Studying a year abroad - what to expect
By Natasha Margerison, studying BA (Hons) Dance
The Exchange Programme on offer here at Chichester University is an exciting one and an opportunity of a lifetime! The chance to study abroad offers you a unique learning experience that will allow you to approach your chosen studies with fresh and innovative ideas. The new academic environment challenges your mind to new extents and provides you with a diverse range of ideas, individuals, teaching and learning styles. Immersing yourself into a brand-new culture gives your system the shock it needs to allow you to flourish. You’ll develop into an adaptive, creative and independent, risk taking individual, capable of working with a wide range of minds and talents. What more could you want from your degree?
Applying for Exchange is pretty straight forward. If you follow the pages on Moodle for studying abroad, the list of institutions and courses on offer can all be found there. However, I would definitely recommend doing your own research into the institutions that catch your eye! Although there are many institutions offering an exchange for what appears to be the same course, each location will have different approaches to the studies and different expectations from you as a student. You need to be sure you find the best fit for you so you receive the right training and exchange experience suited to you.
There are many exchange locations available and the wide variety can leave you feeling a bit like a kid in a candy store! Try not to get overwhelmed by the options and remind yourself that you are not only looking for the most exciting lifestyle a location has to offer but most importantly, a course that is going to engage you for the next 6-12 months! Once you feel like you have found the right programme you can start applying! The first application can be found on Moodle in the same Study Abroad section. Once this is completed, the international office sends a copy to the institution(s) you have chosen and await a response.
Patience is key at this stage as application processing can take some time. Getting applications in early can help lessen the stress on your end – take it from someone who didn’t! I had sent in my final application for York University in Toronto, Canada when I suddenly realised another institution would suite me much better. This was beginning of April 2017– when everyone was securing their housing for their second year or preparing their documents for their accepted exchange! I ended up withdrawing my application to Canada and applying to Escola Superior de Danca in Lisboa, Portugal. I spent the last few months of my first year and most of my summer stressing about the fact I may end up rejected from the exchange and homeless in my second year. Thankfully, I received my acceptance in mid July 2017 but this didn’t leave much time to prepare for my move that September! You can save yourself a lot of hassle by getting your applications in early and chasing them up constantly but don’t panic if you’re indecisive like myself and change your mind because as long as you’re on top of everything it can work out just as well.
Awaiting your responses gives you more time to research your chosen institution and location. If you’re lucky, there may be current third years in your faculty that have been to the place(s) you’ve applied. You should speak with these guys to find out more about the course and area you may be joining- this way you get an insight into all the pros and cons you won’t find on the institution’s websites. If there are any students currently on the exchange get in touch with them too! Speaking to students presently on an exchange will give you the most up to date idea of how the course runs and what kind of lifestyle you’ll be embarking on in the following year. I was lucky enough to get in touch with a student who was at the Lisboa institution and her advice and feedback not only solidified my choice to apply but helped me prepare for the course expectations and source safe and affordable accommodation for the duration of my stay abroad.
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