Navigating your way through the maze of opportunities

For many students a semester abroad is THE highlight of their course and, therefore, requires meticulous planning. But the wealth of information on the various partner universities is truly breathtaking. It may appear completely overwhelming to some students – assuming you’ve not given any thought to your stay overseas, not to mention the ideal partner university. I’m also torn between various locations and there are so many thoughts racing through my mind: “Which university or city would look best on my CV?”, “Where would I learn the most?”, “WHAT?! Only two places available? You can forget getting in there!”. I hope my thoughts and inner conflicts will be beneficial to everyone who, like me, feels stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Well then: For me personally, the choice of university is all about the location. The city. The country. The culture. Only then does the university come into play. Seeing as I’m already studying Spanish at ISM, I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at another language. Besides the academic aspects, I believe a semester abroad should also be defined by cross-cultural factors. “Which country or city interests me the most?”, “Where have I always wanted to go?”

Financial issues may also play a key role in the choice of the partner university. But I don’t want this restricting my decision, because let’s be truthful, the opportunity to spend a whole semester in a place of your choice, doesn’t come around too often.

I’m often accused of just wanting to holiday and travel around and that I only use expressions, such as “cross-cultural factors”, to embellish my selection criteria. My answer to these accusations: “So what?” You don’t have to justify all your decisions, and anyway I realise just how essential cross-cultural skills will be in our professional lives. My decision does not hinge on whether it’s a private or state-run university. I attach great importance to the range of courses and the reputation of the university. As I’m currently studying Communications & Marketing, the partner university should offer relevant programmes or specialise in the field of marketing.

I’m not yet sure where I’ll spend my semester abroad, although I’m currently toying with the idea of going to France. INSEEC in Paris or Bordeaux seems to suit my needs best. Nonetheless, I’ll continue to research other universities and go to presentations. Something I can highly recommend to anyone else who is in the same situation as me. Most of all, enjoy picking the right university and, of course, your semester abroad!

Author: Per Klocker