Olivia Harrison is a second-year student in the Crosby MBA program. She became interested in studying abroad as an undergraduate, but the timing never seemed right. When she heard she could travel internationally as an MBA student, she did everything she could to make it happen. She hopes her insights will help others do this, too.
I can’t afford to study abroad. It’s time consuming. It’s a big commitment. It will never work with my schedule. Studying abroad is only for undergraduates.
With the right preparations, you can study abroad — even as a full-time MBA student. The Crosby MBA program will help make it happen.
- Research the program
Learn more about the country and the program you’re interested in by searching online, talking to those who have been there previously, reading blogs of others’ experiences, perusing the school’s website, and visiting the MU’s International Center. It’s up to you to find the answers to your initial questions, and find additional questions you should be asking.
- Talk to advisers
As soon as you’re interested in study abroad, talk to your advisers. That gives them a jumpstart figuring out how to make it happen. Academic advisers will know when your schedule would allow you to go and the courses you should take, identifying which fit your degree progress best. Advisers will connect you with the International Center and an adviser at the hosting institution. That way you can ask those who know about registration, courses descriptions, welcome events, and more. Advisers also can talk to your peers to generate interest, so you might not have to go alone.
- Plan financially
Studying abroad is expensive. The sooner you decide to go, the sooner you can begin applying for scholarships and developing a budget. The budget isn’t just for your time abroad, it’s for your spending before departure. It could make all the difference in your experience. For example, ten large lattes could mean a train ticket. Two concerts tickets could help pay for your flight. You also must understand how any financial support received through your MBA program could be affected, making sure you can meet any obligations for that aid during the experience.
- Book housing and flights
Do this early. Once you have been accepted into a program and committed to the experience, connect with other students going abroad as well as your adviser at the hosting institution, then start looking for the best deal on housing. Flights booked early also save you headaches and money.
- Register for classes
Talk to both your adviser at home and the hosting institution to determine which classes would be most beneficial — as an MBA student as well as a foreign student. Check to see if there is a language requirement and check out the class ratings.
- Connect with friends and family
Hopefully you plan to stay in touch while away. Figure out which apps or software works for your friends and family — and that they know how to use them. Let people know where you’re going and how to reach you. Research whether to unlock your phone or buy a new one upon arrival. Connect with friends or current students at the host university, and look for exchange student organizations to ease any anxiety if you are going it alone.
- Arrange passports and other government documents
Your passport must be up to date. Have all of your legal documents ready, and make extra copies: one to take with you and another to leave at home. Sign up to receive safety updates for your country through the appropriate U.S. Embassy page.
- Don’t forget the details
Start looking at the weather so you know what to pack. (You don’t want to be wearing shorts in the middle of winter!) Ask your adviser at the hosting institution or an exchange buddy what style is appropriate and what colors of clothing are acceptable. If you plan to do additional travel while abroad, make arrangements before leaving so time doesn’t get away from you. Update your health information and prepare your medications, if needed.
- Keep a journal
You’re going to have so many amazing experiences, see so many beautiful sights, and learn so much about the culture — and about yourself. Make sure you have a way to remember it all, whether you plan to journal for yourself or write a blog to share your experience with others.
- Have fun
Study abroad isn’t just about what happens in the classroom, it’s about the whole experience. Enjoy your time!
Olivia is studying abroad at Maastricht University with fellow MBA student Kevin Nielson. Check here for updates from Kevin and Olivia’s time in the Netherlands as well as other stories from students’ international experiences.