Study abroad: a how to

The study abroad blues may not be so foreign to students wishing to get out of the country.

According to posters scattered around campus, students intending on studying abroad next fall have missed the boat, and those who have their sights set on next spring should have already begun preparing.

ItÕs a stressful process, but itÕs also one that more students than ever are going through.

The Office of International Education is helpful, but even its instructions can get confusing. HereÕs a step-by-step guide that will get you to your destination successfully, without losing your mind along the way:

My process began during the fall of my second year at UVM.

To say my knowledge of studying abroad was minimal would be an understatement. My only priority: that I study in an English-speaking country.

My first piece of advice is to do research, and lotÕs of it.

Your first stop should be the UVM Study Abroad Office website.

ItÕs the jackpot of research, complete with a thorough checklist of things to do before going abroad and a budget form for your financial planning.

Trust me, a checklist will be your bible up until the day you depart.

Apart from choosing where to go, money can be the most difficult roadblock for a student on a budget.

No need to fret, however. The UVM SOA is on your side. The detailed budget list has to be filled out, reviewed by a staff member and handed in weeks before you get the seal of approval to study abroad.

Preparation is key. A budgeted student can succeed if enough time is devoted to the plan.

The support does not stop there. After you choose a destination, you are assigned a Study Abroad adviser.

The adviser is there to answer any questions that come to mind and to help ensure that your experience meets every one of your desires.

Choosing a program is perhaps the most stressful part of the process

UVM offers a variety of programs that cater to many different types of student interests.

I didnÕt seem to fit any of the programs that were provided, so I chose to go through Butler UniversityÕs Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA).

This program gave me the independence I wanted but remained an outlet for any questions or troubles I had along the way.

Another aspect that grants consideration is your GPA. Although going abroad is a fulfilling experience, this can lead to distractions from schoolwork. This can be an issue if your GPA transfers.

Some programs like IFSA-Butler only transfer credit, not grades. Your GPA will not be affected, however you still need to pass in order for the credit to transfer.

Although at times it may be hard to focus, the different academic system abroad is part of the experience.

When abroad, live in the moment. Be spontaneous and safe. Be exciting and thoughtful. This mindset warrants a semester of a lifetime.

And just remember, a prepared journey is a great one.