Summer or Semester: When’s the Best Time to Intern Abroad?

Summer or Semester: When’s the Best Time to Intern Abroad?

When's the Best Time to Intern Abroad?

Do You Have Schedule Restraints?

If you’re involved in a club or sport that requires a yearlong commitment, you may find summer to be your only option. Summer is also often the most rational choice for students who have demanding majors or can’t afford to miss a semester’s worth of credits.

That being said, there’s also always the option to study and intern abroad at the same time. This way you get to spend more time overseas, earn the credits you need, AND gain practical experience.

And of course, interning overseas isn’t an experience relegated only to students. Many young people end up in internships after they graduate, so why not do that internship abroad?

Post-college or even in your mid-to-late twenties are great times to intern abroad, as you have more knowledge and more time to devote to experience — go for that 3-4 month “semester” long internship (or even longer!). You may even have an easier time finding a paid internship once you have a college degree under your belt, or using that internship to get an entry level job abroad.

How Much Time Can You Spare?

Speaking of spending more time overseas — that is just what most students wish they had had when they go overseas, especially those on summer or short-term programs. After four or six weeks, you’re just getting used to things and coming to understand the people, customs, and culture of your host country… And then it’s time to leave!

If you’re able to spare the time of a full semester, this is definitely something to consider. If summer is your only option for interning abroad, opt for a longer internship (say, 8-12 weeks versus 4-6 weeks) to get the most out of your experience.

What Are Your Goals?

Are you mostly seeking out something that will look good on your resume? Or are you just looking to dip your toe in a foreign work environment, or brush up a little bit on your language skills in a professional context? A brief summer internship may be sufficient for you.

Summer internship abroad

England | Photo Credit: Anna Morris

If you’re serious about building and improving your professional and language skills, or if you’re hoping to use your internship as a stepping stone to a job abroad, a semester or longer summer internship should be in your sights.

Longer internships give you the opportunity to thrive in your internship — getting the hang of your required tasks, building skills, and forming solid relationships with your colleagues — while also allowing you to have more time to immerse yourself in the local culture and perhaps do some traveling.

Tip: You may even find a local internship with a global company that has a brief international component in the summer, such as Deloitte’s Global Internship Program or KPGM’s Global Internship Program.

Where Are You Going?

If you have a specific destination in mind for our internship, then that could be a huge consideration in deciding when to intern abroad. First, look at weather. Remember that if you’re looking at somewhere in the southern hemisphere (say, Argentina or Australia), it’ll be winter there if you go during your summer.

Another consideration is national holidays and vacation times. For example, some cities and countries in Europe practically empty out for a month or so in the summer (usually August) when everyone takes off for the holidays. This could leave you feeling pretty lonely and useless in an internship (or, on the flip side, with a lot of work to do in your internship!) Basically, be conscious of your timing.

What’s Your Budget?

Often times the net difference in cost between summer and semester-long internships abroad are negligible, but it can be a factor. In general, your biggest expenses are the same either way: return flights and basic program fees.

In fact, sometimes summer programs can be more expensive at first glance because they typically include things like accommodation, which is not necessarily the case as often for semester programs, where students are left to find housing independently.

That being said, you can often find accommodation on your own for cheaper, but that’s often easier to do when you are going to be in country for a longer amount of time. And of course, the longer you stay, the more months you have to pay rent.

Then again, if you are going to a less expensive country, you may actually be saving money by staying abroad longer — spending less money on things like food, rent, and transportation.

Overall, if money is your biggest concern, it doesn’t necessarily have to affect how long you intern abroad. There are ways to cut back on costs and budget well for your internship abroad regardless of the length of internship you choose.

What Are Your Limits?

Even more importantly: Are you willing to push past them? Interning abroad is a challenging experience, plain and simple. If this is your first time abroad, and you’re feeling very nervous about it, you may want to opt for a shorter summer internship. It’s important to know yourself and what you can handle.

Semester long internships abroad

New Zealand | Photo Credit: Kelsey Mirehouse

However, going overseas is one of the best ways to realize that your limits aren’t actually your limits. There are going to be tough times, but the worst thing would be to experience the peak of your culture shock right at the end of your overseas experience and then leave believing you don’t like or can’t handle spending time abroad.

From personal experience, and from working with a lot of students going overseas for the first time as interns, that rough patch does not last forever. And the best part is when you get past it and learn to love your experience — and the things it has taught you about yourself.

Of course, that can’t happen if you don’t give yourself enough time. Keep in mind all of the new things you will be experiencing — working in a new environment with new people while living in a new place with a different culture, different people… It may even be your first time living in a city (or somewhere rural), which could be a shock to your system in itself. Make a list of these challenges you might face.

Do you feel prepared to handle these things? Do you want to tackle them and try? Go for a semester. Would you rather just test the waters and learn what it’s like to live abroad? Then go for a summer.

Make The Call

Take some time to really reflect, then choose your internship length based on your answers to these questions. After you’ve asked yourself the tough questions, make the call.

Chances are you felt yourself leaning one way or the other for most of this article, and it’s important to listen to your gut. Just making the decision to intern abroad at all is a great call, and you’ll surely have a memorable experience no matter which option you choose.


Studying Abroad: The Benefits

Studying Abroad: The Benefits main image

Higher education experts around the world share what they believe to be the main benefits of studying abroad including experience in a global hub, and developing language skills via immersion in an international experience, as well as key factors to consider when choosing a location for your studies.

1. Experience a new culture

ee Roach, group manager and European marketing for the Navitas Education Group, says nothing beats the immersive international experience you get while studying abroad. “The best way of finding out about another culture is by immersing yourself in it, and you can only do that by living in a country. Once you are working, your holiday or experiences overseas might be limited to only two to four weeks per year so studying abroad is a great opportunity to remain in a country and learn all about it over a longer period of time.”

Elizabeth Dalferes, assistant director of admissions and graduate program administration at Tulane Law School, adds that if you’ve stayed closer to home for your undergraduate degree, enrolling in a master’s program can be the perfect time to get this international experience. “Students will often pursue a master’s degree at a foreign institution to gain a unique cultural experience while acquiring new skills.”

2. Make friends from around the world

t’s likely that the university you choose for your international studies will have a large community of students both from the local area and all around the globe. If you take full advantage of this opportunity, you could graduate having established lasting friendships with people based in many different countries – great for future trips, and also a good basis for an international professional network. As Dalferes says, “Spending time studying abroad can provide an excellent opportunity to make new contacts and build invaluable relationships with peers from around the world.”

Being part of an internationally diverse academic community can also enhance the quality of your learning, providing a wider spectrum of opinions and expertise – a point made by Professor Kimberly Hutchings, program director of the MSc in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

3. Become truly independent

The experience of university is, for most new students, a steep learning curve in gaining independence. But studying abroad takes that a whole step further, challenging students to really develop as individuals. Dee Roach says, “You obviously have to cope on your own when you are studying abroad. You have to be able to look after yourself and sort out your own affairs.”

4. Change the way you think

Studying abroad may well change the way you view all kinds of things which you’d previously taken for granted. Sarah Han of the Department of International Cooperation at the Korean Council for University Education says, “Studying abroad provides an opportunity to expand one’s field of view and helps one to understand and analyze problems and phenomena from a longer-term, worldwide perspective.” She adds, “Moreover, long-term experience in other cultures has a tendency to help one think objectively about oneself and one’s home country, tolerate differences, and recognize and appreciate diversity.”

5. Get ready for an international workplace

Han continues to explain how this international experience prepares students for future careers: “Students are more open to new knowledge and expertise when abroad, and that knowledge is often more easily applicable and adaptable to situations requiring international interaction; thus one can expect to be more competitive in today’s era of globalization.”

Lauren Welch, head of advising for the US-UK Fulbright Commission in London agrees that studying abroad is likely to enhance your future job prospects. “Employers are looking to graduates to have international experience either by studying or working abroad. Now there are many more opportunities to study and work abroad, or stay on and work afterwards.”

Dee Roach adds, “Anyone who is able to put on their CV that they studied abroad is at a great advantage in terms of impressing future employers. At a very basic level it will give you something to talk about in an interview. But much more importantly it will prove to your potential employer that you have the ability to stand on your own two feet, that you can fit in when placed in different environments, and that you are resourceful and have initiative.”

6. Develop your language skills

For many international students, studying abroad is a chance to develop language skills, either through studying in a second language or by practicing the language spoken locally. A growing number of courses around the world are taught in English, particularly at graduate level, and of course proficiency in English has many applications across all kinds of careers. But indeed any additional language skills are an asset.

“Language skills obtained while studying abroad will always be beneficial to the student and their home country in both the short- and long-term,” says Sarah Han.

7. Study in a global hub for your field

As Lauren Welch points out, studying abroad is also a great opportunity to spend time in a location which is known as a leading global hub in your field of interest. This could mean you may have opportunities to learn from renowned experts and guest speakers, and perhaps gain some impressive work experience. For example, those studying finance may be attracted to global hubs such as New York, London or Hong Kong, while those interested in politics may be looking at universities in major political centers such as Washington DC or Brussels.

Dee Roach also notes that some countries are especially well-known as leaders in a particular field of research and development, or a particular strand of education. “Germany is synonymous with advances in engineering technology, the US with top business and management programs such as Harvard, MIT and Stanford (to name but a few), Australia screams art and design and sport, and Canada has its world-renowned ‘co-op programs’.”

8. Travel more widely

Finally, studying abroad is a chance to travel more widely around the world region in which you’re based. “Obviously you will not just be tied to the university or city you are studying in. You will also have the time and opportunity to travel within and around that country,” Roach says. “Country-hopping during holidays and weekends is also possible, depending on where you are based. This will normally be with the added benefit of cheaper travel, as you will be armed with your student (discount) card.”


Come see us at the Study Abroad Fair 2015

Are you ready to go Above and Abroad? Join us for our Annual Study Abroad Fair, Wednesday, September 8th 2015 from 10am to 3pm in the MLK Jr. Union University Ballroom! The Study Abroad Fair will include information about universities and colleges around the world! .You will also get a chance to participate in raffles, and speak with faculty members from the Office of Financial Aid and Health Services, to prepare you for your trip overseas.Remember, the Study Abroad Fair is the one of the first steps to making this a reality!




Big Ben

Eiffel Tower

Join Joseph Stambaugh as he Travels Through the Bahamas

Studying in the Bahamas with Joseph:  I started my Bahamas journey by leaving Charleston around 7 am to head to the Indianapolis Airport. Once getting to Indy airport, I met up with my group and met up with Dr. Carter. We all got our boarding passes and began our flight towards to Atlanta for a brief layover. We finally got to Fort Lauderdale that afternoon and took a bus back to our hotel for the night. It was there that I finally met Dr. Lizowski who would be in charge of my learning during the adventure. For dinner 5 others and I decided to take a hotel taxi to go get some crab legs at a authentic seafood restaurant. We found the Rustic Inn and split a bunch of crab legs and coconut shrimp. Actually the coconut was the best dish by far and we wish we would have just ordered that because it was hands down the best we had ever had. After getting back to the hotel, the two guys I would be rooming with (Matt and Tyler) decided to go with me to the hotel’s bar to get a drink before bed. I “manned up” (sarcasm) and got a strawberry daiquiri which was amazing. We ended our first day playing heads up with some girls on the trip before going  to bed. Sadly all of us struggled to fall asleep and did not get the best rest. This was mainly out of excitement for the next day to travel to the Bahamas.


We left our hotel and arrived at the airport at around 9 am during our second day. We had originally thought we were leaving at 9 for Andros but we did not leave until roughly 11:30 am. Everyone sat around and waited and I learned how to play yuker finally. Our plane was a 30 passenger plane and many people were nervous to fly on it, but I was just excited to fly in a smaller plane. On our flight over I was able to see the ocean and I even thought I saw some dolphins way down swimming and jumping out of the water.

Taking my first steps on Bahamian soil was fantastic mainly because of just how warm it was. We got through customs and took taxis (which were vans) to drive an hour to our new home: Forfar Station. Once everyone arrived from their taxis and we had lunch, we went out for our first snorkeling of the trip. We took one large boat out to Dave’s Reef to snorkel and I was determined to get tan, so I did not put on sunscreen.. which I would later find out to be a terrible idea. As for the snorkeling, I was very nervous. I am not the best swimmer and I had never snorkeled before so I was not sure what to expect. Turns out snorkeling is very cool and I loved it. I eventually even dove down in some places to grab sea shells and conchs. Once we got back to Forfar we had dinner and had a brief orientation of our expectations for the trip from Dr. Lizowski and the Forfar staff. After playing volleyball and unpacking, I sat out on the deck and watched the waves roll in and out that night with others in the group. Sleeping was very hard and uncomfortable due to the heat and my sunburn, but as the week would go on it would be easier for me to sleep.


We started our routine today that would end up being our routine throughout the week in terms of eating schedule. We would eat breakfast at 8 am, lunch around 12 or 1, and eat dinner at 6 pm. At 9 am we went out to another area to snorkel called Staniard Reef and Staniard Wreck. This was a rough time snorkeling due to the waves and wind being so strong. I swallowed a ton of salt water and it was not the most pleasant thing. I did however dive down to find a tulip mollusk and conch shell that I would later take home. We ate lunch at the 2 mile beach and by then I could really feel the sun’s power. The previous day I did not wear sunscreen and today I only wore a tiny bit. I also did not wear a shirt all day so that did not help my case. When we got back I lathered myself in aloe vera and played volleyball and ping pong with some people. I was extremely tired by the end of the day but I still went outside to the deck that night to feel the breeze and watch the ocean waves with others. Sadly sleep was still not easy that night and the sunburn was the main reason for that.

Overlooking Paradise Island

Today would be my first day teaching in the Bahamas and it would definitely be an interesting one. I would teach at Fresh Creek Primary School and the drive (which was rough like the other drives) was 45 minutes, so breakfast was quick. When I got to the school I was a little nervous but quickly settled in with my teaching. It was hard because I could not hear all that way from the previous night because I either had too much water in my ears or I slept on my ears weird. Either way it was hard to hear my students’ responses at times and it was a struggle. My first couple activities were alright and the students responded well enough; however, my best activities were my puzzle activity and my reader’s theater.

The students responded well to putting the puzzles together in silence and really worked hard to do so. They also enjoyed reading the plays in front of the class and acting them out in a way. I was in charge of ringing the school bell when it was time for lunch or break time. My teacher was very helpful at times when the students got a bit crazy and she was in the classroom and I really appreciated her being there after all. She enjoyed the gifts that my partner Brianna and I gave her too. After teaching we went back to the station to relax and some presented their topics for Dr. Lizowski. I forgot to mention this yesterday but I presented with Matt yesterday about sharks and we did a fabulous job presenting as we usually do when we present together.

If you want to read more blog posts by Joseph Click here to visit his blog!


We are Wishing You Well Post-Graduation Molly Button !

 We are Wishing You Well Post-Graduation Molly Button!

We want to give our warmest thanks to our former Graduate Assistant Molly Button! We want to thank you for all of your hard work  and outstanding contributions to the Office of Study Abroad! You have been so hardworking, fun, innovative, and most of all a great leader. We want to commend you for all of your determination and dedication to our office over the years. It has been a pleasure to work with you and we are so grateful to have had such a wonderful person in our office. Further, we want to also congratulate you on your new job working in the Study Abroad Office at  IIT in Chicago! Once again thank you Molly for all of the hard work you have done in our office and we wish you well!


The Office of Study Abroad

#ForeverEIU #EIUStudyAbroad 



Graduation Time!


Hey guys! It’s Mary, your professional writing intern, one last time.

It’s with bittersweet emotions that I say good-bye to my time in the Office of Study Abroad. I am really happy that I was able to sign up to be the professional writing intern here at the Office this semester. There was a lot going on, including completely revamping our study abroad website, that kept me busy and gave me a lot of experience that I can put toward future endeavors.


One of the best things about working at the Office this semester was meeting all of the people that work here. My co-workers freely gave out praise and encouragement that helped me to complete that tasks that I was assigned while working here. Everyone is friendly and happy to help with anything I could have needed. Being able to work in the Office itself, I was able to see that this sentiment was extended to all that entered looking for help on studying abroad.

Not only am I saying good-bye to the Office of Study Abroad, but I am also graduating this semester and saying good-bye to EIU. Like many of you, the excitement of finishing this step in my life is mixed with nervousness about what I am going to do next in my life. The rush to look for a “big people” job or a masters program, whatever you feel is the next step for you, can sometimes get exhausting, but I try to remember to take a break once in a while and remember how far I’ve come.

It is with a heavy heart but a happy smile that I sign off one last time from the Office of Study Abroad.

~Mary Reber


How-To: Talk To Your Parents About Study Abroad


Deciding to study abroad is a big, but exciting, step. The opportunities are endless for a student wanting to experience the challenge of studying in a different country, but one challenge to face before you begin is getting your parents approval and/or financial assistance. Follow these tips to prepare yourself and your case before bringing the idea of studying abroad to your parents.

Do Your Research

Before you bring it up to your parents, do your research. Make sure that you know what you want to do, and anticipate questions that your parents will have. Some parents frequently asked questions can be found here.

  1. Course Credit

Won’t this make you fall behind in your studies?

All semester programs offer courses that transfer into EIU credit. The number of semester hours offered depends on the program so do your research, and know what classes your program provides. On summer programs, you are earning course credit where you would not have been if you stayed home. Our summer programs offer a wide range of courses, so again, do your research and know what you want to take, and how it will count, before speaking to your parents. Go to our Couse Finder to see which courses you can take that transfer into EIU credit.

  1. Financial Aid

How are we going to pay for this? We don’t have the money for that.

The Study Abroad Office has many options for financial aid and scholarships. With both of these, you can lower your out-of-pocket cost significantly. Make sure to ask to an advisor in our office about scholarships that you are eligible for and due dates. Also check out the Financial Aid section of our webpage.

  1. Safety Precautions

How will I know you are going to be safe in a foreign country?

Everyone involved with the Study Abroad program is intent on your safety. It can be scary to think about something happening so far away, but measures are in place to make sure that you are being taken care of while you are studying abroad. Check out our page on Health and Safety.

  1. Staying in Touch

But I’ll miss you too much if you’re so far away!

Sending you to college was already a big step for your parents; the thought for you in another country is scary for them. There are many ways that you and your parents can stay in touch while you are abroad, whether that be for the summer or for a whole year. Check out our page on keeping in touch.



Timing is key when approaching your parents about studying abroad. Make sure that you bring it up in a moment of happiness and relaxation. If your parents just got off work, had to deal with traffic, and now has to deal with your whining sibling, that’s probably not the best time to bring up something like studying abroad. Make sure that you time the discussion so that you have time to have a discussion.

Be Assertive but Respectful

Make sure when you are speaking to your parents that your tone of voice never reaches anything that can be called disrespectful, but at the same time do not back down. Answer your parents’ concerns with facts, and make sure they know you are serious and that studying abroad is not just a passing whim. If you present yourself as a mature adult making an informed decision, they will be more likely to treat you like one. Sometimes your parents just want to feel like they are part of your decision. It might be a good idea to have multiple options so that your parents can help you narrow it down. If there are still issues, do not be afraid to compromise. Studying abroad may not be possible this year/semester. Have a plan B program and make sure to bring up studying abroad next year/semester.


For information from previous Study Abroad students, come to our panel discussion on April 21st in the Casey Room in the Union!

Holi: Festival Of Colors!


During the afternoon on Friday the 24th of April, 2015, the Office of Study Abroad will be hosting the third annual HOLI: FESTIVAL OF COLORS from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Library Quad of Eastern Illinois University. Admission is FREE, so come out and celebrate the spring season with us in an explosion of color and friendship.

The celebration originated as a Hindu religious holiday, mainly in India and Nepal, as a day to rid oneself of past errors, end conflicts, forgive and forget. It also marked the beginning of spring, and the tradition of spreading colors everywhere is a way to celebrate and encourage the coming growth of spring’s flowers and plants. The festival has since spread throughout other Asian countries and on to countries like the United States. Here at Eastern, the Festival of Colors gives students an opportunity to get together with their friends and work off the stress of upcoming exams and the end of the semester.

People of all ages and professions are encouraged to come and make a mess. As per tradition, colorful powder will be distributed to be spread on friends, family, and strangers. Participants will be sure to leave covered in all sorts of color with a smile on their face. Returning participants will remember the festival well and are sure to encourage new people to remember to wear white T-shirts or at least something they do not mind getting messy.


It’s sure to be a fun and messy time. Save the date, and I’ll see you there!

[Guest Post]: We Made It

EIU student Samantha DeYoung is currently studying at University of South Wales for the spring semester. Follow her experience with her blog here.

January 3rd, 2015

After a very long two days of traveling, I am finally here! Sitting in my room watching netflix, it is raining, something I will get used to very fast here in Wales. Yesterday was definitely the longest day of my life, literally I was awake and traveling from 3pm Thursday when I left Pittsburgh until 3pm Friday when I finally arrived at the University. With two time changes, two fights, a bus, and a train, we finally made it. Our rooms are nice and have private bathrooms attached to them, our flat consists of 6 rooms that remind me of American dorms, all connected by a hallway that leads to our kitchen.

Yesterday at the airport, I was constantly looking for all of those gypsies I had been constantly warned about, and of course I didn’t see any at all! The airport atmosphere was very safe. Customs gave us all a very hard time since our course of study is only until April, but our documents say it is until June. We were met at the airport by a lady that showed us how to catch a coach to Cardiff. After arriving in Cardiff, we walked from the bus stop to the train station. From what little I saw of Cardiff, I think it will be very fun to visit and wander around down there. Everywhere we go people can’t understand us and they use words we don’t understand either. After several jokes made at our expense, the people here are beyond friendly and helpful. I have never had so many people offer to carry my bags and offer to show us where to go. People here go out of their way to help you, something very foreign to Americans!


(Cardiff Train Station)


(Castle on our way to the Treforest stop)

After climbing a mountain to get to the accommodations office, we were shown our rooms and could finally relax. Kait and I went into the Treforest village to buy shampoo, conditioner, water, bread, and soap for our rooms. The village is very cute and we passed a lot of small shops and restaurants. After stopping to get Chinese “Take Away” we walked over the bridge that crosses the railway and hiked back up to our rooms.


(Our pretty campus)


(The view from our Flat)

Everything has been very exciting so far, tomorrow we plan to go back to Cardiff to visit and to explore. We choose our classes on Monday and hopefully can start planning for all of our trips after that!