Junior year is an incredibly interesting time at Tufts. Students are getting deeper into their majors, people are trying to figure out what they want to do after they graduate (Noooo, I don’t want to graduate), and, most importantly, a lot of people are going abroad. From China and Argentina to South Africa and London, students are flying out in flocks to interesting and diverse locations around the globe. This fact especially applies to Tufts, where 40% of students travel abroad at some point during college.
Now, you might be saying to yourself, I definitely want to be one of those 40%. And you can be! However, there are a few big questions you have to ask yourself first. Do I need financial aid? Do I know what languages I’m proficient at? And, the one that’s most relevant to this blog (and the one I’ll be talking about today): Am I an engineer? If the answer is yes, don’t worry!! Engineers can still go abroad, they just have to do a bit more planning first. How do I know this you may ask? Well, I myself am an engineer, and I’m currently set up to travel to Hong Kong University next semester.
That said, below I’ve posted advice and tips to ensure you can go abroad as an engineer during your time at Tufts. If you think have any extra advice, please post below:
1) Know you want to go abroad! If you’re not sure, talk to people who’ve gone abroad before. Look up universities online. Check out the Tufts abroad programs HERE. See if it makes you excited or not! Going abroad is almost always a fantastic experience for everybody, but figure out if you’re willing or financially able to take that step. If you know what the answer is, then you’re set to start planning.
2) Figure out you want to go abroad and start planning at least 1 year in advance!
3) Plan to go to an English speaking country unless you’re ABSOLUTELY fluent in a specific language. My freshman year, I originally thought I wanted to go to Chile to study abroad. When I mentioned this to Dean Knox, she said, ok, that’s fine, but can you understand a Spanish class about Microelectronics? I gave her a blank stare and knew my Spanish skills probably wouldn’t take me to Chile. Don’t worry however, there are still a lot of awesome English speaking countries out there: England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong (that’s where I’m going!) all fit that category. You can also choose to study abroad during the summer in Talloires, France (a Tufts run sister school that is English speaking).
4) Figure out and simplify your course schedule! At the start of your second semester freshman year, you’ll have to declare an engineering major (don’t worry, you can change majors a maximum of 25 times). However, once you kind of know what sect of engineering you’re going into (computer and electrical, chemical and biomedical, civil and environmental, etc.), you should try and plan out your classes for the next four years.
5) Take any AP credits, extra credits and easy classes you may have, then move as many as you can to 1 semester junior year. Essentially, the goal of this would be to find a semester that has mobility and can be changed easily. Change out any movable engineering classes to different semesters (without making those semesters too difficult). Usually, when you’re abroad, you want to limit yourself to 4 classes, of which 2-3 maximum should be engineering.
6) Find out which countries/universities offer the courses you need. There will be some courses you can’t move no matter what, and that’s OK. It just means that you’ll have to find that course at the college you’re looking to study at. For example, I’ll be taking Introduction to Electromagnetic Fields in Hong Kong in addition to two Electrical Engineering Electives. I couldn’t move these anywhere, so they have to come with me, but happily Hong Kong University offers them.
7) Talk to your advisor at least 1 year in advance about going abroad. If you plan ahead and show your advisor that you want to travel, they’ll do their best to work with you and move your schedule around. My advisor, Eric Miller, was extremely helpful when it came to letting me move my classes to different semesters.
If you follow what I detailed above at least somewhat well, I guarantee you can go abroad as an engineer. The Tufts engineering school loves to see its students travel and get a global education. And, while their first priority is you graduating in 4 years, they will be happy to work with you to send you where you want.
With all that said and done, I absolutely cannot wait to travel to Hong Kong next semester. I’m traveling on the Tufts program with 13 other students, and I have many, many stops on my list of places to go. Beijing, Shanghai, Macao, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Malaysia are all on my itinerary. At HKU, the professors and students speak English, but I speak zero cantonese, so getting around the city should be an adventure. Expect many Southeast Asian related engineering posts from me in the future.
For now though, I’m just relishing my last few weeks with my friends and my classes at Tufts.