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I've started a PhD position at a university in the US, but I'd like to travel during my time there. What's the easiest way to do something like that? Are there fellowships or grants available for students who want to study abroad for a semester or year, and if so, how can I find them? Or, is studying abroad typically a process that is dependent on who my advisor knows in foreign countries?

If it helps to answer this question, my field is statistics and I'm planning on focusing on spatial statistics.

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    There are conferences everywhere which you can (and should) be attending with your research. – Chris C Nov 19 '13 at 16:52
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    This question is bit hard to answer without knowing your field. Typically, there's no program analogous to what we think of as "study abroad" for Ph.D. students, but this is because for a Ph.D. student, "study" means something very different. Often it means being tied to a particular lab, but even if that's not the case, a semester at another random university doesn't fit into the program the way it would with undergrads. I would encourage you to look more into conferences and workshops rather than "study abroad" per se. – Ben Webster Nov 19 '13 at 22:52
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    Fulbright, or similar country-specific fellowships. There are many. Ask your university fellowship/scholarship office. – Thomas Nov 20 '13 at 12:47
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It may depend on who your advisor knows in foreign countries --- or who you can get to know in foreign countries.

I've known people who've done this, but my impression is that in grad school it becomes less about "doing a study abroad" and more about doing a "visiting scholar" program at a particular school. That is, you wouldn't seek or find something like "I want to study abroad" or "I want to study in Country X". What you could do is find a particular school, department, or researcher in Country X and arrange to visit their department for a certain length of time. I'm in a department in the US, and we regularly have visiting scholars from a range of countries (e.g., Japan, the Netherlands, Finland, Brazil). We currently have one of our own students on a visiting scholar stay in Germany and another is planning a possible study in Singapore.

The thing is that, like anything else in a PhD program, "studying abroad" can't just be "studying", it has to be connected to your particular research. So you would need to build connections with particular departments.

Also, there can often be opportunities for shorter-term study abroad in the form of "workshops" or the like. These would be more in the range of 2-6 weeks. That's a lot less time abroad, but my impression is it's much more straightforward, because you just apply (instead of having to form specific personal relationships with other researchers). These workshops sometimes have fellowships available to cover some or all of the cost, and even if they don't, it's likely to be easier to get funding from other sources if you can point to a specific "thing" you're using it for (i.e., "I am going to this workshop on these dates to learn about these topics" rather than "I'm going to Country X for a while to hang out").

  • Thanks for the elaborate answer! So, a good approach may be to compile a list of experts in my field during my literature review and then investigate their specific interests and availability? – random_forest_fanatic Nov 20 '13 at 17:21
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It is very dependant on the country you live in. There are plenty of countries whos universities have special programs for students studying abroad. In such programs, you are often in contact with other people from your university / country who study or live near you when you're in another country. They then organise several events to explore the culture there.

(I've attended keynotes about this as I'm thinking of studying abroad myself)

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