What is Important to You?

Use the following sample questions from University of Minnesota's Learning Abroad Center  to discover what is important to you in your off-campus study experience. Thinking about your future is important, as it will help you choose a program that matches your interests and goals. After deciding which of these questions are important to you, try to summarize your findings in a few sentences and bring this information with you to an off-campus study advising appointment.


  • Academic

    • How will the experience be integrated into your major or field of study? Do you want to earn credits towards your major or minor while abroad?
    • Do you have another interest or a complementary subject area that you want to focus on?
    • Do you have an independent study project or second language requirement you could work on abroad?
    • Do you want to study one topic intensively or take a variety of courses?
    • Do you need to take courses in English, or can you take courses in the host language?

  • Learning Environment

    •  Do you learn better in the classroom or in the field?
    • Do you like independent or guided learning?
    • Are you able to adapt to different styles of learning?
    • Who do you envision your classmates to be? (F&M students, U.S. students, other international students, local students from the host country)

  • Career Path

    • How do you want your experience abroad to impact your career and professional development? 
    • What skills do you want to develop while abroad that are important in your intended field? (e.g. adaptability and flexibility, self-confidence, cross-cultural sensitivity, political awareness, interpersonal communication skills, language competency, problem-solving skills, dependability, analytic ability, etc.)
    • What activities abroad will help your graduate school applications or make your resume stand out? (e.g. professional networking, campus or community programs, leadership roles, volunteering, internship, research)

  • Geographic Interests

    • Are you interested in a region of the world or a specific country?
    • Is there something happening in the world today that you want to learn more about?
    • Is there a political system that intrigues you?

  • Personal Identity

    • Do you want to explore family roots?
    • Do you want to live in your home country?
    • Are there historical or current factors in places around the world that may impact your experience there?

  • Other

    • Do you want to study abroad more than once?
    • How immersed in the culture do you want to be?

Identify Challenges & Priorities


To really hone in on your statement also think about what, if anything, might prevent you from studying abroad. Use the same sort of brainstorming technique to record the challenges. Consider how these factors affect studying abroad. The aim of this is to list the real challenges along with your goals. Identify the factors you'll have to consider:

  • Family
  • Money
  • Job obligations
  • Social, academic, or athletic commitments



Once you have your ideas written down, you can start setting priorities. Try ranking your responses in order of importance. You may place the number (1) beside a geographic location that is extremely important to you, and then the number (2) next to money if affordability is a major factor. Remember, you aren't making final life decisions here, just setting down on paper where your priorities lie. Be honest with yourself.