A Student Guide to Study Abroad

Sat 06 Aug 2022

A Student Guide to Study Abroad

Today, we live in increasingly global times where interconnectedness and cross-cultural competence is key. To forge a successful career, or land prestigious internship programs in any given field is no longer restricted to location, rather it is more about finding candidates with a global mindset who can competently work across cultures.
Research shows that to succeed in this fast-paced global economy and to take advantage of competitive career opportunities, studying and living abroad are essential experiences to students' personal growth.

Work on Your Global Appeal

In a global workplace, where jobs are becoming progressively more international, you will need to possess more than technical skills and industry knowhow to stand out from the crowd. Businesses and employers are increasingly interested in an applicant's cultural sensitivity, depth of global studies, their ability to interpret situations and their empathy towards others. These are important interpersonal skills that will set you apart professionally, and studying overseas is a significant factor in this preparation.

In this blog we have outlined 10 key elements of what a student needs to know before deciding on their summer school destination.

1. Why Would You Like to Study Abroad?

One of the very first questions you need to ask yourself is what attracts you to studying abroad?

Is it something that you are already familiar with through family and friends? Would you like to brush up on specific subject areas or learn a new skill ready for the start of semester in the next academic year? Or would you like to step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself before going into further education, perhaps embarking on international internships or deciding on a career path?

Either way, if you are fortunate enough to be able to join a summer study program abroad, it will put you in a very strong position in both your personal growth and future career choices.

2. How to Choose a Study Abroad Program?

With so many study abroad programs available worldwide, choosing a summer school destination can be a daunting process. Research and talking it through with your family, friends and teachers is key.
If it's a language you would like to learn, naturally, your choices will be limited to specific countries. However, if it is university and cultural experience you are after, or you would like to explore the idea of an international internship program, then making a pros and cons list is a simple but powerful tool to help you narrow down your options.

3. What Do You Want to Achieve?

Before you opt for a summer program, you need to make sure that you have a specific aim in mind.

Summer schools are short, intense periods of study time, and therefore, you need to make the most of this incredible opportunity by doing a bit of preparation work. The aim of these programs is to deliver a short summer school with a blend of academic education and enrichment activities.

You don't need to have it all figured out but having a focus will definitely help you get the most out of your summer school experience abroad.

4. Do Your Research!

If you are serious about applying for a summer school abroad, make sure that you do your research in advance. Opt for a place that has a good reputation, and always read existing student reviews and testimonials. You should also find out if the qualification you'll receive is widely recognised and endorsed in your home university and county.

5. Practical Things You Need to Study Abroad

Once you have chosen your preferred summer school, you need to prepare for living and studying abroad.

Make sure that you familiarise yourself with the country's currency, climate and customs before you travel. Are there any visa requirements and additional paperwork that you will need to acquire prior to your trip?

Make contact with your summer school in advance and use their expertise to help you prepare for your overseas trip. Don't be afraid to ask for help and support.

Remember that summer schools abroad are short periods of time, therefore you won't need to overpack and take unnecessary things with you.

6. Immerse Yourself in a New Culture

One of the most exciting aspects of studying abroad is the opportunity to experience new cultures and visit new places. Whilst leaving home behind for a short period of time can seem like a scary prospect, immersing yourself in a new culture is an immense privilege, one that can not be learnt in a classroom alone.

During your stay in a new country, you will make friends from around the world and gain a global perspective on other worldviews, cultures and customs.

Studying overseas will allow you to develop highly sought after skills such as intercultural communication, empathy, adaptability, tolerance and problem solving.

7. Build an International Network

One of the greatest aspects of studying abroad is the international communities students build. During your short time on the course, you will be joined by students from different cultures, backgrounds and languages. You will learn to communicate and problem solve together and experience a new culture through different eyes.
Embrace the opportunity to get to know your peers as some of these connections will last a lifetime and become part of your ever growing international network.

8. Make the Most of Your Time

Even though you may experience times of highs and lows and bouts of homesickness from time to time during your stay in a new country, remember that this is natural. Reach out to your tutors and engage with your peers around you who will be feeling the same way.

Your time is limited on a short summer course and there are very few experiences that are as transformative as studying abroad. Therefore, don't be shy to ask questions and actively interact with your tutors who are experts in their field of study.

During your summer school, you will develop an appreciation of people from other countries, heighten your cultural sensitivity and open your mind to the world around you.

Summer school programs have a high level of student-tutor interaction. Since class sizes are smaller, tutors can dedicate more time to every student. Practical activities will test your social and group-work skills, and encourage you to share your thoughts and insights with fellow students around you.

9. Work on Your Personal Growth

There is no doubt that studying abroad expands your personal horizons and opens up a world of personal and professional opportunities. Being a global thinker means that your worldview is not limited to a specific country and culture, but you are able to embrace differing world views and work together with others for the betterment of humanity.

Studying abroad will equip you with invaluable life skills such as cross-cultural aptitude, the ability to see things from other people's point of view and to problem solve while operating in a different culture and environment.

On top of increased intellectual development, living and studying abroad comes with many unique benefits. Being out of your comfort zone is a transformative experience that fosters personal growth, increases self-confidence and improves cross cultural competency, all of which aid your future education and career opportunities.

10. Don't Forget to Have Fun!

Although all study abroad programs incorporate intense periods of classroom study time and group workshops, your summer school experience is also about making new friends with students from around the world and immersing yourself in the culture around you.
All summer schools provide the opportunity to experience local culture, explore famous landmarks, visit popular tourist attractions and attend local events.

Connect with Us in Cambridge

At St Mary’s School, Cambridge, we are delighted to offer international students the chance to experience British culture at its best in one of the world's most beautiful historic cities.

Our popular illuminate Cambridge summer study abroad program is specifically designed for girls aged 13-17 to immerse them in British culture, to introduce them to unique traditions, to push their limits and expand their academic and social potential.

During their two-week stay in Cambridge, students will explore a series of intriguing academic themes devised by our outstanding Oxbridge-educated course leaders. Learning will consist of lively seminars, one-to-one tutorials and interactive workshops.

Beyond the classroom, exciting educational and cultural visits to some of the UK's most prestigious sites and landmarks, and stimulating days out will bring our students' learning to life.

Step out of your comfort zone and join us this summer!


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