As an international student considering universities overseas, you may be choosing between multiple destination countries, not just the United States. What if you don’t have to decide? What if you could attend a university in the U.S. but also spend a semester or a school break studying in an additional country or two? Well, there’s good news for you adventurous types: You can!
If you study in the USA on an F1 visa, you are allowed to take part in your university’s approved study abroad programs. These are the same programs domestic students take part in all the time and, as an international student, you’re entitled to the same amazing benefits study abroad can bring. Learning a new language, experiencing a different culture, building a global network—these are all perks of spending time abroad. Many international students will later find themselves in global careers, working for multi-national companies that value employees who understand the customs of a diverse range of countries. Think how impressive it will look on your resume to be a world traveler before you’ve even begun your professional life.
If this possibility appeals to you, it’s not too soon to start your research. By simply visiting the study abroad page of any university to which you’re considering applying, you can find a full list of locations where overseas programs are offered. As you look at the websites, ask yourself: Do they offer locations you like? Do they offer programs that fit your major? Does the study abroad office seem to offer support to all students, including ones not from the U.S.? Support from advisors is key to studying abroad, as they’ll help you identify programs that best fit your four-year college plan. That means, yes, you can typically study elsewhere for a semester (or even two) and still graduate on time.
Though you likely won’t study abroad until sophomore or junior year, international students need to plan their travel further ahead than others. Once you’re on your university campus, don’t just visit the study abroad office—you’ll want to visit the international services/students office, too. The staff there should be able to help you secure any further visas you may need to travel on to other countries outside the U.S. and ensure you’re following enrollment rules that will allow you to retain your F1. With a little planning and the right guidance, who knows how many stamps will be in your passport by graduation!