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Students Start Here!

So, you’re a UAB student and you are interested in studying abroad. You’ve made a great choice!
Now, how do you get started? You have made it to our website, so you’re on the right track. Our website is full of great information to help you start planning your journey!
The first thing you will need to do is decide where and when you want to study abroad. This will require some reflection and it is important to ask yourself what you are hoping to get out of this experience.

Deciding when to study abroad

At UAB, the best time to go abroad is during your sophomore year. Junior year is doable for many students, but your locations will be more limited.  It is possible to study abroad during your senior year, but you may find it challenging to graduate on time. Select programs are open to freshmen, contact our office for details.
Program lengths vary from one week abroad to one year abroad. Semester and yearlong programs are by far the most cost-effective and immersive experiences.  We do, however, offer shorter-term summer programs. 

Deciding where to study abroad

Language of Host Country

Going abroad to learn a language can significantly boost your language skills. If you are not going abroad to learn a language, think about whether you want to go to a country where English is the native language.  If not, will you be comfortable getting around in a country where you do not speak the official language? It may be challenging at times, however, technology available today makes it much easier! Apps like Google Translate can be a lifesaver! It is also helpful to learn techniques to communicate with someone who does not speak the same language as you.  wikiHow offers great tips. Click here to learn more. 

Major requirements

Studying abroad during your sophomore year is the best time to study abroad. It is easier to fit the courses abroad into your degree plan. When choosing your country, you will want to find out if the courses available in that country will allow you to progress in your degree. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure. The Office of Education Abroad is here to help you, and this is something you will discuss when you meet with the Office of Education Abroad Advisor.


What type of climate do you want to live in? Do you want to experience something very different than home, maybe see the northern lights; or is your ideal location somewhere warm and sunny with great beaches nearby?


Accommodations vary by Education Abroad program and include dormitories, apartments, and homestays.

Dormitories and Apartments

Dorms and apartments are great for students that want to have more independence than living with a host family and/or students who have strict eating habits. Unlike residence halls at UAB, most foreign dormitories and apartments do not have meal plans, but will have a shared kitchenette where you will be able to cook meals for yourself.


Homestays are great if you want to immerse yourself in the daily life of a local family or if you are studying a language and want more opportunities to practice. Also, think of the home-cooked authentic food you will have!  

Local Life

Think about what is important to you and what you want to experience in your host country. Do you want to study abroad in a big city or small town? How about a place that has many other Americans or mostly locals living there?  What is the campus like? Are there any famous landmarks, sights or tourist attractions close by that you'd like to visit? What is there to do when you’re not in class?


How close will you be to an airport, train station or bus station? Do you want to visit nearby countries/cities in your free time? If so, are you close to countries/cities you want to visit? How long will it take you to travel to different locations?


Do you enjoy the type of food served in that country? If not, can you buy the ingredients in the grocery stores to cook what you like for yourself?  Food is often a major part of many cultures and can be a source or culture shock or homesickness if you really don’t like the local cuisine.


The cost of the program is strongly tied to the cost of living in that particular location.  Programs in smaller cities and towns are generally more affordable than in big cities.  In addition, programs in developing countries are generally more affordable than those in more developed countries. For example, a program in Hull, England, will be more affordable than London, while programs in Costa Rica will be even more affordable than that!

Meet with an Office of Education Abroad Representative!

Of course, the Office of Education Abroad is here to help you!  If you are having a hard time deciding where and when to go, be sure to make an appointment with one of our Peer Counselors.  They specialize in helping students pick their programs.  Click here to see where each Peer Counselor studied abroad, then conveniently book your appointment!

Additional Research

Be sure to check out more information on our website at the following links: