You can study abroad during any of these years, even at the end of freshman year! Many students assume that the junior year is the best time to study abroad because, by then, they have chosen a major, completed general-education courses, and can plan a study abroad experience before delving into highly specialized courses in their majors. This may be true in some cases, but there are also compelling reasons to study abroad before and/or after junior year.
For example, students who aspire to become fluent in a foreign language would be well-served to participate in an intensive language and culture program during their freshman or sophomore year. It is possible to fulfill a full year of language study in just one semester or summer program, in some cases. This plan can help you reach a higher level of language earlier in your college career, while also exposing you to a new culture in fascinating locations throughout the world.
For seniors, a study abroad program (or a global internship) can offer unique opportunities for advanced courses, specialized research, and/or professional development. For example, certain UO-sponsored programs specialize in marine biology, environmental studies, business, journalism, architecture, and many other fields. Students sometimes go abroad during both their sophomore and senior years, first to become proficient in a foreign language or take gen-ed courses, and later to take advanced courses in their major(s) or to participate in an internship in their field.
We sponsor programs that are available throughout the calendar year. Most study abroad programs affiliated with an international university run on semester calendars and therefore offer their most complete programming during the fall or winter/spring semesters. You will first have to decide whether to participate in a fall semester, in which you will likely earn more credits than in a typical UO fall term (18 to 25 approximately); or in a winter/spring semester, in which you would earn perhaps less credit than in two typical UO academic terms, but will be able to apply two terms of financial aid and scholarships toward the costs of studying abroad. We also sponsor a few programs that operate during the Winter Term only or the Spring Term only.
For many students, summer is the ideal time to study abroad, because you have required courses or sequences that must be completed at the UO during the academic year. Other students opt to study in the summer because of the availability of attractive language programs and UO Global Seminars (programs led by UO professors). And while summer remains an excellent and viable option, students should know that there are fewer scholarships to study abroad during the summer, and that summer financial aid is less generous (for undergraduates) than during the regular academic year. Also, for the purpose of achieving language proficiency and gaining cultural competency through immersion, there is much to be said for remaining abroad for an extended period of time.
We strongly encourage students to start thinking about studying abroad early in the college career. The sooner you start gathering information and planning, the likelier you will be able to find a program that best fits with your academic interests, budget, and graduation schedule. You will find that we sponsor a wide variety of programs that differ in length, cost, discipline, and location. Some are as long as a whole academic year, a 21-week semester, or as short as a 5-week summer session or even just a week or two in an intensive UO Global Seminar.
While deciding when to go, make sure you have gathered all of the necessary information from your major adviser, from financial aid and scholarship experts, and from UO Study Abroad Programs. A major adviser can go over academic requirements and when certain courses should be completed in Eugene; financial aid and scholarship experts can provide valuable insight on how to afford the costs of studying abroad; and study abroad advisers can explain all of the various program options, along with guiding you through the application process. All of these steps are important toward planning your study life-changing study abroad experience!