Why Study Abroad?
Many university courses offer both 3 and 4 year options. The 4 year option usually means that a sandwich year is on offer when students get to choose between doing a year studying abroad or a work placement for a year. This is usually during the third year of their studies.
Most UK universities have partnerships with other higher education institutions worldwide. This means students can ‘exchange’ between these two unis to experience uni life in a totally different place.
Some of the most popular locations for UK students to study abroad include Australia, the US and EU countries!
What are the benefits of studying abroad?
The benefits of studying abroad are endless, but we’ve given some of our top ones here!
Studying somewhere other than your home country for a year can help you see what’s out there in the world. You might learn a foreign language and customs, overcome challenges that you wouldn’t normally face whilst at home and appreciate how different the world is. Study abroad programs can be one of the best ways to gain a global perspective! In some cases, you might be able to study in two totally different locations!
You might choose to study abroad for a different style of education. The main differences between the UK and other international education systems include term timings, teaching style, the grading system and the atmosphere.
- Term dates: Whilst the UK operates a semester system, other parts of the world operate in trimesters or quarters. The US uses trimesters, whereas universities in Australia start their first term in February!
- Teaching style: This can vary dramatically from place to place. Some universities take a much more tutor-led approach, where you are in class 9-5 being taught from the front. Others are much more student-led or based on independent study, where you are responsible for your own learning. For most students, the pressure is off from needing to get good grades as some programmes are non-credit bearing, which means that students only have to pass a certain number of credits to pass the year as the module grades don’t count towards your overall degree.
- Grading system: You might just be getting used to the UK’s 1st, 2:1, 2:2 and 3rd grading system. But most countries across the world have their own grading systems. For example, the US uses a GPA system ranging from 0.0 to 4.0, Australia uses percentages and many countries in Europe use letters or random numbers!
- The atmosphere: US and Canadian universities are known for fraternities and sororities, which are groups on campus fostering a sense of belonging. Clubs and societies in different locations might vary significantly and the lifestyle could be more outdoors or indoors.
- Living situation: US college dormitories tend to be rooms for two people, whereas UK halls and accommodations, on the whole, are for individuals with shared amenities. In Australia, there are limited capacity on-campus halls for students, as a lot of Australian students commute from home. So you might find the halls are predominantly filled with international students.
- Costs: If you decide to study abroad at a university partnered with your own university, your tuition fees are going to be significantly less compared to paying for international fees to study as an international student abroad. You pay your sandwich year fees to your university as you would for a placement year.
They always say the best way of learning a language is practising it. You will be totally immersed in the culture and colloquialisms of the language so this will improve your fluency! And if you’ve got a module on an international subject, what better way than to see it for yourself! Who knows, you might like it so much, you decide to relocate there for the rest of your life!
Travelling is a lot of fun when you get to stay in a place and imagine yourself living there. It might also be a great way to pick up a new hobby! You might realise you love scuba diving whilst studying abroad in New Zealand or skiing in Tokyo.
Studying abroad for a year looks really good on your CV. It shows employers that you are independent, dare to challenge yourself and have the ability to adapt. Employers at multinational companies really value that experience which can make you stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs or opportunities later.
Studying abroad requires another level of independence. Whilst you might have moved away from your home town for university, studying abroad means that you might not have any family members in the country and you often only have yourself to rely on! This can have the effect of forcing you to gain experiences and independence that you would otherwise not have. You may need to learn how to cheer yourself up or motivate yourself on down days or secure a part-time job to fund your hobbies!
Cons of studying abroad
Visa: Relocating can be expensive and difficult. You’ll most likely need a student visa to study in a foreign country. Here are some rough costs of visa to popular locations for studying abroad (source: University of Leeds):
- Australia: from £330
- China: £185
- France: £115
- Germany: £90
- Singapore: £100
- US: £300
Some visa requirements mean that you have to undergo a medical examination or take out a specific insurance policy.
Cost of living: The cost of living is also another very important aspect to consider. Some cities are more expensive than others. We’ve gathered some financial indicators on some of the most popular locations:
- Australia: AUD$21,041 for 12 months (£11,984)
- China: 55,000 RMB for 12 months (£6,621)
- France: €1,000 per month (£835.54)
- Germany: minimum of €600-700 per month (£501-585)
- Singapore: S$10,400 for a year (£5,843)
- US: $68,474 USD for 9 months (£52,488)
There are a couple of ways to meet these extra costs. If you’re eligible for student finances in the UK, you should still have access to it in your study abroad year.
If you are a UK resident and studying at a UK university, you could be eligible for funding through the Turing Scheme which replaced the Erasmus+ scheme when the UK left the EU.
Some local charities work with individuals who might have problems funding a year abroad. For example, the Sir Philip Reckitt Educational Grant helps students in the East Riding of Yorkshire and Norfolk with travel and subsistence costs.
You’ll be immersed in a new culture, language and location. You might feel anxious and homesick for the first few months, but just remember that there are other students who are studying abroad where you are and you’re not alone! You might learn something new about yourself whilst facing these challenges; spending time by yourself in a foreign setting can push you to be a better you if you let it!
Due to time differences, it might be more difficult to maintain your friendships whilst studying abroad. Therefore, you might have to put in that extra mile in investing in the friendships that are valuable to you. Why not arrange for people to come and visit you or meet up in a nearby city for a weekend break?
Some students much prefer the way of living and learning in a foreign country and might not want to return home. Some also struggle to readjust to British culture. Time will make a difference, so just give yourself some time and leeway in finding that balance again.
There are loads more pros and cons to studying abroad in your third year that might be personal to you. But do consider various other factors including medical costs, travel, telephone and banking when looking into studying abroad.
Studying abroad won’t always be easy, but it will be rewarding, with most students reporting to have the time of their lives! So if you are undecided…. just go for it!
Have you studied abroad?