The weather outside might still be frightful, but there are many upcoming opportunities that are delightful! Summer will be here before we know it and it is time for you to start thinking about how you will spend your time. If you are thinking about spending time abroad, read on.
You may be asking yourself, with so many programs offering similar things, which program should I choose? Several factors can help you decide which program to select. The most important factor to consider is personal safety. Research the political situation of the country you are interested. Check out www.travel.state.gov
for a listing of countries that are on the State's Department Warning List.
Housing is another important factor to consider. Some programs have host families or dorms that house participants, while others offer no accommodation.
Cost is always relevant. You may want to ask the program what is included in any fees. For example, do they provide transportation within the country, or does the student have financial responsibility for all transportation? Do the programs organize excursions, and how much extra might they cost? On occasion, they may even provide cellular phones.
Finally, assess your objectives. Is language acquisition or strengthening a primary objective? Do you want to go as an observer or do you want hands-on activity? Ask the program specific questions to make sure that your objectives will be met. You should also be aware of what types of environments you enjoy working in. Are you an independent person who wants to work in environments where there is less structure? Or do you enjoy working with a group in a very structured program? Also examine your program's approach to service. Is it compatible with your value system? Consider whether the program is religiously based, grassroots based, or paternalistic.
Good luck in selecting a program! For additional information, visit AMSA's Going Abroad Toolkit
. There are checklists and a worksheet for comparing different programs.