Goal Setting for your Study Abroad Experience

As we enter a new year, many of us have come up with resolutions or goals to make 2015 more meaningful: eating healthier, exercising more, being happier, etc. Just as we set goals for a new year, those lucky enough to study abroad this year should also set goals for their study abroad experience. Many times people think that just by going abroad you are destined to come back more culturally aware, more independent, and ready to tackle anything life throws your way. But, this isn’t the case. You have to put forth the effort in order to reap the rewards of studying abroad. And by setting some personal goals before your departure, you can get the most out of your study abroad experience.


That’s easier said than done though. It’s easy to get caught up with the details, lists, and logistics that surround you before your study abroad experience. So, stop the packing and sit down for a few minutes to really think about why you wanted to study abroad in the first place – it’ll help you figure out what you want to get out of it. It might help to think about three different categories: personal, academic, and career. Most of our study abroad goals fall into one of those categories.


Set your study abroad goals with the intention of growing personally, academically, or professionally. By achieving your goals during your study abroad program, you will surely get the benefits you wanted to gain from studying abroad. Here are some ideas to get you going!

Personal Goals

  • Learn a new language
  • Become more open-minded
  • See the world
  • Engage with locals
  • Become an appreciation of diversity/cross-cultural competence

Academic Goals

  • Learn a new language
  • Understand the business environment/economy in a different country
  • Get first-hand experience with social issues in another country
  • Gain a different perspective from others in your field

Professional Goals

  • Make your resume stand out
  • Opportunity to get a job or increase salary
  • Get into graduate school
  • Jump start an international career

You will make your study abroad experience what it is. It all depends on what you put into it, who you choose to hang around with, how you spend your weekends. Everyone has a different experience studying abroad, so now is the time to decide what you want your study abroad experience to look like.

Happy 2015 and good luck setting your goals!!