When you get to college, one of the first things people will tell you is how you just have to study abroad (see Tomas: My Semester Abroad). And honestly, they’re right. Studying abroad is one of the most unique experiences you can have in college, and it’s completely different for everyone. However, choosing a program, a location, and a quarter that’s right for you can be a struggle.
Here’s my argument for why summer quarter is the ideal time to go:
- You can go somewhere colder and not kick yourself about it
When I told people that I had chosen Copenhagen for my study abroad destination, everyone talked about the “eternal darkness” that is the minimal hours of sunlight they have throughout the winter. Instead of enduring this, I got to experience Scandinavia during a time where the sun barely set at all and every day was a comfortable 65-70 degrees. It was perfect biking weather and on the warmer days we even took trips down to the beach!
- You get credits faster
This one probably seems obvious, but I honestly wasn’t thinking about it at the time. Even though the quarter system makes it super easy to graduate on time (and usually with room to drop a class here and there) it’s always nice to know you’re getting ahead on some credits. In fact, having the extra few credits from studying abroad in the summer was what ultimately fulfilled my requirement to graduate early. Northwestern also affiliates itself with amazing study abroad programs, so I had no problem transferring credits, and even got a discount on my abroad tuition for being a Northwestern student!
- You have more free time
Studying abroad during a semester means a full course load, and therefore more time spent in class and completing assignments. Doing a summer program allowed me a lot more flexibility than a lot of my friends who had longer trips, and taking less classes at once let me focus so much more on what I was learning in each course.
- You don’t have to worry about getting a summer internship
No joke. You get to run away and have a totally valid excuse for skipping application season.
- You don’t get the FOMO of missing an entire quarter of school
Even adventurers miss home. I’d love to say that I chose my path solely on program and destination, but if I’m being honest I’m so happy that I didn’t have to miss out on fall football games with my friends. Once your time at Northwestern starts, it doesn’t let up, and I wanted to enjoy every second that I could on this campus that I call my home.