Become an International Student

Have you always had a passion for another country or culture? Find out what you need to know about becoming an international student.

There are many excellent schools in the United States, but there are also many excellent educational opportunities available in other countries. As a U.S. resident, you may want to take advantage of some of those opportunities by becoming an international student. If so, you are in good company. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, NAFSA: Association of International Educators reported 162,633 U.S. residents chose to become international students during the 2019-2020 school year.

Becoming an international student is a multi-faceted experience. It requires planning and preparation, especially since most study programs last for at least one year. You need a good understanding of what you can expect. It is also important to select a reputable study program. That way you can get the most out of your international study experience. The information below can help you determine if you want to become an international student. You can also use the information provided to find out how best to turn that desire into a reality.

What is an International Student and What Do International Students Do?

An international student is also known as a foreign or foreign exchange student. A foreign student is one studying outside his or her home country at the high school or college level. For example, a U.S. student may opt to study for a year in France as an international student. Each year, students around the globe choose to travel to other countries to study for various reasons.

Studying abroad is an immersive process. An international student typically lives with a host family. That family is usually chosen through the learning institution the student attends. An international student spends a lengthy period learning about the culture, language, and customs of residents in his or her chosen country. He or she experiences that culture firsthand at home, at school, and socially. 

What Are Common Reasons to Study Abroad?

There is no right or wrong reason to study abroad. Each international student has his or her own reasons for doing so. However, some reasons are more common than others. One top reason is to study a location-based subject. For example, a student wishing to study marine biology may opt to study in a country with diverse underwater study courses, such as Costa Rica.

Studying abroad due to the love of or familial tie to a particular country is another common reason. That love may stem from ancestral roots or media exposure. Alternatively, a student may feel an inexplicable emotional connection to a certain location. Additionally, a student may already have relatives in the country. Studying there may provide him or her the opportunity to spend more time with those loved ones. 

Another top reason to study abroad is to improve personal skill sets. Often, doing so can also help you later when you are working your way along your chosen career path. For example, studying abroad teaches a healthy respect for and love of other cultures. Social skill development, learning a second language, and improved abstract thinking are also good reasons to study abroad.

What Are Some Other Benefits of Studying Abroad?

You may have your own specific reasons for wanting to study abroad. However, you are likely to discover many additional side benefits of doing so along the way. Those benefits may seem small, but they can help you throughout your future life. They include:

  • Increased Sense of Independence

  • Improved Problem-Solving Skills

  • A Larger and More Diverse Social Network

  • New Life Experiences (Foods, Cultural Experiences Etc.)

  • A Better Sense of and Respect for Cultural Differences

What Are Some Top Programs for International Studies?

If you want to study abroad, the first step is to identify your country of interest. Next, you need to find an international studies program that allows you to study in that country. Choosing a respected international studies program with a reputation for excellence is vital. Many lesser programs exist that may not give you the safety level or diverse opportunities you desire during your trip. Here are some top U.S. programs for students interested in international studies:

  • Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont was founded in 1800. It has been a top private U.S. college ever since. Today, it has one of the most extensive study abroad programs in the United States. Students can choose to study at one of the partner universities in 40 other countries, such as China, France, and Germany. 

  • New York University in New York City, New York offers study abroad programs at undergraduate and graduate levels. Students can choose to travel to countries like England, Argentina, and Italy. Students may select from international courses taught in English or local languages, based on their existing language skill levels.

  • Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania offers popular study abroad courses in New Zealand and Australia. Courses are also available in multiple other countries. The Arcadia website offers a convenient tool potential students can use to search for study abroad opportunities by country and other criteria, such as city size.

  • Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. offers several different types of study abroad programs. They include fully immersive direct matriculation courses, area studies, and summer study programs. Limited foreign business courses are also available.

  • Pepperdine University in Malibu, California has offered study abroad programs since 1963. Available countries for students to study in include Switzerland, Germany, and Italy.

How Much Does it Cost to Study Abroad?

The costs to study abroad are different based on the university you attend and the economic status of the country to which you are traveling, among other factors. For example, direct enrollment on your own can lower your costs. However, universities and third-party providers can handle various aspects of the process for you, such as finding your housing. In either case, you can expect to pay at least $2,000 for enrollment, in most cases. Sometimes that cost can exceed $10,000. You must also factor in other associated expenses, such as the cost of travel, food, clothing, and other necessities you may purchase during your stay. Consider each of those expenses carefully before enrolling in a study abroad program.