Study Abroad: The Process Begins

I’ve been entertaining the idea of studying abroad for a couple months ago. And while the decision to actually study abroad is no where close to being made, I am starting down the path. I sent an email to the Office of International Programs (OIP) and they had me come in when I had a chance (which I did today).

There, I was able to gain a some critical information. First, a list of schools that have reciprocating agreements with the Colorado School of Mines. Basically, this is the list that I will be picking a school from. Second, the deadline for applications: Mid-November 2007 for a Spring 2008 session. And finally, how I go about picking classes from the school and how I get them approved for transfer to CSM.

At this point, I’m leaning heavily towards the United Kingdom. Mostly because they speak English there and when it comes to foreign languages, I suck (at least I did in high school. Who knows, maybe I’m better now).

There are four Universities in the UK:

  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Surrey
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Wales, Swansea

I spent a bit of time looking at Surrey and Leeds. Leeds has the leading Electrical program in the UK. This is good. This is very good. Surrey has some space-related courses that I could take though. It’s also closer to London (which may or may not be a good, I haven’t decided yet).

I’m also somewhat considering Australia, Japan, Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and Turkey.

Much research is ahead and any comments or suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated, even if you’ve never traveled abroad.

For those that have traveled abroad, I might be seeking your counsel in the coming months.

17 Replies to “Study Abroad: The Process Begins”

  1. My suggestion is, forget the UK. In fact, forget all English speaking nations. When will you have the chance to live in Japan or Turkey? I’m sure everyone speaks English there anyway. Plus you’ll get to really experience a culture vastly different from our own. That’s a big part of why study abroad is so awesome. Good luck with your decision.

  2. Going to a English or non-English speaking country is going to be one of my big decisions.

    Flying halfway across the globe to another country with different rules and different customs (even in the UK) and staying there for four months is mildly panic inducing in me. All of the systems I have for school (i.e. people to study with, people to ask questions, places to go when I need help, etc) would be completely gone.

    Picking an English speaking country would alleviate at least one barrier I’d need to overcome again.

    But you do make an excellent point and ever since seeing Lost in Translation, I’ve wanted to visit Japan.

    The draw of staying in Europe (even if it isn’t the UK) is that there are so many countries right there. Weekend excursions would be awesome.

  3. I can’t argue with anything you said. However, in my experience, study abroad programs understand that you have no idea what you’re doing and they plan accordingly. There will be systems in place to help you become accustomed to the new systems. But yes, weekend excursions would be awesome in Europe. But I’m of the mind that weekend excursions would be better someplace you’d never be otherwise.

  4. i would recommend staying in an english speaking country. you already have a lot of school left so i assume you are looking for engineering classes to transfer to mines?

    those classes will be stressful enough without trying to worry about understanding anyone in the country. my friend piya lived in chile for five months and took her business classes in spanish. she had already taken four years of college spanish so she was definitely fairly fluent but the chilean accent and everything made classes infinitely more stressful.

    im more worried about hen you go… please make sure it matches with my work schedule so i can stalk you.

  5. I don’t think you’ll be taking classes in any language other than English in any of the countries you mentioned. The study abroad programs you’ll be looking at will be in English, so you shouldn’t have to worry about any stressful language problems in your classes. Not to mention the fact that people all over the world speak English. You may get some conversational language skills, but if push comes to shove, people will be able to speak to you in your native tongue.

  6. though the classes would be in english, the streets and such would not be.

    i just think a new language would be a lot of stress, andrew was designed for numbers, not words.

  7. I have a little more faith in Ferg’s resourcefulness (not to mention the good planning of the programs themselves) than that.

  8. Fergie2020 (7:49:03 PM): language classes have never been my forte
    PLUS
    Mostly because they speak English there and when it comes to foreign languages, I suck

    personally, if i was to study abroad, it would be first and foremost to learn the language. but im obsessed with language. i also know PLENTY about europe since everything i have learned my entire life has been incredibly eurocentric, if i was to look for an english speaking country, it would be south africa or somesuch.

    but im not andrew.

    from what andrew has said, it seems as though he is interested in studying engineering at a university with mines reciprocity. those schools will be difficult. add in an entirely new environment and culture, that sounds especially stressful. if he isnt interested in somewhere with another language, england sounds perfect. especially since he liked it last summer but could only spend a short amount of time there. and europe will definitely provide plenty of opportunities to encounter other languages. but it wont make english seem so alienating.

    this is such a silly argument. i officially quit.

  9. You both have some good points; and despite your flamewar-esqe postings, your thoughts have been helpful.

    I think the question at the end of the day becomes: “How stressed/worried do I want to become?” At first glance, it might make sense to attempt for a zero stress/zero worry environment.

    But I’ve found that this actually ends up being detrimental to by studying. I need some stress, some worry, and some anxiety to push me forward.

    Thus, the trick becomes how much? Even in the last year, my ability to deal with more stressful situations and higher levels of anxiety without me shutting down has improved dramatically and I expect for it to continue to increase as time goes on (probably in a logarithmic fashion).

    Jeff is right, I am quite resourceful. And while I’m not the greatest at language (save computer languages), there are patterns all around that are pretty easy to pick up (kind of like math). In Italy, I also reaffirmed the fact that I’m absolutely superb with visual landmarks (I knew I was pretty good with it in the States, but I wasn’t sure how being in a non-English country would affect things).

  10. just go to quebec. πŸ™‚
    just kidding. you should evaluate what your goals are, what you want to get out of this whole study abroad program. my goal was to become fluent in french, but also just to get out of this blandland. mainly, what prompted me to go was my co-worker chelsea who studied at the university of london. she told me all the time about what an incredible experience it was and how she wished she could go back all the time, and i wanted to have something like that, some awesome and life-changing experience. so i took a big, deep breath and said, “quebec, here i come”. and it was the hardest, scariest, worst, most challenging, and BEST thing i’ve ever done. i think that no matter where you go, studying abroad will completely change your life, your dreams, your goals, and even your personality. so it’s pretty much just what you’re looking to get out of it. do you want to learn scientific stuff, or cultural stuff, or what? i mean, i know you’ve said you’re not that into language, but do you want to face extreme culture shock and completely change your perspectives and become more mature and worldly? or do you want to just learn about science and have international experience so you can get an even better job later on? i have to tell you, i wouldn’t stress too much about the language barrier. people are surprisingly forgiving. so if you really want to go to japan, go to japan! that would be an amazing place to figure out who YOU really are. i think the more challenged you are, the more you grow, so if you’re looking for that, go to the place that challenges you the most. but if you just want to further your career, go somewhere safer. england would still be incredible. i’d take that over missouri! πŸ™‚

    this probably wasn’t at all helpful. i apologize. this is better. don’t think about the question, just answer it with the first thing that pops into your head: where do you want to go most in the world?
    (there’s your answer.)

  11. If you are going to study a broad, I would think that they are all pretty much the same no matter which country you go to………but I would have to say that it’s about time! Much love…..

  12. I like Kim’s idea about finding out what you’re looking for in a study abroad experience, but I beg to differ with “The Aunt”.

  13. If you are seriously thinking about Turkey, feel free to ask me questions or look at my guidebooks. A fair amount of people do speak English there (especially in Istanbul) and simply learning some basic phrases will provide access to all you need to get around. I think much of the decision comes down to what you are looking for in a study abroad program and how much deviation from the American culture you think you desire or can stand.

  14. So I think my plan of attack is to look what each college offers. If the college isn’t any good (when compared to Mines) or doesn’t offer the courses I need, then it’s off the list. This should hopefully narrow it down to a couple handfulls.

    After I narrow it down to the acceptable colleges, I’ll start looking other factors, such as travel opportunities, language barriers, cultural experience oportunities, and the like. As I tighten and redefine those factors, I should be able to get it down to just a couple colleges.

  15. Hi Andrew, I stumbled across your web site and I’m very curious where you ended up going. I spent an exchange year in Finland and a few years later moved to Germany for a while. Turkey is a wonderful and diverse country with great food and generous people. Sweden is hip and cosmopolitan and they speak English like you and I. My nephew is currently studying in Japan. His comments are about how very prejudice they are and what a crazy system they have. Here is my two cents worth of advice. No matter where you go, you’re going to want to go back to visit at some point. DEN to LHR (London Heathrow airport) is a whole lot cheaper than DEN to Istanbul or Tokyo or down under. I’ve sent dozens of exchange students abroad and they all come back wanting to go back. It’s just a matter of time and money. Thus, England seems like a good place to start. However, Finland is the best country in the world. lol
    Good luck.

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