Looking to get as far away as possible from the stresses of your home campus? It's hard to find a better place to study abroad (really far abroad) than the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), a nation made up of a cluster of thousands of small islands in the Western Pacific.
There isn't a wide range of study abroad options in this sparsely populated archipelago, but it's an ideal place to be if you're interested in learning more about oceanography, marine biology and ecosystems, and coral reefs. The FSM is also one of the Pacific nations already facing the real effects of climate change, so it's on the front lines for environmental and climate studies.
Just be warned, once you make the trek out to study on one of these beautiful islands, you might have trouble motivating yourself to leave ever again!
Photo credit: rapidtravelchai
Taking advantage of the region's amazing geography, most study abroad programs in Micronesia are centered on Oceonography, Marine Biology and other Natural Sciences. Students enrolled in these types of programs have the opportunity to focus on subjects like the effects of climate change and human behavior on ecosystems, coral reef and mangrove forest ecology, ocean currents, sea levels, and ocean floor tectonics and geology.
There are also a few international study programs, most run by U.S.-based universities, in public health, epidemiology, and even international law.
Most of the programs open to international students are summer or academic travel programs, since the islands are small and don't have a wide range of university or even housing options. There is an option of enrolling directly in the region's main university, the College of Micronesia - FSM, but course options are fairly limited, so make sure there are enough courses offered for transferable credit before getting too far into the enrollment process.
Planning Your Trip
If you're studying in Micronesia, you'll likely be living on one of the four large island states: Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae. The College of Micronesia - FSM has campuses on these four large islands, as well as a national campus in the FSM capital city, Palikir, on Pohnpei. If your program involves more rural fieldwork than class time, you might have the opportunity to travel out to some of the more far-flung islands and remote locations.
Most study abroad program providers offer arranged lodging at local hotels, hostels or even homestays. The College of Micronesia - FSM has two residence halls for full-time students at its national campus and gives priority to students from off-island. There are also apartments and rooms for rent in nearby areas, though it might be hard to find and confirm housing options until you're actually there.
Because Micronesia isn't a very common study abroad destination, there aren't many scholarships available specifically for study there. Still, it's worth asking your study abroad office if they know of any general funding available to students going overseas, or for your particular area of study, especially if you'll be taking more hard science classes.
Visas and Other Costs
Keep in mind that each island has its own immigration office and regulations, so you'll have to go through customs and fill out paperwork every time you travel to another island. Each island also has an exit tax of $15-20, so budget for that if you plan on traveling between islands.
If you're studying for more than 30 days and enrolling in a university there, you'll need to apply for a student permit prior to arriving in the FSM. Otherwise, you'll need a visitor entry permit (up to 1 year for US passport holders, 90 days for citizens of other countries).
Health & Safety
One serious consideration of studying in the FSM is the distance -- if you do have a medical emergency or need to leave the islands, it's a long haul to get back home, no matter where that is. This is just extra reason for making sure you have student or travel insurance before you head out to the middle of the Pacific.
Like traveling anywhere else, it's important to make sure all your vaccines are up to date. If you consistently take medication, you may want to make sure you have enough for your time abroad or check with your doctor and insurance provider to make sure you'll have access to equivalent medication out on the islands. Mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika are present in FSM, so pack plenty of insect repellant for your time there.