One of the most important considerations in selecting a study abroad should be the classes that are offered by the provider. Study abroad presents an opportunity to take classes that are either not offered at the home university or to take classes that are enriched by the city or country of the program. Unfortunately, most students don’t consider what class or classes they will take abroad until after they have chosen a destination and program. Students often underestimate the importance of the classes on their study abroad experience.
Often students don’t consider the significant amount of time that they will spend in class or class-related activities during their study abroad program. These students usually fail to recognize that the classes they take overseas can enhance or detract from their overall experience abroad. Ignoring classes or selecting them as an afterthought, can turn a positive and life-changing learning experience into one that they student would rather soon forget.
Ideally, the importance of location is built into each and every class. There is so many things to see and do when visiting a new city or country. Classes that integrate city- or country-specific cultural and professional activities not only improve the learning process, but also enhance the program and the students’ experience abroad. These classes support the students’ educational objectives and include cultural components that add value to the program.
The study abroad program ideally would be in a location or locations where students can discover new perspectives and increase learning and understanding in fields of greatest interest to them. However, the location by itself is not sufficient. Students need to ensure that the classes offered and taken will further their educational objectives. Classes taken abroad should stimulate the student’s academic interest, augment their current academic program and give them a leg up in their future career pursuits. Studying overseas can make the student’s resume stand out in a crowded job market. Students taking the right classes will also have the opportunity to network with professionals in their areas of interest in other countries and with students from around the world with like interests.
Students should focus on taking classes abroad that are unique and special. Students should seek out classes that can’t be offered or delivered in the same way at their home university. These classes should include activities that can only be provided in the program location. For example, a student studying art may be able to study and take art classes at the Prado, Reina Sofía, Bode, Louvre, Musée D’Orsay, Uffizi Gallery and/or La Accademia. A student studying European politics and culture may be able to take classes and seminars at German Parliament, World Trade Organization (WTO), United Nations (UN), Office of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and/or the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). These classes provide a once in a lifetime learning experience that is enriched by the cities and countries visited.
Considering the class or classes, along with the destination and program provider, will help students make the most of their time abroad. If they take interesting and stimulating classes, they will round out their education and give themselves a leg up in their careers upon graduation. Rather than being a burden and distraction, these classes can be fun and enhance the overall study abroad experience.