We’ve asked Emily, one of our Peer Advisors, to reflect on her time researching and preparing an application for Study Abroad, and to share some advice.
Once you decide you want to study abroad, one of the first things you’ll do is research your preferred locations. This is an important and exciting task since it gives you the chance to research and plan your semester or year abroad as if it were really happening. This way, if your application is successful, most of your planning is already done for you. The application form will ask you to list your top 4 location preferences, with reasons why. This article will give some guidance on how to choose your locations, how to research, and how to write a strong application.
When it comes to choosing a location there are a few things to consider. First and foremost, you need to check where your department allows you to go as this differs depending on what you are studying at King’s.* Don’t be disheartened if your course does not offer your dream location. There will still be a range of places to choose from and you may end up going to a different and exciting location that you may have never considered otherwise.
It is also important to conduct further research into some of the logistical aspects before choosing. For instance, will you need a visa to study in that location? If so, it is important to check if there are conditions that need to be met to obtain your visa. When I was applying for my visa to go to Australia, it was a requirement to have a certain type of health insurance and to have had my COVID-19 vaccine. Conditions like this are important to check before choosing your locations as you don’t want to apply for a location you wouldn’t be allowed to go because of visa complications.
Another element to research is transportation options in your chosen location. Are you going to a rural area where you might need to drive? Alternatively, you might be planning to go to a city with lots of transport links, but you need to factor in the expense of a travel card. Including such information on your application helps to show that you’ve taken the time to research your chosen location thoroughly.
When I was applying to go abroad, I found it helpful to approach my research as if I was already there. What questions would you want answering if you woke up in that location one day? Taking time to find answers to such questions can sometimes illuminate which location would be best suited to you. I remember considering things like accommodation costs in different locations, how long would it take me to get to campus, and what pastoral support was on offer at the universities. Consider googling the different academic staff who teach at the universities on offer to you and see if they specialise in an area you are interested in.
Don’t forget that it’s important to research the cost of living in the different locations that you’re interested in. You can do this by reaching out to students living in those locations now via the Global Mobility Office or by researching this online. Luckily, when I did this, I found that there wasn’t much disparity in the costs which made the decision easier, but you may find that some locations are more student budget-friendly, making them a more appealing option to you. Completing detailed research like this helped to clarify my decision about where I wanted to go, and it also helped to write a more detailed application too.
Completing the research into logistics, academics, lifestyle, funding, travel and support services is a great way to get a better feel of what the locations have to offer. Learning more about your potential destinations in this way will give you a better idea about where you want to study abroad.
It can be overwhelming to decide where you want to go when planning your exchange, but hopefully this article has given you some pointers to streamline your research. It’s helpful to keep in mind that you will have a fun and exciting time wherever you end up going even if it wasn’t your first choice.
Good luck with your research and remember that the world is your oyster!
* You can find the destinations options, listed by department, here on the Study Abroad website.