Whether you just plan to spend a semester abroad or are thinking about following up on a career opportunity outside of the United States, there are several important things you should be clear about before you purchase your plane ticket!
First the hard facts:
- Do you already have a country or region that is “pulling you”? If so, where is that – and why?
- What have you done to prepare yourself to live there? What do you know about that country’s history, customs and laws?
- Do you already know (at least a little of) the language?
- Are you up-to-date on the current events in that part of the world? Do you read their news regularly or follow any (expat) blogs about life there?
If you are a student:
- Do you understand the difference between the American education system and the system in the country where you’ll be staying? Do you know how university life is organized or have any insights into what student life is like there?
- What do you know about the tradition of how your major is approach and taught there?
If you are thinking about moving abroad:
- Have you investigated whether or not you can parlay your present occupation into a way to support yourself – at least for awhile – when you first move abroad? Would you need additional certification or training? What are the possibilities for you to segue into an overseas position with an American company or organization in that sector?
- If your present occupation won’t provide you with a source of income, what else would you consider doing? Have you looked into employment possibilities with American companies or organizations in that sector in the country of your choice?
Talking about your personal development:
- What are the three main ways you expect studying/living abroad to enrich your life?
- What five personal characteristics do you believe will equip you to successfully face the challenges of living abroad?
- What are the three things you are most afraid of when it comes to leaving your life in the States behind you??
- What inner strengths or resources do you possess to help you through the “rough spots” – physically, emotionally and spiritually?
- What one big personal goal would you like to achieve while living abroad?
- Is there any professional goal you’d also like to realize?