Study Abroad Guide

If you are a student in your home country, you have always the opportunity to study abroad. It can be a really worthwhile experience, enjoyable, exhilarating and enlightening. It can also be difficult and frustrating. Getting to grips with studying in another country is not simple though the rewards are great if you succeed. Those who have experienced it often feel they have gained a good deal. They claim to have acquired a more balanced appreciation of different cultures, and a skill and sensitivity in dealing with cultural issues which has enhanced their subsequent studies. Some even suggest that the opportunity to study abroad has opened their eyes to the outside world and made them feel more like true global citizens. But because Study Abroad is not without its challenges, everyone is agreed that, to get the most out of it, you have to prepare carefully, to know what you are taking on and to be ready to take advantage of the opportunities that arise.

Study Abroad Student

Study Abroad is the term generally used nowadays for programmes that allow students in one country to do part of their degree studies in another. The main purpose of the programs is to enable you to study outside your own country. But many students who go abroad to study are seeking an overseas degree, which Study Abroad students usually are not. Other terms have also been employed – visiting study, occasional study, non-graduating study – to make this distinction clear. But they, too, have their weaknesses. As a Study Abroad student, you are not simply visiting another university, you are studying there. Nor are you studying only on occasions (or at least it is hoped not) but on a full-time basis. And you certainly will have the intention of graduating, even if not at your host institution. ‘Study Abroad’ has probably become accepted only as the least misleading term.

key element

The key element in these programmes which the term misses is that your studies abroad can count towards your degree at home. Whatever courses you take or projects you complete can replace whatever you would have been required to do had you remained at home. You don’t normally have to take work abroad with you and you don’t normally have to catch up on what you have missed when you return. The overseas work substitutes entirely for the work at home and is held to be equivalent to it in almost every way.

Academic Value

Over the last two decades, Study Abroad has become much more popular and its academic value more widely appreciated. Where once it was largely undertaken only by language students, it is now often a requirement for other degree subjects, particularly those with an immediate vocational relevance, like engineering or business, and those with a strongly international curriculum, like fine art or area studies. But the largest growth has been the result of students opting for Study Abroad not because it is a requirement but simply for its own sake.


There are many reasons for studying abroad. For nearly everyone, the primary appeal is academic, to deepen your knowledge and enhance your understanding. Undertaking some of your studies in another country offers you a new insight into, and a wider appreciation of, your subject or discipline. That is evidently the case when a period of Study Abroad is a requirement of your degree. But it applies much more generally, too. Many subjects have almost naturally an international dimension.

All the humanities, social sciences and applied sciences do, for example, because they all deal with culture and society. Studying in a different country brings an extra perspective to them. For other areas of study, the main purpose is usually to discover what your subject gains when the context and presentation are new. Most students think these gains considerable. It helps that academic life world-wide is sufficiently similar for you to be able to access another university system without much difficulty. But you will still find much that is unexpected and different, too. That is the appeal of Study Abroad and that is also the challenge.