How Not to Choose a Study Abroad Program
Don't select a study abroad program because...
My friends are going there. Just because one or more of your friends are going to a particular location does not mean that program is right for you. In addition, consider your study abroad goals. Do you want to meet local people and spend time with them to learn their language and culture? If you go with friends, you may spend your time with the same people you see every day at home. While it can sometimes be comforting to have one other person you know to make the study abroad experience less scary, the effect of this on your immersion in the new culture is something to consider.
I know someone who went there and really liked it. Speaking to past participants of a program for their opinions is important. They will be able to give you an idea as to the quality of the program and how it is run. However, once again, you must think about your own needs and goals and choose a program that is right for you.
I hear that it has a great party-atmosphere. Study abroad is not just about studying and students usually have a lot of fun wherever they go. However, choosing a program on the basis of having a party atmosphere or little academic work may not be the best reason. In the long run, you may feel as if you wasted your opportunity to learn about a foreign culture. If a potential employer asks you what you learned on your program, do you want the best answer you can give to be that beer is cheaper and stronger in Mexico? Study abroad is NOT an extended spring break or summer vacation.