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Choosing a Program

Think about the following questions as you research program options...

Goals

  • What do you want to gain from studying abroad?
  • Do you want to learn a language? Gain intercultural skills? Study or explore a particular subject?  Prepare for graduate school? Preparation for a particular career?

Academics

  • What type of academic system interests you – a U.S.-style system or a very different foreign system?
  • What type of program/courses do the programs you are interested in offer? Keep in mind that some host institutions abroad are very focused and you can only take classes in your major.
  • Are you comfortable with a program that consists of independent studio/independent projects, like most of our exchange programs? Programs like this allow you the freedom to define your own projects, conduct in-depth independent research, and focus your interests on specific topics. However, faculty supervision is less frequent than you are used to at MICA; therefore, self-direction and motivation are necessary!
  • What courses or requirements do you need to fulfill while abroad? Do you have enough space in your degree plan that you will be able to take advantage of local courses and subjects that are not available at MICA?
  • How many credits do you need to earn abroad?
  • Do you want to study the country’s history, culture, art, and language? 

Community

  • How can you become part of the host institution and/or local community – be more than just a tourist?
  • What student groups or local organizations can you join or participate in to increase your interactions with host country students? Are you motivated enough to do this on your own if it is not organized by the school? Think about hobbies or special interests that you could readily pursue while abroad (e.g., a sports team, a religion, a music group, etc).

Location, Size, and Logistics

  • In what country or region would you prefer to study and live?
  • What type of climate and terrain interest you?
  • Do you like big cities or smaller towns? 
  • Do the semester dates match MICA’s, or are they different? Are you comfortable with the semester dates if the program extends into June or July?
  • Can you go abroad for an entire semester, or would a summer study abroad program be more practical?
  • Can you afford to study abroad? Consider the cost of tuition, fees, housing, meals, insurance, cultural or other extracurricular activities, art supplies, trips, flights, health insurance, personal expenses, etc. Keep in mind that you can't work abroad due to visa restrictions.

Travel Arrangements

  • Will you be traveling by yourself or with others?
  • How much do you want to travel while abroad?
  • How much does traveling cost? By plane? By train? By bus?
  • Where is the nearest airport? Train station?

Housing

  • How and where do you want to live? Do you want to live like/with local students?
  • How much can you afford to spend on housing and meals?
  • What will you do about your housing in Baltimore while you are away? Are you interested in trying to sublet your room or apartment?
  • Are you comfortable finding and arranging your own housing abroad if the program does not offer assistance with this?

Students

  • Will you study primarily with host country students, international students, or other U.S. students? Would you prefer to be directly integrated into a university in the host country or do you want to take classes with other U.S. students?
  • Will you be part of a group from MICA or be independent?
  • Will you be with other art school students or a mix of majors and schools?

Language

  • Would you prefer a country where English is the primary language or to gain/improve your skills in another language?
  • Does the host site require language skills? If so, are you fluent enough to follow classes entirely in that language? This usually requires at least 4 semesters of college-level language.
  • If foreign language skills are not required but you do not speak the language of the host institution, what are your plans for making friends, contributing in class, and interacting effectively with faculty and staff? 
  • How can you maximize your language learning abroad?
  • Can you integrate language and cultural studies into your degree plan?

Services

  • Do you have special health or dietary needs?
  • What are the support services that are important to you and are they available at the host institution or in the host city/town? Do you need accommodations for a disability? If so, are the accommodations you need available abroad? Keep in mind that services and availability abroad may be different than in the U.S. Check with International Affairs well in advance if you think that you might need support services while abroad.
  • Do you prefer a program that has a full-time Resident Director on site to assist you if needed, or are you comfortable in a program that uses only the host institution’s staff? Remember that at many overseas institutions, support staff may have very limited office hours and typically do not offer the same degree of assistance with personal matters that one finds at U.S. institutions. If you prefer a high level of student service, consider a program such as MICA @ SACI, where a MICA faculty member is in residence at the institution every semester.