So you’ve decided to study abroad! What comes next is a lot of excitement, preparation and possibly some confusion. We are here to hopefully make that confusion a little bit less confusing. Deciding on where to go, how long to go for, how much and where you want to travel and whether you want to live in an apartment, dorm or homestay can be difficult at times; but hopefully with some guidance you can make the best decisions for your experience and make a seamless transition into your summer, semester or year and beyond abroad!

This guide is specifically focused on the length of your stay. If you are considering spending a spring semester overseas (which is quite a popular choice) this is a guide you will want to pay close attention to.

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Photo credits: Sam Ng -LP.

There is no "one-size-fits-all" study abroad experience. Identify what you want to accomplish throughout your semester abroad, and then find a program that will help you reach those goals! Here are some popular types that students choose between:

University Programs

If your university offers study abroad programs, you might opt to participate in one. You'll be with your friends and automatically have your credits transferred. The downside is it might be too hard to live outside of your comfort zone (super important during study abroad!), and there will be fewer opportunities to branch out.

Third Party Provider Programs

Many companies' sole purpose is to help students study abroad. Organizations like API, ISA and Panrimo offer a variety of programs that cater to almost every type of student. If you're not looking for a cookie-cutter program at your university, you may opt to find a more specific program like the types these guys offer. Just be sure to double check that your credits will transfer!

Direct Enrollment

If you want to forego having your hand held throughout your entire study abroad process, then you might want to contact a foreign institution directly and organize your enrollment. This will usually save you big time money and will be a real test of your capabilities. The hard is what makes it great, though, and you will certainly come with home with a lot of unique stories!

Language Immersion Programs

When's a better time to perfect your French skills than when studying abroad in France? If your goal is to increase your proficiency in a language, you might try to find a program in a smaller (less touristy) city or a specific school that commits to language learning. Whatever your (lingual) flavor, there's a program out there for you!

Be it for their holidays, celebrations, or awesome weather, these destinations just do it better.

Spain

With much going on in Spain during the spring months, it is the perfect place to visit if you have found yourself in Europe for your study abroad experience. Here is a list of events and festivals that go on in the sunny, Western European country during the spring months:

  • February 25-March 5: Carnival in Sitges
  • March 15-19: Las Fallas in Valencia
  • May 29-31: Primavera Music Festival in Barcelona
  • May 5-10: La Feria de Abril in Sevilla
Ireland

Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day but why spend the holiday in any old pub when you can spend in Dublin where they host the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations? With parades, music, Irish dancing and plenty of beer during March 14-18 you’ll be sure to have an authentic Irish experience! Studying abroad in Ireland never sounded better.

The Czech Republic

One of the most important holidays of the Christian calendar is Easter. Prague has some of the most beautiful Easter markets in Europe which will be held from April 5-27 at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. The main tradition of these Easter markets is the intricately painted Easter eggs, each one with a unique design. Create your own when studying in the Czech Republic next spring.

Mexico

So you decided to study abroad outside of Europe you say? Well if you chose Central or South America there are plenty of opportunities to attend different festivals and events, including Feria de San Marcos in Aguascalientes, Mexico which takes place from mid-April to early-May.

This festival is wildly popular and full of mariachi bands, traditional folk dancing, colorful parades, art exhibits and even bullfights and cockfights for the more daring traveler. Sounds like the perfect breather from hitting the books while studying in Mexico.

Thailand

New Year’s celebrations in Asian countries are some of the biggest parties in the world. From April 13-15 the Songkran, Thai New Year, festivities occur alongside thousands of people, where party-goers take over the streets of Bangkok and soak each other with buckets of water, catapulting water balloons and drenching with water guns (the ultimate water fight!). The water is a representation of good luck in the New Year and a helluva good time for study abroad students in Thailand (especially when paired with a mango fruit shake after!).

Contributed by Carrie Roche

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