How to Choose a Program

Finding a study abroad program takes time, patience, and, most importantly, an understanding of your goals and priorities. You likely won't find a program that aligns with every single one of your priorities, and that's okay! It's all about finding what fits best, not what fits perfectly. 

 

Review the prompts below before you dive into the program search process. As you reflect, take note of which program characteristics you feel stronger about versus those where you're more flexible. 

  • Your "Why"

    Before diving into the specifics of programs, think about how you hope to grow as a result of studying abroad. You'll also be asked to write about your goals in Wesleyan's study abroad application. 

    Prompts for self-reflection:

    • Why do I want to study abroad?
    • What am I hoping to learn?
    • How do I want to challenge myself?
    • What is my comfort zone? How can I push myself out of my comfort zone and into my learning/growth zone?
  • Cultural Immersion

    You will experience cultural difference no matter where you study abroad, but your program location and your own involvement will greatly influence the degree to which you engage with cultural difference. 

    Prompts for self-reflection:

    • Do I want to experience a culture very different from my own, or more similar?
    • Do I want to live in a country where the primary language is not my first?
    • Do I want a program that arranges excursions and cultural immersion activities or do I feel confident finding immersive experiences on my own?
    • Do I prefer to take courses with local students or would I prefer to take courses with other students studying abroad?
    • How much support do I need from my program? Am I comfortable navigating things largely on my own or would I prefer extra support?
  • Academics

    Wesleyan considers study abroad to be an essential part of a liberal arts education for students majoring in any subject. If you haven't yet, carefully read the How Credit Works webpage to get a solid understanding of Wesleyan's study abroad credit policies. 

    Prompts for self-reflection:

    • Have I spoken with my major or pre-major advisor about my desire to study abroad?
    • Do I know my major department's credit transfer policies for study abroad? 
    • Do I need to fulfill any major or minor requirements while I'm abroad?
    • Do I want to take classes with local students or other study abroad students?
    • What is my preferred class format: Large lectures, small seminars, independent study?
    • Do I want to conduct research? Do I want to earn credit for an internship?
  • Term / Timing

    Most Wesleyan students choose to study abroad for at least one full semester, but short-term programs during the winter and summer are also common. Generally, the longer time you spend abroad, the more immersive and impactful the experience will be.

    There are many things to consider when deciding what term to study abroad, such as: 

    • Sequence of courses required for your major 
    • Wesleyan housing selection (see below for more info) 
    • Financial aid policies for study abroad (semester vs. summer/winter study abroad)
    • Credit transfer policies for study abroad (semester vs. summer/winter study abroad)
    • Extracurricular activities such as sport schedules and campus involvement 
    • Weather, events, and festivals in your study abroad destination 


    Regardless of which semester you choose, all students who study abroad in the fall and spring will be able to register for next semester’s classes online and apply/interview for internships while they're abroad.

    Benefits of spring study abroad:

    • Participate in Wesleyan housing selection (see below for more info) 
    • Spring term academic calendars tend to be more standardized globally 
    • You can remain in your host country for the summer to intern or build on your language and intercultural learning 
    • Most schools have a substantial spring break, which allows for greater opportunities to travel 
    • Spring semester weather in many areas of the world is better than in New England or than in the fall

    Benefits of fall study abroad:

    • Option to extend your time abroad for the full academic year, if eligible. Build on fall-term language and intercultural learning  
    • Participate in a summer language program before your program begins 


    Housing Selection and Study Abroad

    Students who choose to study abroad in the fall do not participate in housing selection the spring before they leave. When students return to campus in the spring, they are assigned by Residential Life to vacant spaces, unless they choose to apply to program houses that have vacancies.  

    Students who study abroad in the spring can participate in housing selection for the following fall.

    Should you have any questions about on-campus housing and study abroad, please contact Residential Life at reslife@wesleyan.edu.

    Prompts for self-reflection:

    • For how long do I want to study abroad?
    • Which study abroad term makes the most sense for me in terms of my academic progress?
    • How important is participating in Wesleyan housing selection to me?
    • What obligations do I have on campus or at home, such as a sport, club, dependent family member, etc.? Have I spoken with those people about my desire to study abroad? 
    • How am I personally impacted by weather and different seasons?
  • Housing

    Below are some of the most common housing options on study abroad programs:

    Homestay

    A homestay is when you live with a local family in their home. The term "family" can mean many different things, including retired individuals, parents with young children, a mother and granddaughter, etc. Programs that provide a homestay option will carefully match you with a family based on your needs and preferences, so it's important to clearly state your needs during the matching process. A homestay is usually one of the most culturally immersive and impactful housing options.

    Student Dorm

    Staying in a student dorm involves living with local students or other international students in a university living space. Living in a dorm with local students is a great way to build a community, learn local customs, and practice your language skills, if applicable. Some programs house students in dorms with other study abroad students which requires more effort from the student to meet people outside of their study abroad bubble.  

    Apartment

    Some programs have their own apartment buildings for students to live in while others require the student to find their own local housing. Exchange programs are more likely to require students to arrange their own housing but usually provide many suggestions about viable neighborhoods and buildings. 

    Prompts for self-reflection:

    • Would I prefer to live with local people or other study abroad students?
    • If I choose to live in a homestay, what are my needs and preferences that the program team should know before matching me with a family?
    • Do I feel confident arranging my own housing if my program does not provide it? 
    • How far do I want to be from my classes? Keep in mind that the daily use of public transport is much more common in certain areas of the world compared to the U.S.
  • Activities and Excursions

    A lot of the learning you will do abroad will take place outside the classroom. Activities such as participating in local cultural events, joining student clubs, and going on excursions are many Wesleyan students' most impactful moments from their terms abroad. 

    Some programs include many excursions and activities for their students whereas other programs are much more hands-off. Activities can include tours of your host city or surrounding cities, social clubs, safaris, buddy programs with local students, and more. 

    Prompts for self-reflection:

    • Do I want to go on a program that organizes activities or excursions for students or am I comfortable filling my own free time?
    • Would I prefer to live in a big city, rural community, or somewhere in between?
    • Do I want my program to match me with a local student who can help me navigate campus life?
    • Would I prefer a smaller, more intimate program with fewer students and more structure? Or a large program with more autonomy?  
  • Finances

    The costs of study abroad programs vary based on program location, duration, comprehensive fees, and more. Wesleyan aims to make all study abroad programs accessible to all students regardless of their financial situation. For this reason, students on Wesleyan financial aid will receive aid for semester and year-long study abroad programs. 

    The Finances and Funding webpage gives a detailed overview of how billing and financial aid work for study abroad. Before diving into program costs, read that webpage in detail.

    If you have a 2-3 programs of interest and you want to see how the costs compare, contact the OSA to receive sample a budget sheet for each program.

    Prompts for self-reflection:

    • Do I understand Wesleyan's billing and financial aid policies, including the difference between semester programs and summer/winter programs?
    • If my total program cost is higher than Wesleyan's Cost of Attendance (CoA) on campus, can I cover the difference? Keep in mind that scholarships can go toward this gap!
    • Does my program provider offer any scholarships? Advice on finding outside scholarships can also be found on the Finances and Funding webpage.
    • If I study in a more expensive location, how will I keep track of my spending?