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Studying abroad: The process from start to finish

Passport | Photo by Daniel Delgado | The Wright State Guardian

Passport | Photo by Daniel Delgado | The Wright State Guardian

Studying abroad can be intimidating at first; here are all the facts.

From start to finish, these are the steps a student will need to take to study abroad.

Find your program

The first step in the process of studying abroad is to choose a location and program of study.

Students can do this by visiting the University Center for International Education (UCIE) website and clicking on the study abroad tab and then “search programs.”

Students can also get additional information by visiting the UCIE office at E190 Student Union. Open advising hours are Monday through Friday from 1-4 p.m.

If students have questions or need help deciding which program is right for them, they can also schedule an appointment with a study abroad representative.

Everyone is encouraged to stop by the office at any time.

Start an application

The application is completely online and can be found on the UCIE website by clicking on a specific program.

Tasks will be outlined on the application for students to follow, which are specific to each type of program.

Some program applications may require an official transcript and, according to Megan Trickler, coordinator for the education abroad program, there is a $500 down payment with most programs when applying.

Students will also need to meet with a faculty member to make sure that they are accepted and the program is a good fit.

Afterwards, an application counselor will reach out to help with the next steps.

“It’s like a concierge service,” said study abroad student Brianna Graham. “You basically just fill out the documents and they submit it for you and make sure you have everything collected.”

Establish a budget plan

The third step in the process is to meet with a financial aid representative to layout a budget plan.

There is a common misconception that study abroad is extremely expensive, but there are many opportunities to lower the cost of programs that are already designed to be affordable.

“If it was too expensive, I never would have studied abroad,” said Sam Wood, a study abroad peer mentor for UCIE. “I’m your average poor grad student.”

Meeting with a financial consultant will allow students to understand the full cost of the program, what additional expenses there will be, and possible scholarship and financial aid opportunities that are available.

There are scholarships in the UCIE office, different departments at Wright State and also at the federal level and sometimes in the community as well.

Different scholarships have different due dates so it is important that students get a head start and do not wait until the last minute.

Long-term vs. short-term programs

The next step in the process differs a bit depending on if the student chooses a long-term or short-term program.

Long term

A long-term program refers to a program that lasts the duration of an entire semester or summer.

For these programs, the next step would be to enroll with the outside organization as well as UCIE. In addition to this, students will also choose housing options and classes at this time.

Advisors at UCIE will help students determine how their courses abroad will count toward their degree at WSU.

“If you do some of the third party programs, we waive your Wright State tuition and you only pay the fee for the program,” said Trickler. “Depending on where you go in the world, that can be very comparable or sometimes even cheaper than it is here at Wright State.”

Students then work with the third-party provider to make sure they get their airline tickets and housing and classes finalized.

Short term

A short-term program refers to programs that are shorter than a semester and are often called “Ambassador Programs.”

These programs are led by Wright State professors and are groups of only WSU students.

According to Trickler, short-term programs are usually two to three weeks long and include one three-credit-hour class.

“Some of these programs are very open and general,” said Trickler. “You learn a lot about their history and their culture and their traditions and what it’s like to live there.”

Almost all of these programs are open to anyone, however, most are geared toward a specific major or field of study.

Once students have applied and are officially accepted into their program, they will then meet with the group of students that they will be traveling with.

Next, students will learn what they need to travel, buy their airline tickets and make sure they have a passport.

UCIE is a passport processing center and can have one ready within six-to-eight weeks of beginning the process.

A rewarding result

Although the process may seem long or exhausting, students will forget about it all once they are finally studying abroad.

“The paperwork is hard at first, but honestly, once you get through that, it’s amazing,” said Wood. “Once you set foot on the ground it’s like, ‘Wow every single piece of paper was worth it.’”

Each study abroad experience is going to be different for each student and each place; some students’ biggest takeaways include making connections with other people and learning about a new culture.

“When I studied abroad in Germany, I met two girls from Boise, Idaho,” said Wood. “We became such good friends that I still visit them every summer.”

According to Wood, studying abroad has opened up her eyes to a different mindset and helped her to become more of a global citizen.

“It sounds cheesy, but it truly changes your life when you begin to understand how people around the world live daily,” said study abroad student Camryn Potter.

Other students argue that studying abroad allows people to get out of their comfort zones and explore.

“‘I think a lot of people stay within their little friend groups because that’s what’s comfortable,” said Graham. “I think what’s cool about studying abroad is that you have no choice but to be uncomfortable. In a different country there are a lot of opportunities to have difficult and challenging conversations.”

Without a doubt, coming home will be the hardest part of the entire trip.

“Enjoy the journey as much as you can because one day you’ll look back and miss it,” said Potter.

Makenzie Hoeferlin