Whether you are considering your first schools to apply to or you are in your senior year and considering a change of scenery, studying abroad is an appealing option for anyone. It is a big decision though, and you should make sure you get as much information about it as possible before you jump in.
The first thing you will need to do is check in with your prospective colleges and learn which ones offer transfer programs for your credits. Just like international high-school educations and even international doctorate degrees, they are not always accepted in every other country, so you definitely cannot just throw a dart at a map and expect that your credits are transferable. That said, many colleges do have a network of schools in other nations where they have assessed their mutual programs and declared their equivalency, so those courses and credits in a program will transfer. Universities with study abroad programs will have more information. From there, you can build your list of options.
While it might seem like a daunting goal from the outside looking in, once you have the information in front of you, you can start looking at the amazing things that you can gain by studying in another country.
The most obvious? The sightseeing! You could be living and studying and be able to look out your window at renowned landmarks like the canals in Venice or the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Your time out of class might be boosted by access to a wealth of nearby attractions that you would otherwise only see and experience on short vacations. As well, you are likely to become immersed in the culture around these areas, which can be a truly eye-opening experience.
A valuable part of most international experiences will often be the language. The language difference is invariably one of the factors that makes most English speakers nervous. However, learning a second language is not impossible. Thousands of international students come to North America every year to study (successfully, too). English can be a very difficult language to learn. Universities with study abroad programs will likely have considered this in deciding which schools and programs to work with and may have suggested or mandated courses to take prior to or during your program. Language experts agree that being immersed in the language is one of the best and quickest ways to learn it, especially when combined with taking courses. It is by no means an insurmountable barrier.
And lastly, one of the greatest things about traveling, living, and studying in a foreign country is the people you will meet and the friends and connections you will make. You will meet people you would otherwise have never had the opportunity to connect with, and this can be life-changing. You can create your own network of friends with different backgrounds than yourself. That exchange of ideas and situations will change how you evaluate your own life and your own country.
Outside of creating your own network of pals, there are also many online communities of people who share their own experiences with each other, offer support and advice, and exchange ideas. People in these networks are often happy to answer questions and discuss their time abroad. These communities can be an incredible resource during your time researching where and when you want to travel as they will often have first-hand experiences that might relate and offer insight on your options. So, there is no need for you to become discouraged. There are barriers to going to school abroad, but they are definitely not enough to sidetrack your study-abroad goals. Reach out to the universities with study abroad programs and networks of people. Ask questions and determine your options. Find solutions to the barriers and you can make your dream of traveling while learning a glorious reality.