Studying abroad can be an amazing experience. If you don’t want to continue your studies in Singapore and you are looking at tertiary education options, abroad is definitely a good choice.
Of course, if you choose to study abroad, you need to keep in mind that it will require substantial finances.
Luckily, there are also options for students who are strapped for money. Many local universities like the National University of Singapore offer study abroad summer programs or exchange programs, whereas some of the best online schools offer virtual study abroad courses.
Today, thanks to innovative education programs and remote learning tools, studying abroad can take place from any location in the world.
What Is Virtual Study Abroad?
Many schools now offer a virtual study abroad option that recreates many aspects of the traditional, in-person experience, including immersing yourself in a foreign language, making connections with people around the world, and learning about a new culture.
So, even if you won’t be able to explore a new country, you will still be able to gain a valuable cultural experience, often at a very affordable price.
So, how does it work? Virtual study abroad programs connect students from Singapore with international opportunities and infuse the education process with cultural experiences.
Similar to traditional programs, the courses are taught by tutors who have years of expertise in the field and are often in the location the student is learning about.
Many virtual study abroad courses are hybrid – some programs are designed to take place online and include a single trip towards the end of the course, while others will be completely virtual and include a remote internship. In addition, some programs are conducted in English, while others are conducted (fully or partially) in another language.
In short, there are plenty of options when it comes to studying abroad and you will be able to find a course that works best for you.
What Are the Advantages of Virtual Study Abroad?
Although virtual studies abroad might not be what you originally had in mind, this type of education has many advantages. Here are some of the most important ones:
Accessibility. Studying abroad isn’t accessible to everybody. Your home institution might not support study abroad or you might need a visa in order to be able to travel to certain countries. In other cases, the whole experience might simply be too expensive.
Virtual study abroad breaks down these barriers, allowing you to connect with new people, learn about the new country, and immerse yourself in the new culture.
Flexibility. For people who have to balance work with learning, or simply have a tight academic schedule, virtual study abroad offers great flexibility. It allows them to maintain their schedule while at the same time providing an opportunity for them to experience new customs, activities, and outlooks.
Affordability. Studying abroad costs a lot, whereas its virtual counterpart is an ideal more affordable option. In fact, some courses for the summer of 2020 cost less than $1k! Not to mention, you don’t have to worry about other expenses like airfare, accommodation, and general costs of living in a foreign country.
Career benefits. One of the most valued career benefits of studying abroad that you will develop is the ability to communicate across multiple language barriers and improve certain skills such as project presentation. Studying abroad, especially in the larger, more academic western universities and schools in places like the US, UK, or Canada, will give you the opportunity to expand and diversify the group of people that you know and this can be very advantageous for your career.
Studying Abroad in a Physical Campus
The traditional study abroad experience is the complete opposite of remote learning, requiring students to travel and find a new living arrangement for the duration of their stay.
For this reason, study abroad is not suitable for every online student. For instance, students who have full-time or part-time jobs, as well as those with family responsibilities might not be able to travel during their education. Traveling across the globe doesn’t exactly match the definitions of flexibility and convenience.
Still, many online students want to experience new cultures and places while getting their education. The good news is, online study abroad opportunities are possible for them if they plan ahead.
What You Need to Take Into Consideration
According to reports, online students who want to study abroad face two main obstacles: fitting international travel into their learning schedules and affording study abroad experiences.
Luckily, both these obstacles can be overcome with some planning.
Integrating a study abroad experience into your learning schedule can be tricky, so you should make sure to discuss the opportunity early on with your advisor. See if you will have to make any changes or adjustments to your course schedule in order to be able to squeeze in a study abroad experience.
Study abroad experiences can be quite expensive. The actual cost of studying abroad can vary depending on the course you select and the cost of living in the chosen country. For instance, London is a very popular destination but it is also one of the most expensive cities in the world. A course in the capital of the UK will probably cost much more than one in Costa Rica or Argentina.
Fortunately, there are scholarships and grants that can help students afford such experiences. To apply for financial aid, you’ll need to find opportunities for which you’re eligible, submit your application, and write an essay. Online students can also research other kinds of study abroad opportunities such as exchange programs.
Which Option is Better for You?
The answer to this question will depend on what kind of person you are and what your goal is. If your objective is to improve your language skills, learn about a new culture, or make friends from around the globe, a virtual study abroad might be the perfect option for you. However, if your goal is to walk the streets of a new city and take some Insta-worthy photos while getting your education, virtual study abroad probably won’t work for you.
One thing is for sure: virtual study abroad can not replace boots-on-the-ground experience, but it does provide a great alternative for online students who might have thought that study abroad was out of their reach.
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