What Classes Should I Take When Studying Abroad?

The most appealing part of studying abroad is, of course, traveling around the city or country in which you’re living. However, it’s important to remember the main thing you have to do: actually study! Depending on your major and the program you’re completing, your course requirements will differ. However, you might have some flexibility with your course selection. For example, as a communication studies major, I was able to take a wide variety of classes while still getting credit for them. I took a writing-intensive class that allowed me to complete a requirement that I would have had to complete with a much more boring class back at my home university.


So, what’s the first step in choosing my classes?

The first step, just like choosing classes at your home university, is to visit with an academic advisor. For my personal experience, I had to consult with an advisor different to the one I visited for my other classes, because he dealt specifically with the study abroad scheduling. I asked him for advice about how many classes to take, and he gave me some tips. For example, I was thinking about taking five classes-the number I’m used to. However, he pointed out that I’d want to have more time to explore. Because of his advice, I brought my course load down to four classes.

You should also consult with your go-to advisor about what requirements you need before choosing your classes. I had already met most of my requirements due to the fact that I was going abroad as an upperclassman. However, I still had one or two requirements that I was able to complete through the program. Check with your advisor about this, as it differs from student to student.

You may have a few extra prerequisites that you would like to get out of the way, or perhaps a foreign language requirement. Some programs may even offer courses more specific to your major, like a higher-level geography class or an exclusive course in psychology.
— USA Today
Photo by Yuya Hata

Photo by Yuya Hata

What are the best classes to take while I’m studying abroad?

That decision is ultimately up to you, based on your major and other personal interests. If you have enough elective credits to give you total freedom, take this opportunity to choose courses in subjects you’re passionate about or otherwise wouldn’t be able to take at your home institution. For example, I’m passionate about music. When I studied in London, I took a class called “Music in 20th Century Britain.” Not only did we learn about the most significant musicians in the time period of the course, but we also went to three live music events in the city. One of those bands became one of my new favorite bands to listen to. I had enough elective credits that I was able to take a class that truly interested me. I also know I definitely wouldn’t be able to take a class like that at my home university, so it was an incredible opportunity.

What program is best for me?

Again, this really depends on what you’re studying and where you want to go. Your university’s study abroad office can provide you with information about the different programs offered, including those offered through other universities. For example, if you want to study in Paris but your university doesn’t offer a program there, you can try to apply to a program at another university.

Your options might be more limited depending on your field of study. If you’re an engineering student, it might be more difficult to find a good program that fits the requirements you need to complete. Many universities offer programs for a wide range of majors, so there’s usually something for everyone.

It can seem like a stressful process to pick out the courses that you want to take while studying in another country or city. However, your university should have resources that make it as easy as possible for you to decide. There are so many different great options, so make sure to explore all the different subjects you can learn more about during your time abroad!