First Steps

A semester or year abroad is a significant portion of your undergraduate education.  Treating it as part of a continuum rather than a separate experience will help you integrate it into your academic program here, choose an appropriate program or university, make the most of the opportunities available abroad, and build on your experience when you return to Mount Holyoke.    

Start by thinking about your goals for study abroad. Do you want to improve your foreign language proficiency, or learn a new language? Deepen your knowledge of your major or minor field? Take specialized courses in your major that are not offered here or that focus on a particular location or issue? Engage in independent study or other community-based learning? The more clearly you can articulate your goals, the easier it will be to find a program.

  • Consider what type of program is best for you.   Field studies programs combine theme-based coursework with practical experience (see the list of programs that offer independent study, community-based learning, and internships embedded in courses). Traditional study abroad programs feature special courses for international students, sometimes in combination with local university courses.  Direct-enrollment programs allow you to take all of your courses alongside your peers from the host country.
  • Explore possibilities. Check out the list of more than 150 approved programs on our website. Come to info sessions and other events offered by the McCulloch Center.  Visit the McCulloch Center Lounge (104  Dwight Hall) for program brochures.  
  • Tap the wisdom of others. Talk with your major advisor about how to integrate study abroad into your program here and how credit may count toward your major. Ask language or area studies faculty for advice about programs in the regions they know well. Talk with other students who have studied abroad and read their on-line evaluations (evaluations prior to fall 2012 are on file in the McCulloch Center Lounge).
  • Consider your personal needs.  If you have a medical condition or disability and typically receive ADA accommodations at Mount Holyoke, talk with AccessAbility Services, your health care providers, and with the McCulloch Center before you apply about what support you will need abroad.  Accommodations, academic support services, and access to counseling and medical treatment vary greatly from country to country.  We would be happy to discuss options and identify resources for you.  
  • Make an appointment to meet with one of the advisors in the McCulloch Center (stop by the McCulloch Center in Dwight 108, or call 413-538-2072).  Joanne Picard, Dean of International Studies, advises students interested in Latin America, Europe, and Oceania.  Donna Van Handle, Dean of International Students, advises students who are interested in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.  You do not need to know exactly where you want to study before setting up an appointment, but you should have reviewed our website and/or attended an info session so that we can focus on your particular interests and questions. Note that appointments in September are reserved for students applying to study abroad in the spring, as they will have early deadlines. Students interested in studying abroad in the fall or beyond may call after October 1 to make appointments.