Do you enjoy learning about ancient Rome and Greece? Do you love art history? Perhaps you have always wanted to learn a second language? Whether you are a professor teaching these things or a student learning about them, why sit in a classroom when you don’t have to? Stop reading about and looking at pictures of the Sistine Chapel, the Acropolis, or the great works of art housed in the Louvre and see them for yourself.

This is all possible if you take, or lead (for all the professors), a tour abroad. The best part is you don’t have to worry about any of the hard parts yourself. There are many companies that will partner with teachers and faculty members and provide their resources, give support from beginning to end, let you choose between expertly preplanned tours, or help you build your own.

If you don’t have an entire semester or year to dedicate to study abroad and you just want to travel, then a study abroad tour is perfect, go for a week, two weeks, or a month. It is totally up to you! There are many companies out there that allow you to sign up for trips with many other students from around the country.

Photo credit: Seth Doyle.

Any tour can be customized to meet different interests. A few options include:

Service Tours

Go overseas and do community service projects through a service tour. Interact with locals and get to know local culture, while at the same time helping out your host country. Ecuador, Peru, Nicaragua, China, India, and Tanzania are all great places to consider for service tours.

Language and Cultural Immersion Tours

Use your tour abroad to take foreign language classes, cooking classes, dance, and art classes. You can actively participate and learn about the local culture and be more than just a tourist.

Adventure Tours

For all you high-energy daredevils out there, take an adventure tour abroad. While you travel, you can participate in water sports, go caving, horseback riding, or even go on a safari!

Whether you dream about visiting Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, getting lost in the Louvre, seeing the Great Wall of China, or exploring Machu Picchu, there are tours for all tastes and subjects.

They include, but are not limited, to the following:

Europe

Europe offers many beautiful and historic cities to explore. See first-hand where Anne Frank and her family hid in Amsterdam during WWII, go to France and take a tour of the Palace of Versailles, or go to Salzburg, Austria and see Mozart’s birthplace.

Latin America

Between Costa Rica, Peru, Panama, Dominican Republic, or Belize, Latin America is a great place to explore. Learn about ancient cities and ruins, visit tropical rainforests, or see exotic wildlife up close.

Asia

Since Asia is such a huge place, it may be difficult to narrow down where you want to go. Maybe you'd like to visit China and see the Great Wall, visit the Forbidden City, and tour Beijing, host of the 2008 summer Olympic Games. If you are not interested in China, there is always India, where you can see the Taj Mahal. You could get to know the hip and exciting culture of the city of Tokyo, Japan.

Eligibility

When considering a study abroad tour (or if you are a professor, setting one up for your students), it is important to ensure that you are eligible for the company and/or program you are interested in. Be aware that some companies cater to high school students only.

Others may have an age range that includes college students. If a professor or faculty member has partnered with a company to organize a study abroad tour, it is likely you will have to be enrolled in a particular class to participate. All programs and companies are different so make sure you inquire as to the eligibility requirements of whichever one you would like to go on (preferably before you pay).

Tips for Students

I’m sure you’re all ready to pack your bags for your trip abroad, but before you do here are a few things to keep in mind:

Funds: It’s true, study abroad tours are definitely awesome, but let’s be real, they can be expensive. So unless you are in the lucky situation to not have to worry about money, it’s best to plan well in advance so you have time to save.

Research: On your study abroad tour there will definitely be planned activities for your group, but you will also have free time. Do your research on the cities you will be visiting so you know how you would like to spend that time and you don’t waste any opportunities.

Packing: One of the most common mistakes people make while abroad is over packing. You may be a person with remarkable self-control and manage not to purchase anything on your trip, but most likely you will come home with more items than you left with. Don’t put yourself in the position of paying pricey airline fees for extra baggage. Bring only the necessities and leave room for souvenirs.

Appreciation: Most importantly, while you are abroad take in and appreciate every moment and experience. Don’t be the person constantly making phone calls and sending emails back home. Most importantly, don’t let any disappointments ruin your mood.

Tips for Professors

As for you professors out there, there are a couple things you should keep in mind as well. Firstly, there are a plethora of opportunities available to lead a tour abroad. If you are unable to organize a tour abroad for your own students, don’t let that stop you. There are a ton of companies that take college students on travel tours abroad. At least one of them is bound to be looking for a great teacher to act as a leader and/or chaperone.

Lastly, if you are looking for a company to partner with in taking your students on a study abroad tour, don’t settle! There are so many out there, keep looking till you find one that fits all your needs and requirements.

Contributed by Rachel Westmore

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