Applying for a Year Abroad
Around this time of year, many departments at Warwick will be opening their application processes for Year Abroad to their students. As someone who was on Year Abroad last year, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share a little bit about the application process to help out anyone thinking of applying.
As basic as it sounds, you should first of all decide whether Year Abroad is for you. Most departments as well as the student mobility team will be holding information sessions to tell you how the process works, what you should expect from time abroad, and any practicalities to consider (such as cost, timeframe etc.). I would strongly encourage you to go along to these, as attendance is sometimes mandatory for potential applicants, and even if it isn’t it you should be gathering information to help you make your decision. The dates of these sessions are usually sent out in emails from department administrators and on the student mobility mailing list, which can be signed up to on their Warwick webpage, but if you aren’t sure you can contact your personal tutor to find out when they are.
As you decide if Year Abroad would be a good experience for you, you may want to consider some key questions about how you function at Warwick, for example: Do you struggle with living away from home (and therefore would living further away be helpful or unhelpful)? Do you have the necessary language skills to live and study abroad, or should you pick somewhere that teaches in your first language? Do you feel comfortable finding somewhere to live while abroad, and likely living with new flatmates? Do you have the study and learning skills to study in a new university system? Will the location you choose be somewhere you actually enjoy living? Will you have sufficient funds to live abroad? Answering these questions will indicate whether you are in a suitable position and mind-frame to take on a Year Abroad, which can be challenging as well as fun.
Decided you want to go on Year Abroad? Congratulations! The next stage will probably be an application to your home department or the central Warwick Year Abroad system. For me, this consisted of answering several questions in a form regarding my motivation for going on Year Abroad, and a statement of support from my tutor. If your application requires the same things, I would suggest carefully drafting out your answers before submitting them, and trying to draw on experience/examples already in your repertoire to give evidence of your suitability – though of course refer primarily to any advice given by your department. If your tutor is giving a statement, it might be worth meeting with them during their office hours to explain why you’re applying or answer any questions they may have for you.
If you are selected by your department, you will likely have to make a second application to your top university/universities so you can be accepted by them. Again, follow the criteria they provide and try to be specific and evidenced in your answers. It’s all well and good if you’ve wanted to study abroad for years, but it’s more helpful to your application to show that you have the skills needed to do so than to generalise vaguely if sincerely. At this point, you should also research the universities you are applying to, to make sure that they run courses and host activities suitable for your departmental academic requirements, and in case you can bring up any specific details about them in your application to show that you have researched your options thoroughly.
Hopefully that’s enough advice to get you through your application! To close, I’ll just recommend two things – ask questions, and be open. By that, I mean that you should ask advice and support from whoever you can – other students who have been on year abroad, student mobility staff, personal tutors. The more informed you are, the better the decision you’ll make. Finally, keep your options and mindset open. You never know what opportunities are out there, so try not to restrict yourself to only wanting to do Year Abroad under very specific circumstances. Exciting opportunities may be waiting for you in unexpected locations or student mobility programmes beyond Year Abroad. You’ll never know until you give it a try!