Studying abroad is a great opportunity for students to further their learning in exciting new places. Virginia Tech’s Global Education Office shares these key questions to ask when planning your study abroad trip.

“After COVID, we have seen so many looking for that human connection and experience. We are so happy to be able to help students along that journey,” said Katherine Burnam, global education advisor.

Last year, over 1,400 Hokies studied abroad.

Why do you want to study abroad?

Studying abroad presents opportunities to learn countless new things about the world around you. Different places can provide insight to different things, so it is important to consider exactly what you want to get out of your time abroad.

Virginia Tech has connections and opportunities around the globe. Top destinations include Switzerland, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Denmark, and the United Kingdom.

Though the idea of studying abroad seem like a novelty: wondrous sites, new languages, and world history, you should consider your academic and professional growth as well. What places and connections will help you career-wise? What world concepts can you learn that will help you in the future? These are all things to consider when deciding to study abroad.

Understand it is a process.

Making the decision to go abroad is the first step in your journey. The process can be intimidating to some students, but the Global Education Office is here to guide you through concerns, problems, and other issues that may arise. It is important to be intentional when planning and committing to studying abroad.

Located at 526 Prices Fork Road in Blacksburg, the office is open for walk-in advising hours from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday or schedule an appointment by emailing the office.

Include your academic advisor in the conversations about studying abroad. You will have class requirements to complete while abroad. You also will need to complete safety lessons and preparation workshops.

Have reasonable expectations.

The Global Education Office’s peer advisors are students who have gone through the study abroad process and are a great resource to new students considering the possibilities. After talking with them, you should have realistic expectations about what is to transpire over the next few weeks.

Deadlines are very important when it comes to applying for study abroad, registering for classes, and applying for scholarships. The majority of students choose to travel during the spring and summer semesters, so many of those programs will fill up quickly.

Consider different types of opportunities.

There are many ways to explore abroad. Virginia Tech offers different programs to provide students with different levels of immersion. The majority — 77 percent — of students choose a Virginia Tech faculty-led program, sponsored by a specific department. Students receive Virginia Tech class credit and tuition is essentially the same. These programs are held in the fall, winter, spring, and summer terms.

The Virginia Tech Exchange program is done in partnership with other universities. Students pay tuition to Virginia Tech, but study through one of the 60 partner universities. This is a high-immersion program where students often live with local and international students.

Direct enroll programs allows students to enroll in any accredited university of their choice, and tuition is paid directly to that school. This option is cost efficient for out-of-state students. The program can last a semester or an entire academic year.

Finally, there are third-party programs with hundreds of options. These are non-Virginia Tech study abroad organizations that specialize in helping university students study abroad. Even through the third-party option, you can receive academic credit, and the Global Education Office staff will still be there to help and guide you.

Evaluate your financial situation.

Financing your trip is a very personal aspect of the study abroad process. Many are deterred by the idea of the finances. However, contrary to popular belief, Virginia Tech offers many programs that cost the same as if not or less than your Virginia Tech regular tuition.

There are also many scholarship opportunities, both within the university and outside of it. Over $500,000 in scholarships are given out each year. Through Virginia Tech, students can receive anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 toward their student abroad experiences. The Global Education Office, part of Outreach and International Affairs, also provides information on outside scholarships and advises students on applying for national awards such as the Gilman, Boren, and Fulbright. Over $500,000 in scholarships are given out each year. Through Virginia Tech, students can receive anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 toward their student abroad experiences.

Written by Caroline Reed, a senior and student writer with Virginia Tech Marketing and Communications

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