Studying overseas can be daunting, but it also offers a number of fantastic opportunities. It gives students the chance to experience life in another country, improve their language skills, make new friends, gain independence and venture out of their comfort zone — plus it looks great on a résumé. If studying overseas is something your child is interested in, we list some of the study abroad opportunities available to secondary students.
Many Australian schools have partnerships with a sister school overseas — in countries such as Japan, Italy, France, China and Indonesia. The schools may organise visits on a biannual basis, with each school taking turns in visiting each other. Students may also have the opportunity to swap places with a student at the sister school for a longer exchange program.
If your child attends a school that doesn’t have a sister school, or if they’re looking to study in a different location, there are a number of independent exchange companies that can organise study abroad opportunities for Australian students. Organisations such as World Education Program Australia, Rotary Youth Exchange, AFS Australia and Student Exchange Australia and New Zealand can organise both long-term and short-term exchanges in a wide range of countries around the world, both English-speaking and non-English-speaking. Exchanges range in length from short tours, which allow students to spend two to three months overseas without interrupting their schooling back home, to year-long exchanges. During the exchange, students stay with a host family and attend school.
For students who are looking to travel overseas, but are hesitant to commit to a lengthy study exchange, a study tour can be a great opportunity to experience life in another country. Study tours are organised by the school and usually last a couple of weeks. They are often related to a specific subject — art students may visit the museums and churches of Europe, while language students may visit a native-speaking country. Many schools also offer sporting tours, where sporting teams travel overseas to play international schools, as well as community service or outreach trips, where students spend time helping out in a disadvantaged community, teaching lessons at the school or helping to build and restore facilities.
Although not technically a study abroad opportunity, another way to increase your child’s international awareness is to act as a host family for overseas students. Your child will still get the opportunity to experience another culture, practise their language skills and make new friends — without the huge commitment and high cost of an overseas exchange.