The majority of students who study abroad with ISEP tend to be undergraduate students. ISEP student James N. is an exception to the norm. He is a graduate student from Arkansas State University spending a full year studying history at Universidad Americana in Nicaragua. James shares a few snippets of advice on how to prepare for a year abroad as a graduate student, manage homesickness and have fun in your host country.
As a graduate student studying abroad, I think I have had a very different experience than I would have as an undergraduate. Study abroad for non-traditional students is just not that common, especially at my school. I have to say that there were a lot of unknowns before I left. Even after I arrived there were days in which I was not sure that a year abroad as a graduate student was the best idea. That being said, I am happy that I decided to go through with my studies here in at Universidad Americana in Nicaragua. The country never fails to amaze me with its beauty and diversity. My experiences are giving me new perspectives on my field of study every day. So, I would like to share three pieces of advice with future graduate students who are thinking about studying abroad.
1. Make sure your studies abroad will be beneficial to your program at home
First and most importantly, make sure your studies abroad will be beneficial to your program at home. It can be especially hard for graduate students to get credit for all the courses they want to take abroad. In my case, I am receiving credit from my home institution for half of my courses, but I am receiving a postgrad certificate in my field from my host institution.
2. Don’t think just because you are a graduate student that you will not experience homesickness and culture shock
Homesickness and culture shock happen to all of us, and both get better once you make friends and find people you can talk to about these things. Also, do not be afraid to reach out to your fellow international students — even if they are undergraduates. You are all in the same situation, more or less, and they will be more helpful than you may realize.
3. Do not lose sight of why you are studying abroad
If it is to supplement your research, then start working on it right away, but do not forget to have a social life. Studying abroad is one of the best ways to compliment your graduate education. Have fun exploring another country and make yourself more employable while you are at it! It is so worth it.
Interested in studying abroad as a graduate student? Many ISEP institutions offer programs for graduate students via both ISEP Exchange or ISEP Direct. James has the right idea — start planning your year abroad early! The application deadline for Spring 2017 is September 1.
An earlier version of this post was shared on October 23, 2013.
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