Year Abroad Applications!
Hi all, as I am currently studying on an Erasmus year at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland I thought I could share some things that you should probably consider before applying for Study Abroad (something which is coming up soon).
Study Abroad is a fantastic opportunity to broaden ones horizons and get a taste of a different department, lifestyle, and culture. However, uprooting and starting anew comes with some challenges that can be managed if you are made aware of them sooner rather than later. This is by no means a discouraging post; I would advise anyone who has the means to try and study internationally. However, be sure to attend the study abroad lectures and check your study abroad eVision portal for specific information tailored to you, as well as taking into consideration the below points:
· Are Your Documents Up to Date?
Do you have a valid passport, (you need to have at least 6 months on passport from the date of your arrival) an EHIC card etc. You can sometimes renew these online.
· Teaching in English
Does your desired department teach in English? It may sound like an obvious question but if you are unfamiliar with the native language it is really important to clarify what language they will be teaching and assessing and in. If you are studying abroad to improve your language skills, again, be mindful of whether or not your year is intercalated or will comprise your final mark. If the case is the latter it might be worth seeking out departments that solely teach and assess in your strongest language- just to make your life easier.
· Living Circumstances
Before even touching a form, research your desired university accommodation policy. Does the partner university offer on campus accommodation for study abroad students? Be wary that some universities do not (Trinity included) and finding private accommodation can be stressful, uncertain and potentially fraudulent. Inquire about average rent prices, join accommodation groups on Facebook, and don’t dismiss digs or living with a family/ landowner.
Similar to above investigate how expensive living and studying at your prospective university will be. How much will commuting cost, will you pay for food or will you find accommodation that provides meals alongside rent? When you are confident that you can budget the year (and if this applies to you) be stringent in applying for your student finance funding and find out as quickly as possible how much money you will be credited per term. Furthermore, be vigilant when looking out for grants, whether that be Erasmus grants or potential scholarships you could benefit from. Don’t be shy to ask- you are a student and deserve financial support!
If you have an ongoing medical condition or need physical or mental support for your overall wellbeing, be prepared to ask for your home GP to transfer medical documents overseas. Sometimes international countries only accept paper copies, so you may need to get your records emailed to you ready to be printed off. For more information and travel advice (and this extends to all queries not just medical ones) visit Foreign & Commonwealth Office online and read their travel advice pages which provide specific information on an array of different territories and countries re medication policy and registering with a GP (link here https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice)
· Keep On Top of Admin
It is best you know now that Studying Abroad requires a lot of admin- something which, like a weed, you unfortunately need to keep on top of. Remember that, particularly for European offices, admin tends to shut down in August so try and get as much as you can done before the end of the summer. Also don’t forget that even while on placement admin needs to be completed regarding your arrival plan, and module enrollment. Stay proactive and tackle little bits at a time and eventually you will get all the boxes ticked.
· Be Prepared to Settle In Again
This point is more relevant to your future self, but once you start your placement remember that you will essentially be a little fresher again. Expect to feel a little disorientated and expect frustrations that come with change, albeit little or large. Remember that you will have to learn the ropes again, pick up a new student card, have a new ID number, and work out how to use different printers. It will be exciting some days and on others it is best to remind yourself that you only get to be a fresher *twice* so just go with it.
Lastly, I would again like to add that a lot of supplementary information regarding, grants, insurance, emergency contacts will be made available to you at your Study Abroad Orientations.
Now you have had time to mull over the dry technicalities (sorry it must be done) you can now get excited!
All the best with your applications,
PS Cover image is I Viaggiatori a sculpture by the artist Bruce Catalano, symbolising the void created by leaving one’s country, one’s family, one’s people for another life.