When a student decides to study abroad, whether it be for a semester or short-term program, they have a vision of what their program and time abroad will be like. After spending months or even years crafting what their study abroad will be, most students begin their time abroad with an idea of what they would like to get out of their unique adventure.
As study abroad professionals who work with students every year, what can you do to help facilitate a study abroad program that lives up to their expectations and hopes? In order to do so, you must arm yourself with the knowledge of the evolving needs and desires of study abroad students, and provide them with the tools to accomplish their "study abroad bucket list." Armed with this knowledge you can ensure every student heads back to their home university with the satisfaction of a life changing experience that surpassed all expectations.
So, what do students truly want most out of their study abroad program? We've narrowed down the top three most important study abroad takeaways for students along with our tips on how to make these a reality.
1. Cultural Immersion
We consistently hear from our former guests and students that the number one reason they wanted to study abroad was to experience and immerse themselves in a different culture. Whether they're interested in arts and architecture, or language and food, studying abroad sets the stage to experience it all.
- Offer free walking tours – During their first few days in city students tend to be overwhelmed with adapting to their new home, AKA culture shock. To help ease them in, offer a few walking tours to get them acclimated and comfortable in their new city and neighborhood.
- Screen films in original language – A great way to learn a foreign culture is to watch famous films from the country in their original language (with English subtitles).
- Partner with a local university – By connecting your program with a local university you provide a direct link for your students to local students who they can meet for language exchange or simply make new friendships.
A huge motivation for students to go abroad is the opportunity to travel and do so cost effectively! Europe is the ultimate hub for study abroad students who want to travel due to the close proximity of each destination and growing network of low-cost travel solutions.
- Organize optional weekend trips – As experienced tour operators, we know that group travel is always a better value for students. By taking advantage of group buying power, you can offer your students weekend trips at a cost that saves them valuable Euros and allow them to visit more incredible cities and countries.
- Provide resources for independent travel – For many students studying abroad, this is their first experience traveling alone, much less traveling internationally alone. There are many options for students to save money while traveling such as Student Universe for flights or the International Student Identity Card that offers student discounts in over 130 countries.
3. Transferable Skills
The third most important takeaway from a study abroad program is the transferable skills they take with them back to their home university and beyond to their future careers. Skills such as communication problem solving and other valuable skills are refined throughout the experiences abroad.
- Bring in professional speakers – Your program can contact local english-speaking professionals who can speak to the valuable skills they look for in potential candidates. They can give an overview of their position and provide an opportunity for students to ask questions about their real world position.
- Host a career workshop – A career/post-grad workshop is a great opportunity to offer resume and cover letter reviews where you can provide feedback to students directly. You can also hold mock interviews so that students can feel prepared for the process going forward.
- Offer internships – Interning abroad provide students the chance to add international work experience to their resume and improve upon their transferable skills. If the internship can be applied to course credit or help students earn some money while abroad, that is an added bonus.