Finding Your Program
Sometimes, there are perks to have a strict major. Your options are generally between one or two programs. It takes the hassle and anxiety out of having to choose from a plethora of countries, cities and providers; however, even choosing between those two programs can be difficult. What if I regret it later? What if the courses aren’t what they sound like? This place sounds amazing but…
Well, this post is here to help you wittle away all those options and come out on top with a program you’ll feel comfortable with, assured about and excited to take part in.
How to Narrow the List
When students start out in pursuit of an education abroad, they’ll often find themselves faced with many many options–especially if their major is flexible such as English or Anthropology. While it may be fun to look at the pretty catalogues and websites of all the different countries and cities, it can quickly become overwhelming for most. We recommend that students, after glancing over some different countries take a minute and ask themselves where do they want to go. Below are a few helpful questions.
1.) Why do I want to study abroad?
2.) When do I want to go? During a semester–fall or spring? For a whole year? Maybe just a couple weeks in summer?
* The answer to this question (if you want to go during the school year) may depend on your major requirements for when you choose to go. Consult your academic advisor of courses needed during that semester you’ll be abroad*
3.) What am I hoping to gain by the end of my education abroad? Language skills? A new perspective on your major? Cultural awareness?
4.) What type of climate/area do I want to be in? Warm weather? Sandy beaches? Forests?
5.) Would I be comfortable learning a new language?
*Keep in mind, no matter where a student studies abroad, all of their classes will be in english*
Once you’ve started answering these questions, your long list will naturally shrink. Finding a program won’t be as daunting as it once was.
What to do with Your Narrowed List
So, you’ve got the list narrowed down to 3 or 4 programs (give or take a couple). Where do you go from here? This is where you start looking closely at the course offerings and working with your academic advisor on what you need while you’re abroad. Maybe you only have to worry about Gen Ed’s while you’re gone. If that’s the case, your option will be more heavily weighed on personal interest rather than academic obligation. Likewise, some students don’t mind mind staying at university an extra semester if it means going to a country they really want to travel to. You’ll have to weigh your personal interest against your academic major at this point. While UMaine can guarantee credit transfer no matter where you go, we cannot guarantee direct equivalencies. This means that courses are generally transferred back to the home university as an elective (ex. BIO 200 elective, WGS 300 elective, ANT 200 elective).
Look over the course offerings for your major that each program has. Make a word document or a google document and keep a list of 6 courses from each program that interests you. Make sure to include descriptions! You can take these lists with you to your academic advisor and see if they have anything to say about which program may be most suitable to you academically. This should help narrow down that list even more.
When this is over with, compare and contrast the finer details of the program. Do you like the location one is in? What about the housing situation? Is it dorm living, apartment living or is a homestay your only option? Are there any language component that’s required (some USAC programs require students to take at least one language course)? A great resource on learning more about certain countries and programs is asking the Education Abroad Advisor and attending education abroad events. You’ll be able to talk with people who have been through the same process as you–some of which may have even gone to the some country or participated in the same program!
The final factor in choosing between your programs could be cost. Depending on location and when you plan to go, certain options will be more expensive. A great way to help compare costs between programs is this .XLSX sheet we’ve made for students.
The form allows you to compare up to three different programs to see which one will be most cost efficient for you.
Tip: If you’re doing a direct exchange through the university, your tuition cost will be whatever you currently pay per semester to the University of Maine. These three costs (in-state, out-of-state, NEBHE) are reflected in the sheet already for you to choose from.
Be sure to look over this sheet with a family member and/or someone from the financial aid office as they may be able to help you choose a program appropriate to your budget.