This blog post will be a little different form my previous ones: as the deadline to apply for a year abroad draws closer, I will be focusing on giving tips on how to decide on a university. These ideas are by no means universal, but they do represent some factors I found helpful to consider when I was applying for my year abroad.
Picking a Destination
The first thing you need to do before you can start writing your application is obviously to pick where you want to go. With over fifteen options on three continents, the agony of choice is real. However, there are some questions you can ask yourself that may help you narrow down the options:
How far from home are you willing and/or able to go?
Distance is not just geographical, it is also cultural and psychological. Stepping out of your comfort zone and being somewhat daring is the key to having a good year abroad, but being realistic about the boundaries of your adventure spirit is just as important. You want to pick a place where you would be comfortable living, studying and making friends for a year, and making the distance from home a criterion in your decision is completely legitimate.
What cultural and academic environment are you looking for?
Reading this blog will have shown you that the destinations King’s offers for study abroad are vastly different: some universities are large, campus-based institutions, others are located in the centres of historic cities. One is not better than the other in any way, but they each come with their specific quirks. Where a metropolitan university might give you easy access to museums, shopping and historic buildings, a campus university might offer more athletic facilities or easier access to outdoor activities.
Similarly, all universities will vary in their teaching style. While some institutions tend to teach in small, interactive classes, others may teach in large lectures, but might in turn offer a broader range of courses to choose from. It is crucial that you try to get as much information on these important academic questions before you make your decision. Generally, people who have studied abroad and are now back at King’s are more than happy to share their insights with you, and you can always contact the authors on this blog, or ask the Study Abroad office to connect you with a former student at your destination of choice.
What’s your cost ceiling?
While you are all familiar with the tear-inducing cost of living in London, living abroad is not free, either. Try to estimate the cost of living in your destination, travel costs and money for activities during your year abroad to get an idea of what you are looking at financially, and seek out help to avoid nasty surprises on your wallet or bank account. King’s, as well as other organisations, awards study abroad grants, and Student Finance offers options for students studying abroad, so get informed and fill out all the necessary forms on time.
Don’t Focus on Just One University
While you may have your heart set on one particular place you absolutely, totally want to study abroad at, there is unfortunately no guarantee you will get a place. Try your best to find a few back-up institutions you think you would be happy spending a year at if your first choice does not work out. You have the choice between a range of amazing destinations, and I, along with all others who are currently studying abroad, can assure you that wherever you end up going, you will have a great time.
Please feel free to leave a comment or contact me at email@example.com if you’d like to ask me questions about the application process or studying abroad at UNC.