Last time we heard from Courtney, she had just interviewed a student who had lived in her prospective host country. Since then, she has applied to a Reciprocal Exchange program. But in the process, she discovered something that we in the Office strongly recommend: be flexible about your potential prospective country, and you’ll be surprised at how many other places are available. Read on for Courtney’s thoughts on choosing her destination.
“How do I decide which country I want to study abroad in?” I have asked myself this question a thousand times, just as you might be asking yourself right now.
This was a hard decision to make, but in the end I knew that there could be no wrong choice. I am going to a foreign country; it’s like a semester long vacation!
When I took the study abroad course, we did a lot of research about the country we would like to study in. I chose Switzerland on a whim. The more I learned about the safety, food and transportation of this country, the more excited I became. Switzerland seemed like the perfect choice for me. Ever since I was forced to watch the movie Taken, I have been afraid of being abducted. But everything I was reading and learning about Switzerland made me feel very safe. I also wanted to study in a country with an accessible rail system. I found out that everyone in Switzerland uses public transportation, I was won over. I would go to Switzerland! And then I changed my mind.
The more I thought about my life in a foreign country, the more I realized that I would not be on a vacation. There would be no tour guide to show me around and serve as my personal translator. I realized just how large a role language plays into everyday life, and I do not speak any German. As the deadline to apply for reciprocal exchange approached, I realized I didn’t want to go to Switzerland. I needed to go to a country where I spoke the language. Going to an English speaking country seemed too easy and slightly boring. But, I had just finished my second semester of Spanish, so, I changed my mind and decided Spain would be the best choice for me.
My only advice on deciding where to go is to be flexible. Don’t attach your study abroad experience to just one country, or place. No matter where you go, you will have an amazing experience, so keep an open mind and enjoy the adventure!