We encourage UMaine students to challenge themselves when choosing a study abroad program. Some of the criteria we encourage them to look for in a study abroad program:
Programs, like students, have distinctive characteristics and thus it is important to find the right “match” between the student and the program. Your friend, sister, or teacher may have participated in a program that was “absolutely great” for them, but may not be a good fit for you. Thus, a glowing recommendation from someone who went on a program is not necessarily the most appropriate approach to choosing a program.
- Understand your needs and characteristics before choosing a program
- Explore several options and compare program characteristics
- Choose a program that fits your needs and characteristics
Your Needs and Characteristics
Ask yourself the following questions and get a friend or family member to confer with you on these topics.
- What type of courses do you need to take (major requirements, major electives, general education requirements or lower-division courses, electives)?
- What academic topics do you need (and want) to study (only your major, or a mix of academic disciplines)?
- Does your home institution approve experiential courses (ie, internships, field study, independent study, independent research, service-learning, touring)?
- Can you take courses in another language / are you sufficiently fluent?
- Do you have beginning or intermediate foreign language skills?
- Does your home institution have requirements about the number of weeks and/or contact hours the courses must fulfill to transfer credit?
- Would you feel comfortable living in a fast-paced, urban city where it is difficult to make friends and interact with locals living in a city?
- Do you feel comfortable using public transportation (buses, taxis, trains)?
- Would you prefer to live in a community where you can easily navigate your way, and meet local people?
- Does the weather bother you? Have you experienced the type of climate common to the host country you are considering?
- Are you a self-starter, outgoing, and self-motivated person, experienced in exploring new/different situations?
- Do you prefer functioning in a group with leaders and/or guides making decisions for you and being surrounded by others much like yourself?
- Do you have any dietary, medical or mental health needs?
- Do you want to become a “specialist” in one location (language and culture and history and current events) or do you want a comparative perspective of several different places and perspectives?
- Have your friends or family ever called you “high maintenance”? Do you have a high level of attention to conveniences, personal appearance, the newest fads or specific activities?
- Do you enjoy camping, hiking, backpacking, or “roughing it”?
- Do you have a good sense of how (and if) you will use alcohol in a mature setting? Have you ever been disruptive to others or put your well-being at risk with alcohol?
- Have you ever traveled before? Outside the U.S.? If yes, how long and where?
- How long have you ever been away from “home” before, away from family and friends?
Utilize an established relationship through your school that exchanges students with another designated college or university.
Participate in a program administered by an organization offering study abroad support services.
Explore colleges and universities in other countries, and directly enroll in a program that allows “transient” or “international” students. Participation in a direct enroll program is limited. Consult your Study Abroad Advisor before making any decisions.
Participate in a program administered by a U.S. college or university and taught by a U.S. professor.
Intern abroad for 3 credits as part of your study abroad program. Semester-long internships for 9-15 credits also available for most majors.
Complete a semester of undergraduate research with faculty and graduate students at a host university.
Full-time jobs teaching English available for UMaine graduates around the world.
Location, geography, language, population, economic/industrial development, cost of living, food, health and safety conditions, climate, ease of transportation, etc.
Do you have beginner, intermediate, or advanced language skills in the host country’s primary language? What is the English language fluency of the local population?
Community / City size
Cosmopolitan city, Urban city, industrial city, suburban city, town, rural community
Enrollment size, percentage of local students and international students, urban campus or enclosed campus, facilities available, teaching style, language of instruction, grading/assessment style, academic options, academic rigor, distance from housing
Homestay, residence hall, apartment, house, hotel, with all Americans, with all locals, distance to shopping, entertainment, school, transportation, shared or not, cost of living, where will you eat meals?
Image Description: Miranda Johnson, a Social Work major, studied abroad inBelgium. She traveled to Dinant, Belgium. She is pictured here right before she climbed to the top of that cliff. The views were stunning, but this one happened to be her favorite!