Preparing For My Study Year Abroad – The Application Process
Hi everyone! I hope you’re all having a great summer. Both of my blog posts this month are going to be about my study year abroad, which I’ll be embarking on this month! If you’ve ever considered doing a study year abroad, or just want to find out more information about the process, make sure to read on.
I’ll be dividing all of the information about my study year abroad into two blog posts. The first one (this one) will be all about my personal experience of the application process here at Warwick, and my second one will be about my top tips for preparing your personal statement for the application.
So let’s kick off this blog post by actually telling you all about the experience of applying for a study year abroad at Warwick.
When I was applying for universities back in 2019, an important factor was ensuring that all of the institutions I applied for offered a study year abroad. This was something that I had been intent on doing for a few years, with my initial plans to study at an institution in the United States or Canada.
So back in November of 2021, during my second year of Warwick, I attended a few introductory online study abroad talks; ones for my departments (English Literature and Warwick Writing Programme) and another more generalised talk for interested students. It was here that I found out information regarding the institutions available to study at. I ended up deciding to apply through the English department, as the SCAPVC department had study abroad placements for other sub-departments such as theatre and drama students.
Initially, my plans were slightly jolted as I found out that neither the English department nor SCAPVC were offering any university partners in United States for the 2022/23 academic year. However, what they were offering was opportunities to study at Canadian universities! This made the debate between studying at a US or Canadian university a whole lot easier, and meant that I could now focus my attention to ranking the three Canadian universities in order of preference.
This step required a lot of independent research, and took a few weeks. I researched module offerings, the support offered to incoming exchange students, location, facilities on campus and more. One piece of advice I would give to anyone at this stage is to take your time. Make a Word document for each institution and add webpages/ useful information that you can later come back to, to compare the universities. Make sure to check out the extra curricular activities that each institution offers to, such as sports, societies and amenities on campus.
Once I had ranked my three choices, I then focused upon writing my personal statement. This could not be any longer than a single side of A4 paper, so it really was crunch time when it came to the word count, making sure everything was concise and crucial to my personal statement. I explained my overarching motivation to study abroad, why specifically Canada was the place I had chosen, and then moved onto talking about my interests in each of the three universities that I had picked. These were University of Toronto, Queen’s University and McMaster University. As with any cover letter or personal statement, I made sure to relate what the institutions were offering back to myself and my own ambitions. For example, if a particular module interested me, then I would reference it and explain what benefits I would get by taking it.
After I had edited and finally submitted my application, there was a wait of several weeks whilst Warwick internally reviewed all of the applicants. Then, one evening in December 2021, I received an email from Warwick which confirmed I had been accepted onto one of the three places available. I was selected to be nominated for a place Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario for a Study Year Abroad! Cue all of the excitement and the realisation that this was actually happening.
The next step was to wait for the host institution, Queen’s University, to accept the nomination from Warwick. This process took several months, as I’m sure there are a lot of applications from a lot of institutions to be processed. In this time, I had to create some internal accounts and register with Queen’s, as well as send over my transcript from Warwick to them for reviewing. I didn’t have my official letter or confirmation until May 2022, when Queen’s directly contacted me to say that I was officially an Exchange Study Year Abroad student at their university! Before this, I of course experienced the classic worry of being ‘rejected’ on Queen’s end, but I was told by the Study Abroad team at Warwick that this very rarely happens, and the ‘acceptance’ by the host university is more a formality rather than an actual entire review of your application. Put it this way – if Warwick have nominated you for a place on a Study Year Abroad, it is likely that the place will be confirmed by the host institute in good time.
Once this had occurred, my next steps were to get my study permit from Canada. This involved taking a trip down to the embassy in London, after filling out some paperwork and application online. At the embassy, my biometrics and digital photograph were taken. A few weeks after this, my application was approved. Other things which I needed to sort out included booking my airplane tickets, accommodation, checking out the best mobile phone data packages, organising healthcare and selecting module options. It sounds like a lot, but if you take it in manageable, bite-sized chunks each day, it becomes a whole lot easier.
Queen’s University has been incredible during the entire pre-departure process, as at this point it is them who I contact for details about modules, healthcare etc. Their IPO department (International Program Office) is incredibly supportive and always replies back to my emails very quickly. It’s made the whole process of transitioning from Warwick to Queen’s for the year, very smooth!
In just over two weeks, I’ll be heading to Canada after almost an entire year of planning beforehand. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to continue writing blog posts on OurWarwick during this time, due to overseas working regulations. But hopefully, I will be back working for OurWarwick during my final year at Warwick, ready to tell you all about my amazing experiences and top tips for everything study year abroad!