When students study abroad, it’s an opportunity for them to experience a new place or culture. For international students, though, the process — and experience — differs.
International students “have to ensure they remain in compliance with the regulations associated with their U.S. student visa,” Senior Associate Dean of the College for Study Abroad Malik Blue wrote in an email to The Herald.
Overall, “the process and requirements for applying for a student visa vary based on the country of the passport the student will use to travel for study abroad,” he added.
Falak Pabari ’26, who is from Gujarat, India, needed to obtain a residence permit to study in Budapest, Hungary next semester. After her acceptance to Aquincum Institute of Technology-Budapest, Pabari was given instructions by AIT to book “an appointment at the NYC consulate for Hungary,” she wrote in an email to The Herald, describing a short process to collect necessary documents, travel to New York and return.
Hiyo Kobari ’26 had a different experience studying abroad. An international student from Tokyo, Japan, she was able to stay in Dublin for 90 days without a visa. She participated in the Brown Semester Internship Program, which allows students to concurrently participate in an internship while attending remote classes at Brown.
Blue said that study abroad advisors worked alongside international student-facing offices at Brown to create a webpage to “help address common concerns and considerations for international students as they plan for study abroad.”
While some may say that international students are already studying abroad by attending Brown, Blue noted that he “encourages them to consider locations that are different from their home culture as well as the culture they encounter while they study in the U.S.”
“A lot of people just go like, ‘Why do you want to (go abroad), because this is already abroad for you,’” Pabari said. “Europe’s a completely different experience. … Brown is getting a little bit exhausting for me, and (I) might need a semester away from Brown.”
Siji Soetan ’25, an international student from Nigeria currently studying at King’s College London, has known that he wanted to study abroad since his first year at Brown. He chose to do so in London because of the many “family members and family friends that live there,” he said. “I knew it’d be easier to integrate, instead of having to feel uncomfortable or in an unfamiliar place.”
“In the U.S., I probably have relatives that can make sure that I’m okay, but if I go to a completely different country, nobody (will be) there,” Pabari said, adding that due to this reason, she has considered the safety of prospective locations.
Personal relationships, academic interest and safety are all factors students take into consideration before going abroad, they said.
Both Pabari and Kobari cited their academic interests as reasons for studying in their respective locations.
“The Dublin program was more flexible in terms of the options for what kinds of internships we can do,” Kobari said. “It’s really coordinated based on your interests and preferences.”
Kobari mentioned that worries about going abroad “too early” or “too late” shouldn’t hinder decisions to study abroad. Soetan recommended that students “start planning early for logistical things,” such as “bank accounts and transportation,” and “maintain relationships with people on campus and with people that you came here with.”
Kobari and Soetan both said they have had positive experiences abroad.
“Living in Dublin for three months helped me grow as a person and gain more experiences in terms of career,” Kobari said. “I think this experience was one of the best memories I’ve had in my life — I really liked the country.”
Soetan traveled to “Amsterdam, Paris, Turin and Barcelona all within two weeks,” saying it was a “bit overwhelming” but “worthwhile.”
“Studying abroad as an international student affords students the opportunity to add yet another cultural perspective to their education,” Blue wrote. Enriching “not only their own educational journey but that of their peers on campus and connections back in their home country.”
Kelvin Jiang is a section editor for University News and Science & Research at The Herald. Born in Illinois and raised in Palo Alto, CA, Kelvin is concentrating in math-computer science and applied math. He enjoys anything tech-related, being outdoors, and spending time with his cat.