Since I can remember, studying abroad was something I longed to do, something I felt I had to do and something that I was never going to let pass. To immerse myself within a different culture and way of life has been an opportunity that I longed for. I never wanted to just travel, I always wanted that little bit more, I wanted to live abroad. Today, I am living in England whilst I study abroad, I’ve tackled the first few months and still have a few more to go, and it is more than I had ever hoped for.
England for me had long been a destination I wanted to live in, sure, it isn’t entirely different to Australia. They speak the same language and they even have similar expressions, but living in the midst of the UK, you are exposed to so much more than you are in Australia. Before I had arrived in England to live, I never truly realised how closed minded and shut off Australia is compared to the rest of the world. I had been travelling since I was 7, so I had always viewed myself as open minded, but it wasn’t until I started living in a new place, did I realise that Australia is very selective on the news they show to their citizens.
Living in England, I have learnt more about the world than I ever did in Australia. Sure we have national news channels and radio channels that report on foreign affairs, but on an overall scale, Australia is so shut off from what is happening outside it’s borders. On main stream current affairs channels in Australia, all they ever report on is housing commission residents, pensioners and grocery stores all getting worked up about taxes, money and scams. There’s only so many times in a week that someone wants to hear about someone else’s neighbour not cleaning their front yard. The news in Australia is poor compared to news in other countries, something I never really noticed until I moved abroad, especially as I am studying Journalism.
I guess what I am trying to say, is that living abroad and away from what you know as comfortable, not only exposes you to new opportunities, but also exposes you to a new way of thinking and a new outlook on the world. I mean, I even a new perspective on my own country. Since being here, I have learnt that Australia is racist, something I always knew but never to the full capacity as I do now, but then I have also learnt that Australia is possibly one of the luckiest countries in the entire world, and I have grown a new found love for it.
Not sure if moving abroad to study is the right thing to do? Read on and I’m sure I’ll convince you.
My Mini Guide to Studying abroad
1. Know your Requirements
I had always wanted to study at an elite English university, but my home university didn’t offer this. Don’t get your heart set on a university until you know your home university partner with it. Also note your GPA and entry requirements. Just because you are in a university at home, doesn’t mean you automatically get accepted into every university in the world for an exchange program. Each international university also requires a decent GPA, you are not able to study abroad if you have a GPA lower than 2.5 (at least in Australia anyway). Look at the requirements on your university website, they will tell you what GPA you need, how many subjects you would of had to have done and any other important information you need to know.
2. Research what is out there
I didn’t straight away pick England. I always knew that England was a place I wanted to live, but before I made my final decision, I researched… lot’s. Before you research your options, you have to first know what countries and universities your university partners with, this should be on your universities website. I was looking into universities in Italy, but the ones my university partnered with didn’t offer subjects I needed to do in English – even though I am learning Italian now, I definitely do not know enough to sit in a class. Don’t make the mistake of picking a foreign university then come to realises you can’t understand anything they are saying.
3. You don’t always need accommodation straight away
I went over to England having no idea where I was going to live or who I was going to live with. I had no interest in living on campus, yet I wanted to live close enough to university and the local town (Colchester). I believe that you never truly know a place until you get there and have a feel for it, Google Maps can only take you so far. When I arrived in England, I used the site, “spareroom.com” to find a nice place, where I could rent out a room. I hopped around a bit, before I finally decided on a double bedroom, where I share a double story house with two English girls and an English Bulldog names Reggie. Don’t feel as if you need accommodation as soon as you are accepted into your exchange program, because you sure don’t and there is plenty of time to shop about.
4. You will make life long friends
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little concerned about not making any friends and having to live out my days lonely and miserable. I know that this is a very poor and unhealthy way of thinking, but my first time living out of home coupled with living in a different country, it was only natural to feel this way. I can whole heartedly promise you though, you will make friends that you know are going to be life long friendships, even if it is meeting up every 5 or so years. I have met some of the most amazing, inspirational and friendliest people on my time over here. I never knew friendships like this until I met the girls I met on my exchange program. We have weekly bachelor nights (as in watching the TV show), weekends away to different countries, nights out, study time, lunches…. the list could go on.
5. You will grow more knowledgeable
Like I mentioned before, I was very closed to the rest of the world back in Australia. Maybe that’s because we are so isolated over there, and naturally from this we as a whole are trapped in our own little bubble of happiness. I’ve found that living out of Australia for the first time, I feel a lot closer to terrorism, and I feel like I am apart of the world and more imbedded into it. This may be just how I am viewing it, but being here I have grown more aware than I have ever before about the world and it’s current state. Not only this, but the people I have met, I have learnt so much about them and about their country and way of life just through general conversations and slang debates.
6. Travel opportunities
Speaking on behalf of Australian’s, for us to travel anywhere it is a hefty amount of money in itself, and we can never just quickly hop across the border to France or Spain for a long weekend. Being only hours away from the some of the most beautiful places in the world, I have not wasted a moment booking cheap airfares to countries I have not yet been too. Im forever telling my room-mates, “I am off for a few nights,” because I just cant resist. Living close to Europe, has opened me up to so much more – in the travel sense – than being in Australia ever has, and this is something everyone is able to experience if they put there mind to it. P.s. you are lucky if you already have this opportunity without having to move abroad.
Have I convinced you yet? Experiencing study and life in a new country does wonders for your personal growth and outlook on life. Not only do you make connections and friendships around the world, but you also are able to strengthen yourself and learnt be independent, open-minded and feel as though the world is at your feet. Even though during the weeks you are tied down to school work and assignments, having a solid group of friends and knowing that in a few days you are off to a new country, doesn’t make the study so bad after all.
Please comment with any questions you have about studying abroad.