Hey everyone, long time no post! Thought it’s about time to check in with ya’ll, as I’ have some great news!
Remember that study abroad program I began telling you about? Well, it’s happening! I have been officially accepted to study at University of Sussex in Brighton, UK! I will be embarking on this fabulous adventure in late January and will study for a whole semester there. Strangely (or not), most of my thoughts are about travelling and seeing England, not studying. Hopefully I’ll remember my 4 classes when I’m there.. ;) I will use this site as a blog space to keep track of all the things happening and posting some photos, so stay tuned!
The process of applying, interviewing and getting some paperwork approved took a while – since about Spring. My choice fell on a full-on university exchange in the UK because I chickened out about the language barrier (second choice was France), and after a summer trip to London I am realizing that I won’t regret this decision. The application process was fairly easy – all it took was an essay and a short, informal personal interview with the Study Abroad director. After that, a couple weeks of waiting and ta-da, I’m in! I was surprised at how easy it was to get in – apparently all it took is a thought-through essay to show that I am serious about going abroad and have done my research. After that, I signed a contract that obligated me to pay whatever fees come and submitted an actual application to University of Sussex. According to Mike, the Study Abroad director, that was just a formality, since UW has an exchange agreement with Sussex and I’ve been accepted already. Phew! After that it was just a long, long wait until I got an official letter of acceptance from Sussex. Now I’m moving on to the next couple of phases – applying for a visa and arranging housing.
Study Abroad Program Options
From what I saw, there were several options to choose from at UW. All study abroad programs broke into three categories: exchanges, faculty-led programs and affiliated programs.
- Faculty-lead programs are themed and planned out by professors at UW. Basically, you sign up, pay a certain fee and go. The classes are set, you are with the same group of students and professors the whole time and your day schedules are known from the time of application.
- University Exchanges are much more liberal. Here universities switch students: 4-5 UW students go to Sussex and Sussex sends 4-5 people to UW for a semester or two, whatever they choose. In my case, we have a group of 4 girls from different majors going for the same amount of time. In this case, I will be studying at Sussex as if I am a Sussex student, taking regular classes and all, all the while getting my usual number of credits from UW. If I take any specialized classes needed for my major, they will get transferred later. I am just going to pay my regular tuition and housing fees, as if I am studying at UW.
- Affiliated Programs: these are based on independent programs and are usually for a higher fee. As in the case of faculty-lead programs, the schedules are all planned out and you know what your group will be doing, everything is very well structured. You can also choose the programs based on your area of interest. The only downside I saw in this option is the super high fees, but I guess everything pays off in the end because the food and living accommodations are included in that fee.
For most students participating in an exchange, like moi, there is a visa requirement. Since it’s not just a touristy activity, but you’ll actually be living and eating and sleeping and studying in a foreign country, it is required that you have a student visa. I will provide examples based on the UK visa processes, as it’s the one I am most familiar with.
Since I personally will be going only for 5 months, I am applying for a short-term study visa. This type of visa is needed if you are going for up to 6 months and not planning on working while studying. I figured this is the best fit for me, since I want to use all my time soaking in the student life at Sussex instead of working. The Tier 4 visas, both child and general, are for international students studying and living in the UK for more than 6 months. This type of visa gives you the opportunity to work as well. These are the main differences for the UK visas as I understand them, so keep your fingers crossed for my application!
That’s about it for now. Next step is to mail in all my documents to the English consulate in New York and reserve a place to live in at Sussex :)
Thank you for everyone’s patience! Happy Thanksgiving for those living in the States and for those who don’t, stay strong – it’s almost the weekend!