Is studying abroad for you?

Many universities give you the opportunity to studying abroad during your university career, enabling you to enhance your learning and experience a completely new side of life (and the world)!  Sounds great right? It really is! But it's also very ok to have doubts about whether studying abroad is for you.  Here are three key concerns that you might consider when choosing to study abroad.

Fear of missing out

It can be easy to fall into a group with other international students when you head off on your year abroad, what with planned trips arranged by the university or meet and greet days.  However, sometimes staying exclusively with other international students causes you to miss out on unique experiences, so why not put yourself out there and get acquainted with the locals. As far as homesickness goes, it happens to the best of us! It can happen when you move away from your family to attend a university in another city, let alone another country.  You'll see something that reminds you of home or feel the need to pick up the phone and call, but differing time zones might be standing in your way.  However, with the power of social media and particularly Skype, you can keep in regular contact with those you miss the most.  Facebook and Whatsapp can help you beat the time difference with a continuous conversation flow, and you can easily arrange a Skype date if you've got a late class, or you're up late studying.  It sucks, but you make it work!

What if the location's not for me?

It's always a good idea to research into something you've never done before and this is key when studying abroad.  Your current university might be affiliated with a handful of universities from all over the world.  Choose your year abroad as you would have chosen your university, based on subject as well as place.  If you end up studying abroad in a country that you've always wanted to travel to, chances are you're not going to regret it. One thing to consider when studying abroad is that class structures and grade boundaries won't be the same as what you're used to.  If you're on track for an A at home and then come to a university that work based on percentages, it's a good idea to try and compare your new grading system in order to fully understand what you need to keep your grade average up.  As well as this, at some universities you must attend all seminars in order to achieve your grades, where as others, seminars are considered optional.

Can I afford it?

Chances are your visa won't cover you to work whilst studying abroad. It can be easy to get carried away with your new friends in your new city, but budgeting is key!  Things to consider when first travelling abroad is what you will need to buy at the other end; bedding, groceries (if you're not in catered accommodation), cooking equipment and daily essentials including travel passes and money for coffee (always!).  Seek advice from your new housemates about where to get the best deals on your essentials and don't forget to budget for the fun too! If you have planned to study abroad for a full school year, you would be best to set up a bank account in your new study home.  Machine withdrawals and international fees can mount up and really affect your sensible and fun budgeting for the year.

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