Study Abroad: navigating the long and winding road

For many students, the opportunity to study abroad is a dream come true. When that dreams becomes a reality, the opportunities that are available to those pursuing international education are endless.

Getting to that point, however, is not without it’s challenges. It takes an incredible amount of time to research the destination that offers each student the most fulfilling program based on the individual. Should they begin with a short-term program – one week, one month? Or should they dive in to an extended term program often one or two-years? Do they offer English-first university programs? Can I even afford tuition? Where will I live? Perhaps they should volunteer and become familiar with what is sure to be a new perspective of a foreign culture.  To those who have never traveled abroad, nonetheless studied, this can be a grueling and overwhelming endeavour.  

There are, however, agencies in place to ease the stress and anxiety and to assist with the transition to another country. Many of the top study abroad destinations in fact will have a variety of resources available to students, offering a number of different services with a host of information.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is currently the top destination for U.S. students seeking international studies with almost 40,000 (representing approximately 12% of the total study abroad students from the U.S) enrolled in post-secondary institutions across the U.K. A popular destination because of its similarities to the United States, it offers students the experience of a diverse culture. With many of the world’s top university located here, it’s not surprising that the U.K. would offer a number of resources to facilitate the needs of these individuals.

StudyAbroad UK1, for example is an organization that is located in the U.K., and through student exchange, promotes cultural awareness. They offer a variety of programs for those considering to the move across the pond, including high school, university entry and volunteer programs to name a few. Arranging for students to reside with a typical family in a home setting, StudyAbroad UK offers students from other countries to experience a genuine lifestyle while attending high school or college in preparation for entry to university.

Study In UK2 provides a guide of information for those students that are looking to apply or attend specifically institutions of higher education as well as details and statistics about international students in the U.K.


Italy, the second most popular study destination for American students sees many enroll in the Babilonia Center for Italian Studies3. Based in Sicily, this institution is familiarly known as the Italian school for foreigners.  For those considering a change, getting feedback from peers is available on the Babilonia website. In addition, all available Study Abroad programs are explained in depth and include program details such as an overview of the course, dates, tuition and application deadlines.

For those pursuing a business education, CIMBA Italy4 provides students with the chance to receive global education while studying domestically and abroad. Through their partnership with more than 35 universities in the United States, they create a network that encourages cross-cultural academic experiences. With an academic partnership already in place, CIMBA study abroad students are largely taught by Consortium faculty at member5 schools, allowing for a smooth transfer of credits back to their home institutions.


GoOverseas6 outlines for newcomers to Spain – which currently holds the third spot in destination choices – a comprehensive list of Do’s & Don’ts for students. With the goal of enabling students to flourish from the study abroad experience, the list is itemized with ways to ensure that individuals should immerse themselves in the culture to make the most of their time in Spain.

If learning Spanish is a priority, students will definitely want to explore Spanish Abroad, Inc.7 . Specializing in Spanish, they offer insight into a variety of programs for individuals at all levels in several areas.


While sitting in the fourth place on this list, students love France. Westerners with a passion for everything from culture to food to art, France also is home to many popular universities. Campus France8 is a service that is provided by the Embassy of France. In place to promote the French higher education, they assist students living in the United States who wish to enroll in a university in France, with a duration exceeding 90 days. 

The ISA student blog9 is as popular a blog for those already in France as it is for those considering a relocation to study in France. Sharing tips and stories from peers with the greatest insight will likely prove to be the most credible source of first-hand experiences.  


Rounding out the top five most sought after study destinations – Germany. It’s rich cultural experience, coupled with the many distinct universities, and the fact that it’s home to the headquarters for the United States Air Forces in Europe make Germany a popular stop for study abroad students.

GoOverseas10 has compiled a list of “What You Need to Know ..” when studying in Germany. More of a checklist, it shares with newcomers common facts and details about the German people and their culture to help with the general transition and to ease into the environment. Wherever the path leads, the road less travelled can be daunting. But to the true adventurer, the fear is best overcome when faced. Challenge students to explore all their options and encourage global education. There’s no better way to learn about what lies outside the borders of the United States.


By Janine LaRue