What I’ve Learned: Starting Your Semester Abroad Search

Believe it or not, I’ll be on my last week of classes by the end of October! That’s followed by a week-long study break and then finals on four separate days throughout early November. And that wraps up my fall semester.

Crazy, right?

But before I really begin that countdown, I’d like to offer a few pointers for those who may be starting their journey for a semester abroad.

“The takeaway from what I’m trying to say is this: you have control over the experience you want to have”

I know it sounds cliche but this is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity! There’s always a chance to save up money to travel around the world, but we can only be college students for so long. So experiencing a country and its culture from that perspective can only happen … well, now.

For starters — location, location, location. The world is your oyster, as they say. So where would you like to go? Yes, Europe is a popular option but there are plenty of other continents and countries to choose from! So be open-minded.

It’s also worth considering the time of year you could be attending. If you’re like me, I’ve never lived anywhere with snow before and I know I don’t do well in areas with extreme cold. So that narrowed some options for me.

It will also help narrow down your options once you take a look at your academics. Do you have a language emphasis or are you looking at English-speaking courses only? Are you just getting into your major classes or are you still checking off some GE’s and prerequisites? During my own process, picking out my university abroad came down to class availability.

It helped a lot that SDSU already had established relations and previously approved classes with a number of universities in a variety of countries. But don’t let that stop you if you have found a new university on your own that piqued your interest.

In this case, use your Degree Evaluation to its fullest! Check off the remaining classes you need to take and see which semesters they are available at SDSU. For the more limited ones, try to keep them at SDSU. Also try to keep the heaviest of your major classes at SDSU. This is something I’ve learned personally as someone who is taking their fall semester of their fourth year abroad. It’s not impossible but it’s trickier and it’s something definitely worth considering. I say this because the overall structure of the major is most likely very different than what SDSU has created for us.

If anything, I would highly recommend picking a semester around your junior year for a semester abroad. It’s right around the time you start to get into classes for your major but still dabbling into the fundamental concepts.

Funnily enough, the rest of what to consider on your search for your preferred university is going to look a lot like picking a college during senior year of high school. Do you want to experience living in a big city or not? Would you want a large university or a smaller one instead? Do you know if there’s something particular about the program you’re looking at that’s special for your major of study?

The takeaway from what I’m trying to say is this: you have control over the experience you want to have! It’s not always easy and it may not always be what you expect it to be, but sometimes those unexpected differences turn out to be the greatest moments.

Come into your study abroad, regardless of its length, with an open-mind! You’re here to learn so much about yourself and the world around you.

Optical illusion in Fremantle.

For anyone who’s interested in a semester abroad or have any questions they want to personally ask me about Australia or kinesiology or anything else, I’m more than happy to help! Just reach out to me either through the comments section below or through my Instagram (@hidalgokaat).


Kat Hidalgo is a fourth-year kinesiology (physical therapy emphasis) major. She is studying at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia for the fall semester.

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