I think almost every high school student that enters into college hopes that before they graduate; they will study abroad. Now is the time when I am trying to figure out where and when I want to go to study abroad. Through my research of programs, I found that there are a few common categories that programs fall into. While I can in no way tell you which summer program is right for you, hopefully by showing you the major differences in programs the choice will become easier for you.
Home-Stay vs. Residence
Most summer programs have either a home-stay or a residence for their housing options. A home-stay is where you stay in the home of a local family that speaks the native language of that country. Here you get to directly experience what it would be like to live a day in the life of the people of that country. A residence option is when you live in a dorm or apartment with other students on the program. Here you get greater independence and you are able to experience what it would be like to live in a foreign country by yourself or with friends. Typically, the homestay options are more economical. Families open up their homes for rates that are cheaper than the typical landlord would charge. However, some people prefer the independence that comes with a residence stay.
Language Intensive vs. Not Language Intensive
I feel like there are typically a lot of misinterpretations about language intensive programs. Typically this means that if you are taking two classes during your time abroad, both of those classes will be language classes. This means that one class could be conversation orientated and the other could be grammar orientated. Non intensive language courses mean that you take one language class and then an elective course. Many people assume that non language intensive classes don’t have language and that is not always the case. Also, just because a program is language intensive does not mean you can’t participate if you are a beginner, check with the company and try to understand.
Transfer Credit vs. In Residence
This is a more college themed one. If a program is transfer credit that means that the courses you take will not transfer into your university GPA- they will simply show up as completed coursework on your transcript. In residence hours means that the grade you get in your class offshore is what will be factored into your university GPA and counts towards your in-residence hours that you need to graduate. Either way is fine, it simply depends on where you stand academically.
I hope these clarifications of a few study abroad terms helps you in your search for the right program. There are many questions you have to ask yourself. So enjoy, picking a study abroad choice is a wonderful time for teens to be introspective. All in all, if you get to fly off to a new shore in a land you have never seen before, the adventure will be wonderful. You will learn things about yourself you never knew. So get to researching! There are so many amazing programs to choose from.
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