Why should you study abroad? You can:

  • Experience another way of life
  • See the world
  • Receive academic credit towards your degree
  • Visit historical, literary and artistic sites
  • Enhance your resume
  • Make friends around the world
  • Gain a new perspective on world issues
  • Improve your foreign language skills

Myths about Study Abroad

I can’t study abroad if I don’t speak a foreign language. A long-held misconception about studying abroad is that you have to know a second language. Not true! In fact most study abroad programs are in English, to facilitate wider participation by students in varied academic fields, unless you are looking for a program to learn or improve a second language skill. If foreign language is your interest, you can find a program where you can combine language study with English language course work or a full immersion program, where all courses are offered in the country’s language.

It costs a lot more to study abroad. Another myth is that studying abroad is not affordable. While studying abroad will cost more than remaining on campus, the difference may not be as great as it may seem with careful financial planning and depending upon where you choose to study. London, for example, is one of the most expensive cities in the world, as is Tokyo. In part this is why we strongly suggest that you explore your options early, not only for academic reasons but also for planning your finances. Moreover, additional costs will depend on how much traveling you do around your host country, plus your everyday spending habits. What you end up spending depends on your lifestyle.

I can’t use financial aid to study abroad. In general, financial aid applies to study abroad programs. Most financial aid, except for Federal work/study money, state, and institutional (St. Mary’s grants and scholarships) aid, should travel with you. You should make an appointment with the Office of Financial Assistance early in your preparation to study abroad to avoid any last-minute difficulties. In addition, you should schedule an appointment with the Business Office to plan payment arrangements, having first completed the following forms:

It is important to understand that the international programs that St. Mary’s offers do not cost the same as the total cost on the home campus. The difference in price can affect the amount a student (or the student’s family) may have to absorb “out of pocket.” Financial aid will be readjusted to calculate the increased cost of the program, and when possible more aid will be available to the student, usually through alternative student loans.  The student can also research external funding. A scholarship search engine for students studying abroad is GoOverseas.

If I study abroad, I won’t be able to graduate on time. Not true! Another misconception about studying abroad and completing an undergraduate degree in four years is that it can’t be done. Once again, if you plan early for the study abroad experience by speaking with both your academic advisor and the Office of International Education Programs, you can graduate on time, assuming you achieve a minimum of a C averages in your courses abroad.

I won’t get transfer credit for all my courses on study abroad. The St. Mary’s courses and those taken through our host country affiliated institutions will transfer back to St. Mary’s with full credit assuming you receive prior approval and grades of C or above. The St. Mary’s Registrar, advisors, overseas resident directors, and the Office of International Education Programs must review these courses prior to registration and participation in the program to assure their academic quality and integrity. If you have any doubts or concerns, consult your academic advisor and the Registrar’s Office.