For some students, the most difficult part of mapping out a study abroad experience is narrowing down the list of potential destinations to just a single place. One region may have better opportunities for a particular major while another might inspire more personal growth. That’s why more and more students are opting for multi-country programs.
An ambitious endeavor, studying overseas in two or three nations will challenge participants to quickly adjust to new cultures all while keeping up with their classes. With new foods, unfamiliar streets, and different histories, students will gain a well-rounded perspective on how several countries operate, both internally and across borders.
If studying abroad is about seeing the world and learning from other cultures, then multi-country programs are the ultimate overseas experience.
Pros of Multi-Country Study Abroad
- Check more off your bucket list. Why settle for a single country when there’s so many destinations out there? Instead of making one nation your home and taking mini trips to others, settle down in two or three locations. You can even keep doing those side excursions with the added bonus of having access to different regions.
- You’ll enjoy a diverse curriculum. Multi-country study abroad programs yield a unique opportunity to learn from a variety of cultures, both in the classroom and on the streets. You’ll observe how several ways of life differs from your own and from each other.
- Acquire adaptability as a new skill. While living more nomadically than traditional study abroad programs, you’ll learn how to settle into new situations more easily. This kind of flexibility will be invaluable for the rest of your life, both professionally and personally.
Cons of Multi-Country Study Abroad
- There’s limited time to connect with your host countries. Instead of immersing yourself in one culture, you’ve got a few more to adjust to in a short span of time. So long as you make the most of each experience, you shouldn’t leave one country feeling like you missed out by not opting for a longer, single location program.
- You’ll have to do the housekeeping stuff again. For students of programs in multiple regions, you’ll have to look into pesky things like visas, mobile SIM cards, and safety considerations more than once. But when there’s an incredible opportunity on the horizon, try not to sweat the small stuff.
- Homesickness is going to get weird. As you uproot your newfound home to venture to yet another strange place, you might find yourself in a perpetual state of homesickness -- that is, for previous destinations. This isn’t the worst side effect to experience from studying overseas in numerous countries, as it’s a sign that your adventures were well-lived.
Like any study abroad program, multi-country experiences have a few factors you’ll need to consider before departure. Take some time to come up with a budget, make sure you understand any visa requirements, and pack the right stuff.
It should come as no surprise that studying overseas in more than one place will likely be pricier than single country programs. More traveling means more transport expenses and the possibility of additional program fees. You’ll also need to navigate the average living costs and currency conversions for each region.
When you study abroad with certain organizations, the tuition fees will only cover essentials like housing and insurance. As such, you’ll just need extra finances set aside for meals, souvenirs, and fun. Before you leave, it will be helpful to explore the typical cost of groceries in each of your destinations and how strong your country’s dollar will hold up against the local currency.
Whether or not you need a visa will depend on where you’re from, where you’re going, and how long you’ll be staying in each country. For instance, U.S. citizens can stay up to 90 days in EU nations. That means if you’re doing a multi-country program in Europe lasting fewer than 3 months, you should be able to move from one destination to another without a visa.
However, if you’ll be studying long-term in two or three different countries, or if you’ll be traveling between nations that don’t share policies on foreign visitors, your visa situation might vary. Fortunately, the organization you enroll with will likely be familiar with a student visa or permit requirements for their multi-country programs.
For study abroad students traversing several nations, packing can be tricky business. You’ll need attire that’s appropriate for each culture, which can vary dramatically between regions. Additionally, with all of the traveling you’ll be doing, it will ease the moving pains if you take a smaller suitcase and pack light.
Keep in mind, packing light is less about underpacking and more about not being afraid to let go of old possessions. As you depart one destination for another, you can opt to donate old clothing to local shops. Black clothes might be a Parisian staple, but you’ll look drab if your next stop is somewhere like vibrant Greece.
Once you make room in your suitcase, you can fill it right back up again. Purchasing attire in your host countries is one sure way to blend in with the local community, and your new wardrobe additions will double as souvenirs. It will be delightful to see how the contents of your bag transform from start to finish.
Considerations for your well-being are critical for any study overseas experience, and none more so than multi-country programs. Even for nations from the same continent, health and safety factors can change drastically from country to country.
Living in two or three different places, you’ll need to be prepared to navigate each country’s individual healthcare systems and vaccination requirements. Luckily, some organizations will include health insurance for their participants. Otherwise, enrolling in travel medical insurance that allows you to customize coverage for multiple nations will be the easiest option.
Some destinations might also require visitors have certain vaccines, or you may have to carry special medication like malaria pills with you. This is one of those things that absolutely must be organized prior to departure -- it’s much easier to get the right shots and pills through your doctor at home.
From national and personal security to the threat of natural disasters, each region of the world has its own safety considerations. While Spain is notorious for pickpockets, places like Japan might have you scanning earthquake procedure signs.
The best armor against theft, personal injury, or other factors regarding travel safety is to know what to expect. The potential risks to foreign students are as varied as the numerous cultures you’ll encounter, but with the right preparation you’ll have a well-rounded multi-country experience.