Questions to consider when applying abroad

What are the key questions to ask yourself when deciding where to study abroad? We look at 6 introspective questions you'll need to answer to ensure you make all the right decisions.

For anyone applying to study abroad, there are many questions to answer throughout the process to ensure you make the right choices. Study abroad is complex and constitutes different things in different countries; the good news is that it means students have many options, and can find something in line with their preferences.

Some questions are simple, while some require more thorough consideration and research – in fact, some questions may not even be actually asked of you by others, but are rather more introspective which you’ll be required to pose to yourself.

Here are six questions to consider when applying to study abroad:

How long can I be away from home for?

Even those who are very close to their family, friends and home-life gradually acclimatize to studying abroad, making new friends and becoming more independent in the process. However, if you really think you can only last a certain amount of time abroad before you yearn to return, consider studying a course of shorter duration. Rather than studying an undergraduate degree which is three or four years long,  consider an associate’s degree which lasts just two years, or consider pushing back study abroad until your postgraduate studies (Master’s qualifications are often just a year long, full-time).

Am I a city or rural person?

You may not have really considered this before, but some people prefer one over the other. The fast pace of city life can be overwhelming for some, but thrilling for others; meanwhile the lethargy of rural life can be boring or inconvenient for some, while bliss for others. Consider factors like leisure and transport which will factor in your daily life in a new country.

Can I share a room with someone?

This is also among the important questions to consider when applying to study abroad. Campus culture differs according to country. Australian students will find themselves more likely to live off-campus, while universities in the UK will set aside more space on-campus for students to live (at least in their first year). The way that accommodation is laid out will differ too, with students expected to share a room with another student in some countries like the US or Hong Kong. Is this something you can handle, especially if you are an only child or quite introverted? Can you live in close quarters with someone who will be a stranger at first?

If you will be living with housemates or flatmates, consider how many maximum you can live with? Would you prefer to live with more people to keep things interesting, rather than a select few?

Can I cook for myself?

Some halls of residence on-campus will have the option of a meal plan included with them; this means dinner (and sometimes breakfast) is included in your rent. While this can save you the hassle of learning to cook for yourself, the menu may not vary very much and can be a little samey after a few weeks/months. While the menu may change as the seasons go by and there will be vegan/vegetarian options included, you’ll be required to eat in public. It can be more enjoyable to cook your own meals, as you can learn about more new foods this way. It’s also another way to become more independent, as cooking is an essential life skill for necessity and pleasure.

Do I pursue an interest or career?

A concern over competition in the graduate job market for many popular industries has meant there is a greater emphasis on courses which will lead smoothly to a chosen career. While it is very sensible to keep post-study life in mind when applying, you should also study something you are passionate about; after all, you’ll be studying this one subject intensely for a significant period of time alongside others who really know their stuff – you need to not only keep up with them, but enjoy your studies. While this all requires having some idea of the field you wish to move into before you commence study, you can still change paths, though it may not be exactly simple. If you choose passion/interest over career goals, how easily can you apply this qualification to other career paths? Can these skills or knowledge carry over to other areas?

What work options are available?

Some countries or regions are particularly thriving locations for certain industries, which makes finding graduate positions in those areas a lot simpler. For instance, many businesses have UK headquarters located in London which makes the capital attractive for Finance and Business graduates. While it may seem a long way away, it can be worthwhile to consider now. If you’re hoping to stay in the country once you’ve finished as a student, finding a job relevant to your degree will factor into your application for a visa.