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Writing A Study Abroad Essay

Home > Students > How to Write an Outstanding Study Abroad Application Essay

For some students who wish to study abroad, the statement of purpose can be one of the most daunting components of the program application. The good news: it’s not as difficult as it may seem at first! After all, you’ve come this far in the study abroad research process, so chances are you’ve already given thought to what the essay requires you to write about. As long as you don’t rush and take the time to create a solid outline, your study abroad application statement of purpose will truly shine.

Common statement of purpose requirements

Although each program application may have program-specific essay requirements to address, most will ask students to address the following two components:

  1. Goals for studying abroad (i.e. academic, career, and personal) – Most likely, you will have to briefly describe your goals, outlining specific ways in which studying abroad will help you achieve these goals.
  2. Reason you chose this program/location – This aspect of the statement of purpose is more specific to why, out of all the programs and locations on Earth to study, you’re applying to this one.

Creating an outline

Before rushing into writing out your statement of purpose, make sure you’ve carefully read the instructions and prompts for the essay. The worst way to sabotage an otherwise excellent essay is to miss a key requirement outlined in the instructions. To help keep essay requirements fresh in your mind, consider copying and pasting the requirements at the top of essay document so that they are there for quick reference.

After you fully understand what points you are required to touch on in your statement of purpose, drafting an outline will help keep your essay organized, clear, and succinct. Consider following the steps below to help make this process easy and straight-forward.

Open up a blank Word document, and get down the general essay components:

Introduction

Paragraph 1

Paragraph 2

Paragraph 3

Conclusion

Now that you have the foundation laid out, you can complete your outline by creating a couple compelling sentences for each paragraph. Having these sentences drafted will help you quickly move forward after your outline is complete. Let’s take a look at each paragraph, and sample sentences for each.

Introduction – Create a strong thesis sentence that sums up your overall purpose for studying abroad.

  • Example: Studying abroad at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid will be a monumental step in realizing my personal, academic, and career goals to my highest potential.

This thesis sentence portrays to the reader that you have identified personal, academic, and career goals in relation to studying abroad in a specific program, and will describe them below.

Paragraphs 1-3 – Draft a sentence that sums up your response to the each point, then a second sentence that provides a specific outcome that this study abroad program will provide.

Paragraph 1 (e.g. personal reason/goal for studying abroad in this program):

  • Example: My grandfather migrated to the United States from Madrid, and since an early age I’ve wanted to see and experience the city and culture he grew up in. By the end of my study abroad program, I plan to have developed a deeper understanding and appreciation for my family heritage by becoming more fluent in Spanish and familiar with Spanish customs and cultural practices.

Paragraph 2 (e.g. academic reason/goal for studying abroad in this program):

  • Example: As a history major, I plan to utilize my time in Spain to contribute to my overall academic success and focus within the history program at my home university. Throughout my time studying abroad, I will visit historical sites around Spain relevant to my intended topic for my graduate thesis topic: Moorish architectural and cultural influences in modern Spanish society.

Paragraph 3 (e.g. career reason/goal for studying abroad in this program):

  • Example: I plan to one day teach Spanish history and culture at the college level, and this program will give me the first-hand experience I believe necessary to be qualified and successful in this position. By being completely immersed in the Spanish culture, and by having access to a large number of relevant historical sites and resources, I will enter this study abroad experience with my career development in mind.

For the conclusion, come up with a strong sentence to sum-up (again) why this program and location is the best choice.

  • Example: After extensive research of all possible programs, I am convinced that studying history and Spanish culture at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid is an ideal match for my personal, academic, and career goals outlined above.

Drafting suggestions

Now that you have a strong outline, filling in the rest should come easily and naturally. As would be normally expected in college-level essays, it’s important to make sure that each sentence you write relates directly to the main sentences in its respective paragraph you came up with in the outline.

After you’ve written your completed first draft of your study abroad application statement of purpose, save the document and take a break for a week. After you’ve had some time to clear your mind, you’ll likely come back to edit your essay with a fresh perspective and as a result more easily catch mistakes you may not have otherwise caught!

Finally, before you send it off, double (and triple) check to make sure that you haven’t overlooked any requirements for the statement of purpose. Also, consider having at least one other person look at your essay – your campus’s writing center is a great resource you might consider utilizing!

Congratulate yourself

After you’ve sent in your essay, congratulate yourself! You are well on your way to one of the most exciting journeys of your life, and you certainly deserve to be proud of this accomplishment.

10 Benefits to Studying Abroad


Studying abroad may be one of the most beneficial experiences for a college student. By studying abroad, students have the opportunity to study in a foreign nation and take in the allure and culture of a new land. Here is a list of the top 10 reasons to study abroad!

1. See the World

The biggest reason you should consider a study abroad program is the opportunity to see the world . By studying abroad, you will experience a brand-new country with incredible new outlooks, customs and activities. The benefits of studying abroad include the opportunity to see new terrains, natural wonders, museums and landmarks of your host nation.

In addition, when you’re abroad, you won’t be limited to traveling in just the nation in which you are studying – you can see neighboring countries as well! For example, if you study in France, you’ll have the option to travel through various parts of Europe including London , Barcelona , and Rome.

2. Education

Another reason you might consider studying abroad is for the chance to experience different styles of education. By enrolling in a study abroad program, you’ll have the chance to see a side of your major that you may not have been exposed to at home.

You’ll find that completely immersing yourself in the education system of your host country is a great way to really experience and understand the people, its traditions, and its culture. Education is the centerpiece of any study abroad trip—it is, after all, a study abroad program—and choosing the right school is a very important factor.


3. Take in a New Culture

Many students who choose to study abroad are leaving their home for the first time. When they arrive in their new host country, they are fascinated by the distinct cultural perspectives. When you study abroad you will find incredible new foods, customs, traditions, and social atmospheres.

You will find that you have a better understanding and appreciation for the nation’s people and history. You will have the opportunity to witness a completely new way of life.


4. Hone Your Language Skills

Chances are if you’re planning on studying abroad, one of the major draws is the opportunity to study a foreign language. Studying abroad grants you the opportunity to completely immerse yourself in a new language, and there is no better way to learn than to dive right in.

In addition to the considerable language practice you will get just in day to day life, your host university will likely offer language courses to provide you with a more formal education. Immerse yourself in a new culture and go beyond a purely academic experience


5. Career Opportunities

When you finish your study abroad program and return home, you will return with a new perspective on culture, language skills, a great education, and a willingness to learn. Needless to say, all of these are very attractive to future employers.

Many students find that they love their host country so much that they decide to seek work there. If you can relate, you will find that a local education will be very valuable when searching for a potential job in that country.

6. Find New Interests

If you are still questioning why to study abroad, you should know that studying in a different country offers many new activities and interests that you may never have discovered if you’d stayed at home. You might find that you have an as-yet undiscovered talent for hiking, water sports, snow skiing, golf, or various other new sports you may never have tried back home.

You’ll also have the chance to discover other new and exciting forms of entertainment. Plays, movies, dancing, nightclubs, and concerts are just a few activities that you can enjoy.


7. Make Lifelong Friends

One of the biggest benefits of studying abroad is the opportunity to meet new lifelong friends from different backgrounds. While studying abroad, you will attend school and live with students from your host country. This gives you the opportunity to really get to know and create lasting relationships with your fellow students.

After the study abroad program ends, make an effort stay in contact with your international friends. In addition to rewarding personal relationships, these friends can also be important networking tools later down the road.


8. Personal Development

There is nothing quite like being on your own in a foreign country. You might find that studying abroad really brings out your independent nature. Students who study abroad become explorers of their new nation and really discover the curiosity and excitement that they harbor.

A benefit to studying abroad is the opportunity to discover yourself while gaining an understanding of a different culture. Being in a new place by yourself can be overwhelming at times, and it tests your ability to adapt to diverse situations while being able to problem solve.


9. Graduate School Admissions

Like future employers, graduate school admissions boards look very highly on study abroad experiences. Students that study abroad display diversity and show that they aren’t afraid to seek out new challenges or put themselves in difficult situations.

Most importantly, students who have studied abroad show just how committed they are to their education. Graduate schools regularly look for candidates who will bring a unique aspect to their university. Students who have studied abroad have shown that they have the curiosity and educational acumen to be a leader in graduate school.


10. Life Experience

Why study abroad? For most students, this time may be the only opportunity they ever get to travel abroad for a long period of time. Eventually you will find a job and career, and the opportunity to study abroad may turn out to be a once in a life time opportunity.

Take this opportunity to travel the world with no commitments but to study and learn about new cultures. Studying abroad is an experience unlike any other.

Study Abroad Guide

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