Engineers today have to work with people from all over the world. Graduating from college with an experience abroad can give you an advantage when working with diverse groups of people from all over the world. While a study abroad can be a great experience, it can also be hard to come by as an engineering student. With our schedules packed every semester with difficult classes, fitting in a study abroad can seem impossible, but there are ways to make it work.
One option is to do a study abroad over a fall or spring break. Faculty at your university may lead groups of students to foreign countries on trips over a fall or spring break. Even if the trip is not through your engineering department, it can still be a great experience no matter what you will be learning on the trip. As engineers, we need to know how to communicate and think globally. You can work on these skills no matter what subject you are studying while abroad.
Another option is to do a summer program. This will also not interfere with the typical fall, winter, and spring semesters when most of your classes are. The summer after Freshman year could be a good time if you haven’t gotten an internship quite yet. You could even go on a study abroad the summer before you start college, or the summer in between undergrad and grad school. There are many options both through your university and outside programs that partner with universities. You do not even need to be able to speak a foreign language. They have study abroad programs for beginning through advanced language learners, and programs in English.
A third option is to work out an exchange with another university that has engineering. This is easiest in your first few years. Your university would love to have you study abroad, and if you want to study engineering in another country, go talk to your study abroad office about arranging a partnership with a university that has the engineering classes you need to take.
A fourth option is to take a whole semester or year off to study abroad. Even though it may set your graduation back, it can still be worth it! Taking extra time in school to have experiences that you will never forget can be very rewarding.
So consider studying abroad as an engineer! Look at programs early in your college career and don’t forget to apply for scholarships.