When I was in my first year of university, my older brother was applying for an exchange program. I always thought ‘wow that sounds like so much fun, I’m going to do that too!’. Next thing I knew, my final year was approaching and I hadn’t even looked into the application process. Studying abroad isn’t something that just happens; it’s something that you’ve got to work for, and it can be a pretty tedious process. Luckily, applications were still open for my last semester, and I was able to rush to get it all done, but boy did I wish I had started earlier!
Here are some of our tips and tricks for the application process:
1. Start Early
It took over a year of preparation for me to get to Australia. My home and host universities both required a lot of paperwork to ensure I would meet all the requirements for the program, and would get credits at my home university! The earlier you start, the less you have to stress out about all the paperwork. Give yourself time to get everything completed so that you don’t end up running around last minute to get everything done!
2. Take advantage of your school’s study abroad events
Study abroad fairs, guest speakers, student panels, etc… If you have access to these events, GO! They might seem like a waste of time, but this is really the best way to find out information and get your questions answered. Not sure what to ask about? Focus on the programs that are offered, costs and scholarships, and what is allowed for your major!
3. Do your research
If you want to study abroad for a semester or longer, you need to make sure you choose a destination that’s worthy of that commitment! Things like diet, language barriers, and transportation can be overlooked for short vacations, but for longer-term trips they should be considered. It might sound crazy, but you don’t want to touch down in your new home and realize that you don’t like most of the food there.
I know of a girl who decided to study abroad and actually went home because she was such a picky eater, and the place she was staying couldn’t accommodate her diet. Don’t be that girl.
4. Find a support system
It’s nice to have a support group through this process. My home university had everyone who was studying abroad take a class together, and meet up a few times throughout the semester before we left. These meetings reminded me that I wasn’t the only one going through it. The study abroad office faculty at my school also helped to keep me on top of all my paperwork. They gave me deadlines that were a little bit earlier than necessary and gave me constant reminders of what I needed to get done. Find this kind of support!
5. Remember, It’s SO worth it
After a while, all the tedious paperwork and requirements seem pointless, and might have you wondering if it’s worthwhile. I’m not gonna lie, I considered giving up at times – but boy am I glad I didn’t. Fight through the paperwork, and remember that it will all be worth it! This is a once in a lifetime experience, and it’s one you will cherish for the rest of your life.