How to Organize a Study Abroad Timeline

Planning a Study Abroad Trip

Going abroad to study can be a challenging experience. You have important questions:

  • When should I go?

  • When do I send applications?

  • What about scholarships?

  • When do I make travel plans?

  • Your head may be full of ideas and potential travel dates. It can all be very confusing. Where do you start?

    Here is a simple timeline to help you prepare for your study abroad experience.

    When to go?

    first, you have to decide when you want to study abroad. Are you interested in general education classes? Then, you should think about studying abroad in the first part of your academic career, after the first year, or the second.

    Are you interested in doing an internship, volunteering, or teaching? Then, it might be better to go later when you have more experience and skills to offer.

    The best time for studying abroad will depend on your own classes and degree course, and your commitments each semester. It’s a good idea to consult your academic advisor, who can give you some advice about when a good time would be.

    Brainstorming ideas and visiting study abroad events: (10 months out)

    Start planning early. Do some online research. Talk to other students, your student advisor, and others who have already done a study abroad trip. Plan to visit several study abroad events/expos to get ideas.

    Check to see if your college/university has any programs on satellite campuses. Also, check to see if they have any international agreements with other colleges/universities. The transfer of academic credits will be easier in this case.
    Start planning

    After attending a few study abroad events, and searching online for opportunities, and talking with your academic advisor, you need to start filtering your choice of possible study abroad programs. Work out exactly where you want to go. Look at travel requirements. And ensure the study abroad program you choose is a good fit with your college/university degree program.

    Applying for the study abroad program (8 months out)

    Your first real step to studying abroad is completing the application for the program. Most study abroad programs have an application deadline around four months prior to when the program starts.

    It’s best to submit your application early, to avoid any problems. If you want to do an internship or volunteer, the program will need to make the necessary arrangements, so applying early (the semester before) is advisable.

    If you don’t have a passport – now is the time to get it! (8 months out)

    It usually doesn’t take long to get a passport, but it’s best to start early, especially if you need to also obtain a student visa for your study abroad program.

    If you have a passport, check to make sure it will be valid for the period of your study abroad, plus six months as this is often a requirement.

    If you need to apply for a student visa, find out all the requirements as early as possible. The time to process a visa varies from country to country. The type, length, and purpose of the visa also affect how long it might take (student, intern, volunteer, etc.).

    Applying for scholarships (4 months out)

    When you have submitted your application for the program, organized your passport, and applied for any visa required, you need to think about how to finance your study abroad trip.

    Try applying for various scholarships you might have been interested in as you did your initial research and planning. Scholarship application deadlines vary a lot, so plan to apply in the semester before you plan to go.

    Of course, you can also apply earlier if you want to get the financial aspects organized first.

    Pay for travel tickets (3 months out)

    Apart from housing and tuition, paying for flights is probably the biggest one-off expense. Again, booking early can save you a lot of money!

    Start researching suitable flights as early as possible. Look at plenty of options online and compare dates, prices, etc. to find a good deal.

    start packing (1 week before)

    You’re almost ready! Looking forward to your study abroad experience. All you have to do now is – pack!

    Use the last few weeks before leaving to buy all the items you think you’ll need while traveling. Avoid taking too much luggage. Think practical; electrical travel adapters, any personal items, meds, etc.

    When you plan something as big as a study abroad trip, it can seem overwhelming sometimes. Don’t panic! Just take it one small step at a time. It’s worth it all I the end. All the hassle is worth it. And don’t forget to have fun while doing it! It’s the experience of a lifetime!