What to do when you can’t study abroad

It’s an undeniable truth that college is a busy time of life. Balancing academics, work and other commitments is enough to make even the most proactive planners balk at the thought of fitting a semester or more abroad. Fortunately, there are many other options available for those who wish to have the experience of spending time in another country while in college, but might not have the time or budget to do so.

The first, most easily accessible option is studying abroad during the summer. Most universities offer programs that fully or partially span the duration of summer break. This is a good way to get ahead with credits while still being able to live and travel in another part of the world.

However, upperclassmen students often feel the pressure to get an internship or job during the summer to bolster their resumé and prepare them for their upcoming careers. Fortunately, many schools have connections to a number of international internships, allowing students to combine their desire for travel with their pursuit of professional goals. The International Internship Program office at UW-Madison is a great resource for learning more about opportunities for interning globally.

If a summer abroad is not in the cards, there are still other opportunities out there. Shorter programs over winter break and alternative spring break trips are another option to fulfill globetrotting dreams. Though they may not be as long as other study abroad programs, they’re a compromise for students who may otherwise not have the expendable resources for travel during their college career.

Although college may feel like a timed obstacle course of commitments and obligations, this doesn’t have to diminish your ability to see the world. As study abroad programs increase in popularity across the world, it really is the perfect time to be a travel-crazy student. Diversification in location and duration of study abroad opportunities, in combination with opportunities for financial aid and scholarships, allow students to have easier access to international experiences.

Being passionate about travel isn’t something that you should have to sacrifice during your college career. Instead of becoming discouraged by what you aren’t able to do, contact your university and start investigating alternatives!

Photo by Varinda Gupta

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