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Where to Go?

Students are encouraged to consider their major/minor and other academic goals as their main priority when making a program decision…but cultural and geographical considerations are of course also a factor in selecting a program.

Deciding on your location for study abroad may be one of the most critical decisions you face. Some students know right away exactly where they want to study. But for others, deciding whether to study French in Paris or Senegal, or chemical engineering in Hong Kong or Valencia, may be difficult. Your interests, objectives, and personality will play a big role in your decision, so think carefully about who you are and what type of cultural experience you prefer. However, keep in mind that no one place will be perfect; and, at the same time, every place will be infinitely more interesting than you can imagine.

Before choosing your location you may want to ask yourself:

  • Have I researched the political, social, health and safety situations in my country of choice?
  • Is my destination of choice affordable?
  • Am I going to learn or improve a foreign language?
  • Do I want to live in a remote or rural environment, a small town, or a bustling city?

For how long?

Rice-approved study abroad programs offer students the opportunity to study for a semester, full academic year or summer term.

Studies find that longer term study abroad programs, such as a full semester or a year, offer students the greatest benefits. Long-term programs provide students with the chance to fully immerse themselves in the host culture - meeting local people and experiencing the culture for an extended period. This type of full immersion leads to deeper cross-cultural understanding.

However, in some cases a shorter term or summer abroad program may be more desirable and appropriate if you have family obligations or graduation requirements that prevent you from going abroad for a longer duration. For some students, a lengthy study abroad experience is too costly, and for others who are involved in campus activities or collegiate sports, it is sometimes not feasible to be abroad for more than a few weeks during a break or the summer.

Some general questions you may want to ask yourself are:

  • How long can I afford to be abroad financially?
  • How will my time abroad coordinate with the course/credit requirements I will need to graduate?
  • How much time do I want to spend away from family and friends?
  • What are my objectives while abroad and how long will it take to accomplish them?