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A Guide to Studying Abroad for the College Freshman

Finding the right college is a huge decision in any high school student's life. As just choosing from schools in the U.S. can be overwhelming enough at times, oftentimes students don't even consider a study abroad program. However, for the young adult who isn't 100% sure of the direction they'd like to take, deciding to study abroad can open new doors and provide invaluable life experiences. 

There are so many study abroad programs for new college students that choice is never an issue. Some tailor to those on a budget while some specialize in certain continents and still others allow you to visit many countries all in one trip. A quick internet search is all you need to get on your way to choosing your study abroad program. However, it's important to know what you're looking for or at least what countries you'd be interested in visiting. Otherwise be prepared to be bombarded with more offers than you could ever look through. 

A good study abroad program allows you to have experiences you'd never get in your home country. Being completely immersed in another culture is something that cannot be equaled in any U.S. classroom. You'll interact with kids your own age who have grown up in your host country, you'll form friendships and meet people you who can teach you valuable things. And in a non-English speaking country, you'll have the opportunity to learn a new language from native speakers in the native country which is something most foreign language speakers only ever dream of. 

A study abroad program is safer and more supportive than, say, a gap year trip through Europe. You'll have contacts in your host country who you can turn to if you run into any problems and there will always be support and help for you when you study abroad . Even the teachers at your university are great resources if you have trouble. 

There are of course some downsides as well when you decide to study abroad . Firstly there is the high cost. No matter how inexpensive your program, the fact is that you'll still be paying at least double what you'd pay for the same level of education in the U.S. And chances are you won't be using your scholarship as most have the stipulation that they must be used in state or at least in country. Additionally, you'll have to be aware that at some point you will experience some homesickness. Even if you're all ready to ship off and you're not the least bit nervous, everyone who decides to study abroad will get homesick at some point; you're traveling to a foreign country without friends or family. It's inevitable. 

Finding the right program for you, a program that will allow you to study abroad in your choice country on your budget for your preferred length of time, can be a difficult task. The important thing is to take your time and weigh all your options. In the end you'll be happy you took your time and had an amazing experience that you'll never forget.

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