internationally? How familiar are you with the country you're considering?
  • How well do you adjust to new situations? Do you need an extensive support network?
  • Where would you be comfortable studying, and where would you definitely not be willing to go? Consider the region, climate, customs, etc. 
  • Do you want to become more familiar with your own cultural heritage? 
  • Do you want to build on knowledge you've already gained or do you want to experience something totally new?

Academic Considerations:
  • Do you want/need to take courses primarily in your major/minor? Or do you need to fulfill gen. ed. requirements or free electives? Or a combination? Do you want to study the language and culture of the host city/country?
  • Do you want to participate in a traditional classroom based program, or a more experiential program, such as field work or an internship (and would your department chairperson approve that)?
  • Do you want to study alongside students who are local to your host country, or would you rather study with other American students? Or a combination? 

Practical Considerations:
  • Are you comfortable living in a large cosmopolitan city, or would you rather be in a smaller city or a rural setting? Do you want to stay in one location, or more than one location? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
  • How long do you want to be abroad: a year, a semester, a summer, a month?
  • When is the best time of year for you to go abroad? Do you play a sport? Is there a course you have to take at home during a certain semester? Do you have an important family event coming up? 
  • Do you want to live with local students, or with other American students? Do you want to live with a local family, or in a residence hall with other students?
  • Will you need to know a foreign language to succeed in your program? What language skills do you already have or will acquire before going abroad? Can you take classes in another language?
  • How much money do you have at your disposal to participate in a study abroad program? Do you have other resources that can be utilized? Can you use financial aid? Are you eligible for any scholarships?
  • Do you want to go abroad with a program that will work out housing, meals, and administrative considerations for you, or would you rather work everything out on your own? 
  • Does the program you're considering have staff on site to help you out in case of an emergency? 
  • Do you have health concerns or special needs that must be considered (medical conditions, learning disabilities, dietary restrictions)?
  • Are you interested in participating in any service learning or volunteer work while in your host country?
  • Does the program provide health insurance or will you have to obtain it on your own? What kind of medical facilities are available?

Click here to search programs!