As you will hear many times, St. Olaf is a leader of study abroad programs in the US and is proud of its high number of students studying abroad. As an international student, you are obviously already studying abroad, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get to explore St. Olaf’s many study abroad options! There are several different types of programs available for degree seeking students across all types of academic fields and located all around the world. Take a look at this website, and search your way around to see all interim- and semester-long available programs.
If you already have an idea about your major, and if your intended major has a more rigid format (e.g. set, specific classes for each semester), it’s a good idea to start thinking about study abroad early on, so that you can plan for it. Consider talking about studying abroad with your academic advisor early in the year to find out whether your academic load will allow you to do so or to see when it would fit your schedule the best.
If you are still undecided about your major, that is perfectly fine! The program you choose does not have to be directly related to a major. You can choose to do a year- or semester-long program, and/or an Interim program. The most important thing is that you ask yourself, “what do I want to get out of this experience? Do I want to stay in the US or go further away? Do I want to learn a new language/improve my language skills or do everything in English? Do I want to move around the country/region a lot and travel to new places or do I want to settle down in a place and immerse in the local culture? There is no good or bad type of program, it all depends on your personal preferences!
In your search for potential study abroad opportunities, make sure to talk to people! Find students who went on the program last year, talk to the program advisor and IOS (International and Off-Campus Studies) staff. Perhaps you are even able to talk to students from the country of origin you wish to visit to hear more about the place.
One of the things you might be worried about is money, and that is a legitimate concern! If you already receive a scholarship or financial aid at the college, you can apply for a study abroad scholarship through the financial aid office. If you receive this scholarship, the money can most likely cover most of your study abroad experience (unless it is not a St. Olaf program). In the end, how much you need to pay really depends on each program. For some, your scholarship might cover everything, for others, you may have to make some additional out-of-pocket expenses. Luckily, the school provides loans that IOS staff can explain to you if the time comes. If studying abroad interests you, I highly encourage you to attend the study abroad fairs held during the school year and hear the suggestions other students who have already studied abroad have to share.