Laura Kosloff can be found at The Exchange Mom, a blog supporting exchange students, their families and host families. This piece on studying abroad as an adult was originally featured there.
Someone asked me recently if I thought it was a silly idea for an adult to consider a long-term language or study abroad program. I responded with, “why not?” What does age have to do with learning another language, being interested in learning about other cultures, and wanting to have new experiences? It seemed obvious to me, but I realized that for many people it might not be so clear.
Want To Explore Studying Abroad As An Adult?
Many exchange organizations that work with high school or college students offer programs specifically designed for adults. These are generally not traditional “study abroad” programs. They’re not necessarily scheduled over a semester or an academic year, and they may not involve academic studies. Obviously adults have different needs and motivations than a teenager in high school or a young adult in college – both – in general, and when it comes to studying abroad. These concerns and needs are addressed by these adult-focused opportunities.
There are language programs with intensive immersion, study programs with traditionally structured classes, and volunteer work programs. There are short-term programs of a few weeks, and longer-term options of working abroad. Teaching English abroad is a popular option that some adults might find suits their motivations and goals.
Some programs offer you housing choices such as a dorm, a shared residence with other adults who are study-abroad participants, or in a local host family. It sounds odd, but it’s an option – adults can absolutely live with a host family. We see that in short-term programs in which teachers and other professionals live with a U.S. family while they are here. It can work elsewhere, too.
Often you will find that qualifications are required and an application needs to be submitted. One of the most well-known and prestigious programs in the U.S. is the Fulbright Program. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright Program is the “flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” The program provides funding for overseas study and research opportunities for students, scholars, artists, teachers, and other professionals.
With a bit of research, you likely can find a program that fits with your goals. Several private organizations you can start with that represent different types of adult study and travel abroad programs include Road Scholar (formerly known as Elderhostel); Study Abroad International; AmeriSpan; JET Program USA (teaching English in Japan); and EF International Language Schools. This short list is just a sampling of what is available.
In summary, if you want to take more than a few days vacation abroad and live somewhere for a while—whether it be three weeks, three months, or longer—there may be ways to make that happen, whether you are 25, 35, or 55. Take the time to look into it and see if it can work for you.
This piece was originally published on The Exchange Mom.