How to Choose a Program

Know Your Options while studying abroad

First Steps

Ready to learn more about studying abroad? Your first step is to narrow down which program or type of program is the best fit for you. Review the considerations below, and then attend a First Step Session! No preparation is required, but considering the items below will help prompt questions to ask, or bring up things you want to discuss. 

You can also meet with a Peer Advisor one-on-one with no appointment neededPeer Advisors are Tommies who have studied abroad for at least one semester and are a great resource when you are getting started with your study abroad planning. Learn from their experience, ask questions, and explore all of your options. Check out their bio and drop-in hours below.  

Do you already feel like you know which term or program is for you? Visit our How to Apply page to review the application process.

Consider Your Priorities

There are many different ways to approach selecting the best program for you. To assist you in the selection process, answer the following questions. 

Do you want a program that will contribute to your expertise in your chosen major and/or career? If so, a program specific to your field would be your first priority. Such a program might include:

  • major/minor specific classes
  • an internship
  • a location that relates to your major.

Do you have a specific location in mind that fits your personal interests and/or major? If so, focus on location to help you narrow your search.

Do you know what type of program you are looking for? Here are some program components you might consider:

  • program size
  • classes with other international/U.S./local students
  • internship
  • cohort model
  • research/project options

Do you prefer to study abroad for a specific term?

  • J-Term/summer programs offer an intensive experience to fully immerse yourself in the course content for a short period of time.
  • Semester/year programs allow you to actually live in a new country and adapt to another culture while pursuing your academic and career goals.

Create Goals

Why do you want to study abroad? What do you hope to gain from the experience? 

Maybe you just know you want to see the world, or perhaps you have a specific program in mind that supports a career goal. Either way, take some time now to note some broad goals, and consider what is important to you. 

Goals and desired outcomes will change and develop throughout the study abroad process. Beginning to define them now will help shape your experience, and bring a more focused perspective as you consider different options and program types. 

Meet Your Peer Advisors:

Olivia Manternach '23

Peer Advisor Olivia Manternach standing in front of a mural depicting feathered wings in Mexico

Hi, my name is Olivia Manternach, and I am from the Quad Cities, IL. I am a Senior at St. Thomas majoring in International Studies and minoring in Spanish.  



During the Spring of 2022, I studied abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico through SIT. I chose this program because the themes correlated with my major, and the program allowed me to broaden my skills in Spanish, research, and cross-cultural relations.  

My time in Mexico helped me grow in so many ways. I made new friends and developed a wonderful connection with my host family. I was able to explore many aspects of Mexico’s culture, history, and politics in a nontraditional classroom setting that opened my mind to different ways of learning. Along with structured excursions throughout Mexico, my friends and I were able to explore the colorful city of Oaxaca and visit the many artisanal communities that surround it. I returned home with an appreciation for different ways of life, newfound skills in Spanish, and a second family that I will treasure forever.  

When I am not working at the Study Abroad Office, I spend my time planning events for the Aquinas Scholars, watching romantic historical dramas, and playing card games with friends. I also love to write, drink tea, and show people cute photos of frogs! I can't wait to meet with my fellow Tommies and help them on their study abroad journey.  


Advising Hours: 

Monday: 2:30 - 3:30 MHC 212

Tuesday: 3:30 - 4:30 MHC 212

Wednesday: 2:30 - 3:30 MHC 212

First Step Sessions: 

Tuesdays at 12:00PM MHC 212

Thursdays at 7:30PM via zoom

Fridays at 2:00PM MHC 212

See Events Calendar for details. 


Lucia Rosales '23

Peer Advisor Lucia Rosales standing on a balcony overlooking Rome

Hello! My name is Lucia Rosales. I grew up here in Eagan, MN.


I am a senior this year who transferred from St. Kate's during my sophomore year of college. I am majoring in psychology and minoring in Catholic studies.

For my study abroad experience, I went to Rome, Italy, with the Catholic Studies Rome program. By going with that program, I completed my Catholic Studies minor and got to experience the Catholic culture in Italy.

While in Rome, I adapted to a new pace of life filled with joy, purpose, and an outlook on beauty. I traveled to many cities in Italy and spent some weekends in small Italian towns, which surprisingly were the most memorable for my friends and me! I studied at two pontifical universities filled with people from all over the world. It gave me a better sense of the universality of the Catholic church.

In my free time, I love being outside, hammocking, practicing yoga, or playing my ukulele. I also like drawing with charcoal and experimenting with different art mediums. I also love thrift shopping and spending time with my siblings! I am excited to get to know future studying abroad Tommies who share my love for having new experiences!



Advising Hours: 

Tuesday: 9:30 - 10:30 & 1:00 - 2:00

Wednesday: 12:30 - 1:30 

First Step Sessions: 

Tuesdays at 12:00PM MHC 212

Thursdays at 7:30PM via zoom

Fridays at 2:00PM MHC 212

See Events Calendar for details. 

Emma Steen '23

Peer Advisor Emma Steen standing in front of grassy seaside bluffs in Ireland

Hi! My Name is Emma Steen I am a senior studying International Studies with a minor in Spanish here at St. Thomas. I am from Moose Lake, Minnesota, which is a small town up north. Even though I am a small-town girl, I love being in the city!


I studied abroad in the Fall of 2021 in Galway, Ireland. I have been drawn to Ireland my entire life and took the first opportunity I could to live there. I took lots of fun classes about the culture and history and learned so much about my favorite country. I also made lots of amazing friends and fell in love with Galway. Galway became home for me. It is a city full of life, music, and culture! I got to see quite a bit of the rest of Ireland while I was there as well, like the Irish countryside and its stone walls, the cliffs and hills of western Ireland, the Aran Islands, Dublin, and many other Irish cities and towns. 

I am an avid traveler. Travel is my passion and I have been traveling abroad since I was 15. I have been to Europe several times and have visited Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, France, Romania, and of course Ireland. I have also visited Canada and Costa Rica in North America and Thailand in Asia. Each trip has changed me in its own way, and I hope to use these experiences to help you all plan your study abroad journey.

I have many other pastimes as well. I play flute in the symphonic band, along with a few other instruments in my free time. I am always learning a new instrument. I also love baking and have a little business in my hometown where I sell European baked goods. Along with all of these I also enjoy reading and writing, hanging out on the lake at home, and spending time with friends and family. 

Advising Hours: 

Monday: 9:30 - 11:00

Wednesday: 9:30 - 11:00

First Step Sessions: 

Tuesdays at 12:00PM MHC 212

Thursdays at 7:30PM via zoom

Fridays at 2:00PM MHC 212

See Events Calendar for details.