Grad School Travel: Yes Or No?

can I travel while in grad school abroad

Studying for a graduate degree abroad is a big decision, but it can be an exciting and rewarding experience. While you may face challenges such as language barriers, higher costs of living, and homesickness, there are also many benefits to pursuing your graduate studies in a foreign country. You can take advantage of lower tuition fees, gain international exposure and networking opportunities, improve your language skills, and experience personal growth by immersing yourself in a new culture.

When it comes to travelling while in grad school abroad, it is definitely possible, but careful planning is necessary. Summer vacations are ideal for travelling as things tend to be slower, giving you some flexibility. It is important to notify your adviser, plan your trip in advance, and ensure you have completed your research work. Travelling on a budget is a common reality for grad students, and choosing budget-friendly accommodations like hostels can help make your trip more affordable. Additionally, travelling with a buddy can make the experience less daunting. Grad school is demanding, but taking time off to travel can be beneficial for your well-being, providing a break from academia and an opportunity to explore new places and cultures.

Characteristics Values
Can I study abroad in grad school? Yes, you can study abroad for a short period of time or earn a full degree.
Language barrier Many European grad schools have turned to English as their main language of instruction.
Quality of teaching The standard of teaching is not necessarily poorer in other countries.
Exploring the world Studying abroad is a great way to explore the world and have a wider range of experiences than if you were merely visiting.
Employers' perception of degrees from abroad Employers are much more used to seeing candidates apply for positions having studied abroad.
Maintaining relationships It is easier to have a successful long-distance relationship now.
Cost of living The cost of living in your host city could set you back.
Personal growth Studying abroad amplifies personal growth.
Homesickness Homesickness can strike at any time and can be difficult.
Foreign degree acceptance Overseas degrees in certain fields require lengthy verification in the US.


Travel on a budget

Travelling while in graduate school abroad is possible, and there are ways to do it on a budget. Here are some tips to help you travel the world while pursuing your graduate degree overseas:

Choose a Low-Cost Destination

Select a country with a lower cost of living than your home country. Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia are known for having budget-friendly destinations. For example, you can find a single-room city-centre apartment in Budapest for around $442 per month or in Bangkok for about $561 per month. Additionally, consider the exchange rate between your home country's currency and the local currency of your potential destination.

Timing is Key

Travelling during the off-season is usually less expensive than peak seasons like summer. If you're enrolled in a graduate program, consider taking advantage of school breaks, such as Spring break and Winter break, to plan your vacations. You can also opt for extended weekend trips or day trips to nearby locations without incurring high costs.

Work and Internships

If your student visa allows, you may be able to work part-time while studying abroad. This can help fund your travels and excursions. Alternatively, consider a paid internship. For example, in France, it's common for students to dedicate a whole semester to an internship, allowing them to earn money while gaining experience.

Scholarships and Grants

Many prospective study abroad students are eligible for financial aid, scholarships, and grants that can help ease the financial burden. Consult with your financial aid counsellor or the study abroad program advisor to explore these options. Don't forget to also check out stipends offered by your university, as these can help cover some of your expenses.

Homestays and Student Housing

Instead of staying in typical tourist accommodations, consider a homestay to immerse yourself in the local culture and save money. Homestays often provide home-cooked meals and a great opportunity to learn the local language. Alternatively, look for student housing or affiliate student apartments, which often offer price reductions for students.

Student Discounts and Local Connections

Don't forget to bring your student ID! Many countries and companies offer significant perks and discounts to students and youth under 27. For example, museums often offer free or discounted admission. Additionally, making friends with locals can provide you with insider recommendations on budget-friendly activities and experiences.

Walk or Use Public Transportation

Exploring a new city by foot is a great way to save money on transportation fares. You'll also discover unique shops and hidden gems that you might miss if you were just passing through. If walking isn't feasible, opt for public transportation, which often offers student discounts, rather than taxis or private transportation.

Research and Plan

Look for budget-friendly tours, hotels, and transportation options. Use price comparison websites and take advantage of free Wi-Fi to research prices and find hidden gems. Planning and researching can help you make informed decisions and save money.

Online Graduate Programs

If you're enrolled in an online graduate program, you have the flexibility to work and study from anywhere in the world, as long as you have internet connectivity. This option allows you to travel and explore while still submitting your projects and assignments on time.

Be Open to Different Destinations

By being flexible and open-minded about your travel destinations, you can take advantage of last-minute deals and discounts. Join groups or follow websites that share flight deals and travel packages to various destinations.

Travel Rewards and Credit Card Points

Consider signing up for a travel rewards credit card. Many of these cards offer sign-up bonuses and perks, such as no foreign transaction fees. You can earn points by using these cards for your regular expenses and then redeem them for free travel or other benefits.

Remember, travelling while in graduate school abroad requires discipline and planning. Prioritize your studies and make sure you can balance your academic commitments with your travels. With careful budgeting and a sense of adventure, you can explore the world without breaking the bank!


Plan your trip in advance

Planning is key when it comes to travelling while in grad school abroad. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your trip:

Start Planning Early

Even if you're not planning to study abroad until later in your academic career, it's beneficial to start looking at programs as early as possible. This will help you pick a program that enriches your college experience and ensures you graduate on time.

Choose the Right Program

Make sure you select a program that fits well with your major and doesn't jeopardize your ability to graduate on time. Consider whether the credits you earn abroad will transfer back to your home university, and check with the registrar to be sure.

Research Your Destination

Take the time to familiarize yourself with your host country. Understanding the culture, history, geography, economy, and government will help you avoid faux pas and improve your immersion.

Get Your Paperwork in Order

Ensure your passport is valid and won't expire within six months of your intended return. Also, make sure you have blank pages in your passport if you've travelled abroad before. Depending on your nationality and destination, you may need a student visa, so be sure to research the requirements and apply well in advance.

Secure Housing

Decide on your budget, whether you want to live alone or with others, and your preferred location. While you can do plenty of online research, it's also a good idea to speak to your study abroad advisor and alumni members for tips and resources.

Purchase Plane Tickets in Advance

Shop around for affordable plane tickets, but try to purchase them at least three months in advance. Consider using a student travel agency, as these often provide flexible and inexpensive tickets for students.

Visit Your Physician

If you've had health issues in the past, consider getting a physical before you leave and take a copy of your medical records with you in case of an emergency. Research the host country's immunization requirements and become immunized before your departure.

Sort Out Your Finances

Notify your bank about your plans to study abroad, set up an online bank account, and get an international debit card with low international fees. It's also recommended to bring around $100-$200 in the local currency for your first few days or in case of an emergency.

Learn the Local Language

Learning basic phrases will help you navigate daily life and show respect for the local culture. Try using apps such as Duolingo or Ling to improve your language skills before you go.

Pack Light

Remember that you'll likely be able to buy most things you need once you arrive. Bring travel-sized toiletries, plan to buy a cheap towel and sheets when you arrive, and stick to 3-4 pairs of shoes. Don't forget your power adapters!

Keep in Touch with Loved Ones

Research the cost of a cell phone plan in your host country, as it may be much cheaper than using an international plan with your existing carrier. Use apps such as Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, or Messenger to stay connected without racking up international charges.


Choose a location

Now that you've decided to take the leap and study abroad, it's time to choose a location that aligns with your interests and goals. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting your study abroad destination:

  • Language: Ask yourself if you're ready to learn or practice a new language. Many universities offer programs in English, but studying in a different language can be a valuable skill and a great addition to your resume. Consider whether you can handle full language immersion and if there will be opportunities to communicate in your first language if needed. Alternatively, you can choose a country that speaks a language you've studied before or one that you've always wanted to learn.
  • Culture shock: Living in a new culture can be a rewarding experience, but it's important to assess your comfort level with cultural differences. Research the cultural practices and etiquette of potential destinations and compare them with your own culture. Consider whether you can adapt to those differences during your time abroad.
  • Support system: Think about whether you'll have people close by in case of an emergency. While no one wants to think about crises, it's crucial to have a support system in place. Consider who you can reach out to for help and how easily they can get to you if needed.
  • Cost of living: Evaluate the cost of travel, housing, transportation, food, and other essential items. Create a reasonable budget that includes dining out, entertainment, souvenirs, and travel excursions. Choose a location that allows you to live comfortably without constant financial worries.
  • Currency conversion: The value of your money in the host country can significantly impact your budget. Use an up-to-date currency converter to determine if your desired destination is financially feasible.
  • Relevant courses: Remember that studying should be a priority. Ensure that the courses offered are relevant to your program and degree requirements. Look for unique courses that will enhance your learning and personal development.
  • Ease of travel: If you plan to use your time abroad to explore other places, consider choosing a location with good infrastructure and affordable travel options. This will allow you to easily visit nearby destinations during weekends or holidays.
  • Extracurricular activities: Besides studying, think about what else you can do in your free time. Research nearby attractions, day trips, and local entertainment options to make the most of your time abroad.
  • Time zone and connectivity: Consider the time difference and internet availability to stay connected with friends and family back home. This will help combat homesickness and maintain relationships.
  • Personal growth opportunities: Studying abroad is about learning and growth. Choose a location that will challenge and enrich you academically, culturally, and personally. Consider destinations that align with your field of study or offer unique experiences that will broaden your horizons.

Remember to research, be honest with yourself, and embrace the excitement of exploring new places!


Take time off

Taking time off before starting grad school can be beneficial for several reasons. Firstly, it can help you avoid burnout. Grad school is demanding, and taking a break after your undergraduate studies can give your brain the rest it needs. Research supports this, with a 2020 study finding that medical students who took gap years had significantly lower levels of burnout than those who didn't.

Secondly, a gap year can provide an opportunity to gain valuable work experience. This can enhance your graduate school application and make you a more attractive candidate for certain programs, such as teaching or MBA tracks, which often require or recommend professional experience. Work experience can also help you decide on a career path and give you some perspective on your academic future.

Thirdly, taking time off can allow you to save money for your graduate program. Master's degrees are expensive, often costing upwards of $60,000, and saving beforehand can reduce your reliance on student loans. You could also look for employers that offer tuition assistance programs to help cover the cost of your degree.

Additionally, a break gives you more time to prepare your graduate school applications and take any required entrance exams, such as the GMAT, GRE, or LSAT. You can also use this time to brush up on prerequisite subjects or get a head start on your grad school readings.

Finally, taking time off can help you consider alternatives. You might realise that grad school isn't the best option for your goals, or that you want to change programs. For example, you might decide to pursue a Ph.D. instead of a law degree, or that you want to gain some classroom experience before enrolling in a master's in education.

While taking time off can offer numerous advantages, it may not be the best choice for everyone. If you have clear goals that involve attending grad school immediately, it might make more sense to apply while completing your bachelor's degree. Ultimately, the decision depends on your individual circumstances and goals.


Notify your adviser

Your adviser will be key to helping you make your travel plans a reality. They will be able to give you advice on the best times to travel, and you will need to keep them in the loop with your plans.

Firstly, you will need to check your calendar and see when the best time to travel is. Grad school is busy, and you will need to plan your travel around your studies. The summer is a great time to travel, as things tend to be slower, and your adviser may also be away. You will need to give them plenty of notice, so they can plan around your absence.

You will also need to ensure you are on top of your research and work commitments. It is important to get most of your work done before you go, so you can relax and enjoy your time away. You don't want to be working while you are on vacation, so make sure you plan ahead.

If you are travelling internationally, you will need to make sure your passport is up to date, and that you have made all the necessary arrangements, such as booking flights and accommodation. It is also a good idea to do some research on your destination, so you can make the most of your time there.

It is always a good idea to keep your adviser informed of your plans, and to give them as much notice as possible. They will be able to advise you on the best times to travel, and help you to plan your trip.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, you can travel while in grad school abroad. In fact, it is encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to explore new places and cultures.

Plan your trip in advance to make it stress-free. Book tickets and accommodations early, and try to find a travel buddy if going out of the country. Notify your adviser and ensure you are on track with your school work.

Summer is a great time to travel as things tend to be slower, and you may have more flexibility with your schedule.

Travelling allows you to experience new things, explore different cultures, and gain valuable international experience. It can also be a great way to relieve stress and add some variety to your life as a grad student.

Travelling while in grad school can be expensive, and you may have to work with the constraints of a limited budget. Additionally, if you are travelling far from your home country, you may need to deal with issues such as homesickness and the challenges of being outside your comfort zone.

Written by
Reviewed by
Share this post
Did this article help you?

Leave a comment