The main concerns I have heard from everyone that wants to study abroad at my college are, “When can they I it into my class schedule?” or “Will I still be able to graduate in four years if I study abroad?” I know that was one of my concerns when looking into AIFS Study Abroad and figuring out where and when my cross-cultural experience would be.
I was part of the 50% of students who switched majors after freshmen year, so I was really concerned about finishing my new degree in four years. Thankfully, I will be graduating this May after four years of college with a double-major in Public Health and Healthcare Administration — all because I was able to study abroad for three weeks in January.
I’m so grateful that there are study abroad programs like AIFS Study Abroad that allow students who may be in a time crunch, or just don’t have the ability due to their packed schedules (like my nursing and pre-physical therapy friends), to experience studying abroad.
The classic options for studying abroad aren’t the only choices for college students.
There is the winter session (J-Term) option where a student can go abroad for 2-3 weeks. There is also a summer option for students that want the perfect in between timeline of winter session and semester abroad. Students can study abroad from 2 weeks to 3 months of the summer.
Why studying abroad during the winter session was perfect for me was because of two reasons that usually deter college students from studying abroad: financial and family need. The summer is where I am able to make most of my money for the school year. With going abroad over the winter session, I am missing about a paycheck and a half of income compared to a whole summer’s worth of income. The family reason has more to do with why I chose a shorter program option. I asked myself: How much time can I be away from my friends and family and not lose contact with them? The winter session timeline of three weeks that I had in Athens, Greece allowed me to be away from my family for about the same time length as I would be back home with just being eight hours ahead. The time difference of eight hours ahead was actually perfect for me as a student/tourist. I was able to get all of my exploring of Athens out of the way and get my studying done by the time my family and friends were awake and ready to communicate.
Studying abroad during January offered the most flexibility for me. I hope any college students looking into studying abroad find their perfect fit with their lifestyles.