Get Ready: Plan Ahead

There are many ways to see the world as an MIT student.

There’s also lots you can do right here on campus to get involved and get ready to go abroad. Good news: reading this page is one of them! The sooner you start to plan, the better. Here are 5 things you can be doing right now to get on your way.

  1. Stop trying to figure out where you can go and start trying to figure out where you want to go.
    Of course it helps to know what your options are, but the fact is MIT students go almost everywhere in the world. What experience makes the most sense for you? Do you want to help develop a community? Immerse yourself in a foreign language and culture to learn it from the inside? Experience a different way to tackle whatever you’re studying? Work for a global company? The perfect opportunity is easier to find if you already have an idea what it looks like. So do a little soul-searching, think about your future, and set some goals.
  2. Talk to literally everybody about going abroad.
    Your friends. Your classmates. Your neighbors. Your family. Your professors. Academic administrators. Advisors. We mean everybody. Make a list of questions you have about going abroad, and see how different people answer them. Probably you will get completely contradicting advice. That’s how you know you’re doing it right. It’s good to hear the range of opinions, and you might learn about some great opportunities along the way. Pro-tip: talk to students who have gone abroad. Typically they will tell you how awesome it was, and often they will even help you with your plans. If you’re not sure where to find them, join a club.
    It should go without saying (and yet we’re saying it): talk to the advisors at MIT’s various global programs. Helping you figure out what to do and how to do it is our job. Not sure where to start? Start with GECD.
  3. Go to global events.
    You’ve got a p-set due after fencing or Spanish class or whatever and you haven’t slept more than 4 hours. Isn’t the water from the fire hose delicious? Making time for things is always going to be a challenge, so it’s good to prioritize. If you’re really interested in going abroad, you’re going to need to set some time aside to attend global events. Not just the obviously fun ones like movie screenings and food tastings. Go to some info sessions. Hear the pitch and ask your questions. You’ll be glad you did. There’s usually free food at these things anyway.
    One event not to miss is the annual Go Global Fair – all the major global opportunities MIT offers (and a bunch of outside ones) in one place, at one time. Yay, efficiency!
  4. Take global classes.
    Take classes at college = kind of a no-brainer. (The classes themselves require a lot of brains. This is MIT after all.) Studying a foreign language is one of the most obvious ways to prepare for a trip abroad. But not all global opportunities require that you speak a language other than English – and foreign language classes are just the tip of the global iceberg at MIT. The School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (SHASS) has an all-you-can-eat buffet of courses examining arts, politics, history and culture from every corner of the world. (Great place to start: 21F.076, Globalization: the Good, the Bad, and the In-Between.) D-Lab classes explore real world problems and the skills it takes to solve them. There’s even a Minor in Applied International Studies. Take advantage of this smorgasbord while you can.
  5. Go get your passport because this is happening.
    Don’t wait until you’ve made up your mind to get started on the paperwork. Keep your options open by getting the ball rolling now.