We invite you to consider a study-abroad experience as part of YOUR Cal U education. Our students have studied in Australia, Costa Rica, England, India, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Madagascar and other locations around the world. Options exist for one- to two-week programs, several weeks in the summer, or a traditional full semester abroad. The Office of International Programming works with Cal U students to find the right program in terms of academics, budget and personal interests.
Cal U faculty regularly lead short trips abroad for one or more weeks, especially in the summer. These experiences in particular tend tobe very affordable and are great for students who have never traveled abroad previously.
Cal U students can earn credit toward general education or major requirements. Students also may wish to consider an overseas internship as a way to make themselves more marketable to prospective employers.
Reasons to Study Abroad
There are many benefits to studying abroad. Among the opportunities are:
- Expand cross-cultural communication and problem-solving skills.
- Prepare to work in an increasingly diverse and international workplace.
- Broaden your academic horizons.
- Globalize your world view.
- Improve your foreign language skills.
Skills developed from a study abroad experience have the potential to change your life and career options in many ways. In today's increasingly interdependent world, a significant cross-cultural experience is a characteristic that employers and graduate schools seek. There is much to be gained from understanding the history and traditions of cultures outside your own. Studying abroad is one very exciting way to begin to discover new approaches and build your professional skills.
Steps and Misconceptions
- Get information. Meet with the international programming director to learn about your options and determine which program is suitable for you. Speak with students who have studied abroad. Begin your plans approximately one year before you intend study abroad. Semester, summer or year-long options are available.
- Organize and prioritize. Consider which academic requirements you plan to fulfill (major, minor, core and/or elective);Think about which semester is most suitable for your major; Consider locations, costs, and possibly an internship abroad. Prioritize your long-term academic and professional goals, as well as your degree requirements.
- Apply. Program application requirements vary, but usually include: an application form, official academic transcript, essay, and faculty recommendation. Typically, as long as students meet the minimum requirements, they are admitted.
- Be proactive. Don't delay in submitting your paperwork and miss out on an opportunity of a lifetime. If you plan to use federal financial aid, it is your responsibility to understand how it works for study abroad. Be prepared to pay costs up front, often before loans are disbursed. Students are responsible for paying the program costs directly to their program.
- Review courses you plan to take abroad with your faculty advisor to complete the Complete the Student/Advisor Agreement form.
- Order your passport; apply for a visa, if necessary. Book your flight and learn about packing, arrival on-site, health and safety, communication, money matters, and cultural adjustment. Learn as much as you about the country you will be visiting, history and culture; learn a few words and phrases in the local language.
- Ask lots of questions. It is better to be well informed and prepared for your study abroad experience. Do not hesitate to contact the international programming office at anytime - we're here to help you!
- Do not miss deadlines. There are application, deposit, payment and program specific deadlines to which you must adhere. Submit necessary paperwork early so you have more time to learn about where you will be studying.
Below we offer responses to some of the common reasons students give for not going abroad. You may find that it is easier to study abroad that you may have realized. Let us know how we can help you with your plans.
- I cannot afford it! Talk to the study abroad director and financial aid advisor. You may be surprised to learn that study abroad costs are similar or less than Cal U. Students can apply their federal and state financial aid towards the costs and many programs offer scholarships. There is a program for any size budget.
- I play a sport and/or am involved in campus leadership activities. You should talk with your coach/student life office about the option of being away for a semester, as well as continuing the sport/leadership activity overseas. You may be able to get involved by joining a team or club that involves your athletic or particular interests. If not, you may consider studying abroad during a time when it will interfere less with your activity, such as in the summer.
- I need a class for my major. Meet with the international programming director, as well as your faculty adviser to discuss an academic plan for a semester abroad and for your remaining semesters. The study abroad director can help you identify classes for your major while abroad. You might find that planning out your courses in advance will assist you with completing your major while studying abroad. Planning is the key to making sure you can fit everything in during your college years.
- I do not know anyone else going abroad. Most students who study abroad do not know anyone else on their program. You will meet people and make new friends as soon as you arrive at your study abroad university. It is a great way to break out of your comfort zone and meet students from different parts of the world.
- I do not think it will benefit me. Employers and graduate schools look for candidates who have studied abroad. It demonstrates that the person took initiative and did something unique. Also, students develop skills abroad that they cannot learn on campus. Generally, employers and graduate schools are impressed that you studied abroad because they know that the skills you gained go beyond your on campus experiences.
- I do not speak another language. Many programs offer classes in English. Also, some study abroad programs offer the option to study the language for the first time in the host country and/or to take courses in English. You have a variety of choices, so take the time to meet with the study abroad office to find what experience best fits your interests and goals.
- I don't want to leave my girlfriend/boyfriend/family! Have everyone visit during a program break or after the program ends. You will want to share what you love about your host city/country with this special person(s), and travel is a great way to build on your relationship. If a visit is not possible, focus on the big picture you will be away temporarily and it is very easy to stay in touch while abroad.
- I've never done anything like this before. Many students have never spent time abroad. The study abroad office can put you in contact with study abroad alumni so you can speak with a student who has been abroad. It is a great way to learn about a particular program and/or country from another student.
What are you waiting for? Lifelong benefits outweigh short-term doubts. Studying abroad may seem daunting; you may be anxious about being away from family or worried about fulfilling graduation requirements.
Almost everyone who has studied abroad agrees that studying abroad is the best thing they ever did. You have access to the world - take advantage of it!