On my list of "things to do" while in business school, international experience was at the top when I applied. I wanted to travel and study abroad. Of course after being emerged in Darden for almost a year, the desires change. I'm still interested, however, Darden has one of the best faculties in the world, so I wonder what the true value of the experience here is versus somewhere else.
That said, I bid on and was accepted to a Q3 exchange with SSE (Sweden School of Economics). The bidding process here is quite informal. You send your top 3 schools to a coordinator and then the coordinator does his best to match you with your top or 2nd choice. The most popular school was IESE for a semester exchange, other than that, there were minimal waitlists.
I wouldn't say that studying abroad is discouraged at Darden, though it isn't as talked up as it may be other places. I couldn't imagine being gone for an entire semester next year, which is why I looked for a school where the exchange is only one quarter. The worry of studying abraod during Q4 is that Darden won't receive your transcript for transfer credit in time for graduation. Furthermore, the time table of schools abroad may be different than Darden and you are not allowed to miss an entire first week of class.
Another consideration is recruiting. If you're gone during Q1 and Q2, you miss the entire on-campus recruiting season. If that wasn't a factor, I probably would have picked IAE in Argentina during Q2. There are no additional costs for study abroad. You pay Darden tuition and simply need to find housing while abroad. Class transfers are a bit difficult and apparently take a lot of work for proper approval. My thought, start early and be organized. We'll see how that goes. I'm still bidding on Q3 classes in case I change my mind in the next 6 months. Though I haven't decided if bidding on the "popular" professors for Q3 is worth my points. If I don't leave, I'd be disappointed that I missed a chance to be in these classes. But if I do leave, did I just "waste" bid points. Dilemmas! All the same, I'm STOKED about Sweden and feel strongly that I will be headed there in January of 2010. Here's a full list of available exchanges for those interested.