4 things to know before studying abroad

Studying abroad can be one of the most amazing experiences you undertake not only at university but in your whole life. I spent a year across two different continents as part of my degree, and whilst it was the best thing I’ve done to date, it wasn’t always fun and games. There are a few things that your current and prospective university may not tell you about studying abroad, so I’m here to reveal all!

1. Watch out for hidden extra costs

Studying abroad is not cheap…however, there are ways that you can minimise your outgoings. Check which universities require you to have their own health insurance; in my first university, I had to pay around £500 for the health insurance, whereas, at my second, I was able to shop around get a cheaper one for around £150…a huge saving! Other universities require you to automatically pay for things like a recreation centre, which you may not end up using. Information like this will be available on the university websites, so take a look before you finalise those choices.

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2. Get used to a different way of teaching

You may think that university teaching is pretty similar globally, especially in places such as North America and Australia…wrong! I studied in both, and the teaching varied not only between the two but also compared to here in the UK. There may be ways of doing things and assessment techniques that you might not like, but you will unfortunately just need to accept it. If anything, try and embrace this different way of learning. You could find that you actually prefer it and adapt your own style back home.

3. You might not like the other ‘Brits’

There is a tendency when studying abroad to seek out those that you’re most familiar with, e.g. other British people. However, just like anybody you come across in life, you may not get along with them. Don’t force a friendship that isn’t there, and definitely, don’t feel put out if this does happen. One of the great things about going to a foreign university is the chance to make diverse, multicultural friends. In my group of friends in North America, I was the only one who spoke English as a first language, and I loved it. Your conversations will be more varied and you won’t just be stuck talking about all the things you miss back home.

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4. It will feel extremely weird when you get back

Once you’ve had the best time of your life abroad, coming back to your simple British uni might feel strange and a little bit sad. Past friends may have graduated, or simply found someone else to have a cocktail with. Being back under a grey British sky might not seem that exciting anymore and it could be hard to get back into the swing of things.

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However, try not to let it get to you. Catch up with those old pals, brag about the trips you took and the sites you saw, and if anything, be grateful that you don’t have to live out of a suitcase anymore. Besides, the UK is not that bad….and surely you’ve missed a proper cuppa?!

Studying abroad is soul-changing, and I encourage anyone thinking about it to make the plunge and go. It may be tough, challenging, and even upsetting at times (jet-lag is an emotional rollercoaster!), but the experience will definitely be worth it, I promise!

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