Study Abroad:It is usually a 6 - 8 week experience where mostly undergraduate students attend classes in a specific university. It's essentially like going on one big class trip, but you still get grades. I go to NYU, so my detailed examples will include data from their website, but I get nothing from this, it's just easier to compare (so please DON'T SHOOT!) So let's say we want to study at NYU Prague, each class is 3-4 credits, and ranges from languages to business to media. A lot of times you must apply through the overseas university branch, so be careful of due dates!
Living Space(Ie a student dorm): Some universities let you pick and chose, but most require that students live on their official campus space, which includes typical dull dorm room furniture and a kitchen every other floor. Single rooms are very rare, so be prepared to bunk up!
Meals:Some universities allow you to pay on for a meal program, include it already or only cover half or none. Check with yours, if they don't say in the adverts, clarify!
Tuition:Yep, ya gotta still pay for classes, and all the fees that go with it.
Flight:You might be required to fly together with your group, but sometimes you can get your own flight. Check with your school, as if they do group flights, it might be a discounted fee.
Independent Research Abroad:You are typically working to a large project, most of the time it's research in archives or within communities. This is mostly for graduate students who have shown that they are responsible enough to do the work on their own. They don't attend classes unless they want to sign up, but that's their prerogative. It's usually about 4-6 credits. You have to be signed off by the director of your studies and have a clear plan of action.
Living Space:Find your own apartment. So if you want a room mate, live with extended family or just have your own space, it's up to you. The budget is yours and so is the location. I am actually renting my own apartment even though I do have many family within the same city in Poland, but as family goes, they won't give me peace of mind to do my own work, so I need that space.
Meals:You have an apartment, so most likely you will have a kitchen and will do your own grocery shopping and cooking. I underscore INDEPENDENT, if you don't want to do it, you don't have to. If you feel like having dinner at 10pm, you can, if you want breakfast for dinner, make a waffle.
Tuition:Yes you pay it but only for the credits you are taking for it. You do not have an actual class so most of the time the tuition rate is a bit lower.
Flight:Wanna have a layover in London and go all Anthony Bourdain? Go for it. Want nonstop? Do it. Hate flying at night or early? Schedule how you please. You are responsible for it.
I highlight the fact that independent research is so lose and free BECAUSE you are at that point in the academic career where you should be responsible enough to do all of the work on your own. It's a huge undertaking and if you don't feel like you could tackle a project like this, perhaps consider an independently organized internship. It still gives structure, but it's experience and not classes. You still have a final project to do, but it's not a thesis.
Hope this helps! Coming soon...budgets, financial planning for a trip, and how to pack.