Study Abroad Frequently Asked Questions

What are the common barriers for study abroad?

Check out the videos and hear directly from the students who did study abroad themselves.

What study abroad programs are offered through U-M?

There are numerous options administered by many of the schools and colleges at U-M. Many U-M study abroad programs can be found on M-Compass. See U-M Study Abroad Offices and Programs for more information.

Can I get credit towards my degree for studying abroad? What if I am going on a non-U-M program?

LSA students going on a U-M study abroad program will receive in-residence credit with grades, as if taking courses in Ann Arbor. Students from other schools/colleges need to talk to their academic advisors about whether the credit will count toward in residence credit or transfer credit. For both UM and non-UM programs, in order to receive credit towards a major, students must get additional pre-approval by a concentration advisor. For non-U-M programs, students should contact an academic advisor when deciding on a program in order to make sure that credit will transfer. For more information see Academic Credit Options.

Can I study abroad if I don't speak a foreign language?

Yes–it is common to study in a country where English is the local language, of course. Alternatively, even in countries where another language is spoken, study abroad programs taught mainly in English usually are available – search M-Compass to find such programs. 

I've studied a foreign language, but studying abroad entirely in a foreign language sounds scary. What kind of academic achievement is expected of me?

Many study abroad programs offer special foreign language courses for program participants which are designed to be appropriate for the student's level of competency in that language (this will be stated in the eligibility requirements). Students who take regular classes in a foreign language alongside host-country students should expect a challenging academic environment and should be prepared to put forth extra effort in overcoming the language barrier. It is important to note that most professors understand the situation of international students and will usually issue grades and evaluate effort with a student's language difficulties in mind.

I receive financial aid – can I use it for study abroad? What about scholarships?

For U-M programs, you can use your financial aid and the Office of Financial Aid will process your package. For non-U-M programs, consult the Office of Financial Aid about whether your federal aid will transfer to the program. Students who receive scholarships through U-M should also talk to the OFA about how going on a non-UM program would impact their package. As for scholarships, these are most often made available for specific study abroad programs, although there are a few national scholarships which can be used for any study abroad program. For more information, see Funding Your Study Abroad.

How do I make friends at a university abroad? Should I just hang around with the Michigan students who are also on the program or other Americans who are there?

To meet local students and friends, students must be friendly and active about making friends; local students may appear standoff-ish. It is also worthwhile to meet international students that are studying at your site. International students are in a similar study abroad situation and trying to make friends as well. Engage in orientation seminars, ice-breakers, and events to meet people. Other Americans and UM students that are studying abroad is a third option for a social circle. However, spending time only with Americans could have negative effects on the rate of foreign language acquisition.

(When abroad): Sometimes I get extremely homesick, sometimes I feel like I never want to go back home. Are these feelings normal?

It is normal to get homesick and it is normal to fall in love with your host country. In short, be prepared for many emotional ups and downs, but do not let these spoil the experience abroad. Most students remember the good things, and very few students report negative experiences when they return. 

(When abroad): I am sick of people complaining to me about how much they don't like American foreign policy. How should I react in these situations?

Indeed many students have reported being bombarded with criticism about the current president, American foreign policy, and sometimes even the American lifestyle. This may make students uncomfortable, especially when they are torn between defending policies they might not personally agree with and standing up for their country. Don't be surprised if you find yourself expressing opinions you never thought you would just because someone is telling you how bad they think the USA is. The best strategy is probably to keep discussion on the level of civilized debate and not to let passions run too high.

Do I need a bank account? How do I open one and what is the best way to transfer my money abroad?

For an extended stay abroad a local bank account can be very useful. Ask for an ATM/Debit card that will make financial transactions much easier and more cost-effective. It is possible to withdraw cash abroad with an American ATM/Debit card for a small fee and deposit it into the foreign account. Also, most American banks will perform international wire transfers to your new account abroad for roughly $50. It is also useful to give a friend or parent power-of-attorney over your American account so they can endorse checks for you or transfer money from that account to you abroad. If you plan on using your ATM/Debit card abroad, it is a good idea to change your PIN to a 4-digit number since foreign ATM machines may only accept 4 digits. Your study abroad program will likely also have site-specific information about this. See our page on finances for more information.

I'm ready to study abroad – what do I need to do now?

Students should see the University of Michigan Global Portal to explore study abroad options through schools and colleges on campus. Students should also make an appointment with the International Center’s peer advisors to discuss new discoveries and thoughts about studying abroad.

Should I apply to more than one study abroad program during my program search and application process?

Applying to multiple programs, which often means paying multiple application fees, is not usually necessary. You might want to apply to several different programs if you are still considering several options, if you might not meet all program requirements, such as the minimum GPA, or if you are applying very close to the application deadlines since programs stop accepting students once they have filled up.