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Online Resources to Prepare Students for Study Abroad

As vaccines roll out globally, higher education institutions are making plans to get students back into study abroad programs. Some students daydream about rattling off phrases flawlessly in another language or doing research at a field station deep in the middle of the rainforest. But even before getting on the plane, there are a lot of things students need to know to make the most of an educational experience in another country.

So where to start?

This guide highlights 15 online resources to help students prepare for learning overseas to get the most out of their study abroad experience, including each service’s unique features, customization options, and more.

Please note that unless otherwise specified, these tools are available for Apple and Android devices, including computers, tablets, and phones.

Study Abroad Directory: GoAbroad

Spending time abroad not only fulfills academic goals, but also lets students experience a new culture, language, and environment. Nailing down all the details can seem overwhelming, but to help, GoAbroad maintains a directory of over 30,000 study abroad programs with tools to refine their search.

Students can search the database by selecting a given country, program type, subject matter, or desired dates of study, making it easier to determine what program is best for them.

Study Abroad Directory: IIE Passport

IIE Passport maintains a database of study abroad programs for U.S. students dreaming of learning in a foreign country but not quite sure where to get started.

With so many programs available, the database helps students narrow down their choices to determine what program is best for them. Students can use filter options to find programs based on country, desired study length, subject, and language. Students can also learn more about scholarships, grants, and fellowships available.

The site also provides unique guides for academic professionals, teachers, faculty, and administrators.

English Language Program Directory: IIE Passport

In addition to the services covered above, IIE Passport maintains a database of intensive English language opportunities for foreign students seeking to strengthen their English language capabilities. With so many programs available, the directory serves as an interactive database that international students and educational advising centers can access to find intensive English programs throughout the United States.

Both the directory and online database provide English language-learning programs with cost-effective marketing that reaches their target audience: the advisors who work closest with international scholars looking to study in the United States. Students and advisors can filter programs based on program or institution, subject, and state.

Country Guides: Study Abroad

This online resource offers elaborate country guides that cover everything from costs of living to scholarships and visa applications. The guides also present an overview of the schools and universities, as well as available bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD programs.

Each country guide is independently researched by educational experts and validated for the most relevant and up-to-date data and sources. The site currently features country guides for international students in the following destinations: Austria, Belgium, China, Cyprus, Estonia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, UK, USA.

CIA World Factbook

The World Factbook provides basic information on the history, people, government, economy, energy, geography, environment, communications, transportation, military, terrorism, and transnational issues for 266 world entities.

These guides can be useful for students seeking to learn more about their host nation’s history, culture, and current issues to be aware of as they prepare for their study abroad experience.

Foreign Government Programs and Scholarships

This website, run by The Department of State’s USA Study Abroad program, serves as a database of foreign government programs and scholarships for U.S. students seeking to enrich their education through academic opportunities abroad.

The site has search filters based on scholarship, internship, and location, with information available for high school students, undergraduates, graduate students, scholars, teachers, and institutions.

U.S. State Department U.S. Student Abroad Resources

Exploring new destinations and experiencing other cultures is both rewarding and exciting, but it is also important to do so safely. This site compiles resources run by the U.S. State Department for students abroad to prepare them to navigate other countries safely while getting the most out of their educational and cultural experiences.

The site provides a traveler’s checklist for students to prepare, which creates an overview with:

  • Specific geographical and sociohistorical information about given destinations
  • What documents they will need (e.g., visas)
  • Where to sign up for our free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
  • Information about overseas insurance coverage

In spite of good planning, sometimes things can still go awry when you are in another country. The site recommends students prepare for the unexpected by reading about how to plan for a crisis overseas before they go. If they do find themselves facing an emergency situation, students can contact the American Citizens Services unit at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

The site notes that students with special considerations, such as women and LGBT+ travelers, may face additional challenges in other countries, of which they should be mindful and prepared.

U.S. State Department Travel Advisories

As a first step in planning any trip abroad, students should check the travel advisories for their intended destination. Students can see the world at a glance on a color-coded map.

Note that conditions can change rapidly in a country at any time and students can sign up to receive updated travel advisories and alerts via phone, text, or email through this site.

USA Government Study Abroad Webinars and Digital Materials

This website, run by The Department of State’s USA Study Abroad program, compiles various webinars and digital materials related to study abroad to help prepare and support U.S. students in their overseas educational experience.

Various topics include specifics about studying overseas, such as diplomacy, student stories, program information, general information, safety and security, student preparation materials, and building one’s study abroad capacity.

Study Abroad: A Guide for LGBTQ+

Studying abroad can be a defining moment in any student’s educational journey, one filled with opportunities for growth, numerous realizations, and meaningful experiences. For LGBTQ+ students, studying abroad can be not only an incredibly powerful educational experience, but it can also be an opportunity to expand understanding, awareness, and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community globally.

Every student deserves the chance to study abroad alongside their peers and experience all the world has to offer, and this guide outlines a few of the key points every LGBTQ+ student contemplating study abroad should consider.

Study Abroad: A Guide for Minority and Students of Color

Every student deserves to see the world, no matter their background or how they identify ethnically, racially, culturally, or otherwise. In addition to determining where they want to go, what they want to do, and what language they want to learn, students of color and other minority groups may have a few other considerations. What is it like being a Black student abroad? An Asian student abroad? A Latinx student abroad? A non-American student in a majority-American student program?

This guide includes resources to help prepare and support students along the way for issues specific to students of color and the international student experience.

Study Abroad: A Guide for Parents

Today’s graduates need a global mindset and international experience to compete for jobs. Studying abroad equips students with real-life, hands-on skills that no classroom can match while opening up a world of personal and professional opportunities.

Parents seeking to support their student while abroad may not be certain how to navigate the new experience, especially as they lack the physical proximity to help in certain situations.

This guide is packed with practical information written specifically for parents, and the authors make a strong case for the importance of parental involvement that can influence and shape a successful cross-cultural experience. Parents can learn how to help their students identify the right study abroad program, figure out financials, and stay safe and healthy.

Study Abroad: A Guide for Students

Studying abroad is an exciting opportunity, but choosing a program can be overwhelming. There are so many locations to visit and subjects to study that students may not know where to begin.

This guide gives students a starting point, providing all the information they need to pick the right study abroad program, including steps to selecting the right program, considering any related medical or safety preparations, creating a budget, and figuring out the best way to finance it. It also offers tips for students to get the most out of their experience, travel effectively, and save money in the process.

Study Abroad: A Guide for Women

Studying abroad is often associated with excitement, personal growth, and cultural awareness, but students should be aware that in some study abroad destinations, keeping safety in mind is just as important.

This article acts as a guide for issues women and female-identifying students should consider when traveling abroad for study, and some tips to navigate the new experience in a safe and meaningful way.

NAFSA Association of International Educators: Student Study Abroad Guides and Resources

The NAFSA Association of International Educators is an organization that supports and promotes international education and supports professional development. It offers free education guides and financial aid information for U.S. students intending to study abroad, as well as for international students planning a course of study in the U.S.

Online Resources to Prepare Students for Study Abroad

Chelsea Toczauer

Chelsea Toczauer is a journalist with experience managing publications at several global universities and companies related to higher education, logistics, and trade. She holds two BAs in international relations and asian languages and cultures from the University of Southern California, as well as a double accredited US-Chinese MA in international studies from the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University joint degree program. Toczauer speaks Mandarin and Russian.