Study abroad

Study abroad – 8 things to consider.

At some point in our life we’ve all been asked the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, the answers to these questions may vary through out your life… It certainly has throughout mine. When I was younger I wanted to be anything from a pilot to a writer and a photographer… And look at me today! Ha! I might not be in control of a plane but I’m very often a passenger of one!
After spending a year in Sydney, in 2013 I decided to study a intense diploma of Photo imaging at CATC. I don’t regret my choice for a second because it brought me so many experiences and opportunities that I believe I would’ve missed out on if I studied in Sweden.
However, I do know what a tough decision it can be, so to make things a bit easier for you I’m going to supply you with some first hand tips on things to think about if your dream is to study abroad…

1. Doing your research.

This is the most important part of your decision.
Do your research about the country, the culture, the food and the city that you got your mind set on, if possible try to visit the country before making the major decision of going ahead with your dreams.

world map
2. Country and city
You’re going to spend a large amount of time hanging around in this city so you want to make sure it’s the best one for you and that it supplies you with the best opportunities possible.
If you’re looking into studying a fashion degree, New York or Italy would be a better option for you than for example Canada. However, if you want to become a ski instructor or wild life photographer then Canada would be the better option.
The point is to not pick a location for the location only, and not to pick an education for the education only. Both things play a major part in whether or not you’ll get the most out of your time studying abroad.

“Don’t pick a location for the location only, and don’t pick an education for the education only.”


3. The School and Degree
It’s very important to research the school, see if you can find former students reviews about the school and the degree and speak to a student counselor if possible. Research different schools and degrees that might suit you as well and create a pro’s and con’s list of your options.

Pick something that you can use wherever you go. For example, if you want to study something like law your studies will only be valid in the country in which you received the degree. If you’re like me, a traveler, then you’d want to pick something that you can get use of anywhere you decide to place your suitcase.

4. The future
Thinking about the future is hard! Things to consider will be such as job opportunities, possibilities and wages.
I would say, pick an education that you will value in the long hall, if you’re going to pay for these studies you want to make sure that it’s going to be well worth the money and that no matter the outcome you will always treasure the experience!
Extra tip: Go for your passions it won’t steer you wrong.

5. The language
Do you speak the language of the country you want to study in?
If the answer is yes then sweet!
If the answer is no, consider your choice and if you still want the challenge then prepare for it. Learn as much of the language before you go and bring a pocket dictionary that you can keep with you for the first period of time. You will thank yourself when you’re in the middle of the city busting for a bathroom but don’t know how to ask for directions.

6. The fees and loans

This is my least favourite on this list… But, unfortunately, it needs to be taken under consideration.
If your citizenship is with a country that does not provide funding help then you might have to take a loan to cover your expenses. Take a look at scholarships for the country or degree you’ve decided to study within, if you have received good grades in the past this could be your saviour!

Whatever your decision, make sure to save a lot of money before you go and if it turns out you can’t seem to afford to study a full degree abroad then it could be worth checking out a degree with a school in your home country which will let you do part of your studies abroad.

7. Getting a part time job
Since studying and living abroad can be quite expensive, a lot of people tend to keep a part time job. This is also a way to meet people outside of the university.
Research your options and find out how many hours of work you’re allowed when studying.

I was lucky during my year of studying in Sydney, since I had worked there for a year before deciding to study it was possible for me to manage my schedule quite freely. I was able to work during the time I had off and could take time off if the study load got too heavy.
It may be hard to establish these connections before arriving to a new country, but with some experience within hospitality, retail and/or freelance jobs you will most definitely be able to sort out a part time job after arrival. Just make sure you can handle it with a full time study load.

8. Where and how do you want to live?

There’s many options to consider when deciding where to live during your study time. Here’s some of them:

  1. Homestay
    In a homestay you live with a local family in their house, you usually still need to pay rent but will often receive privileges such as home cooked meals and a in-house laundry machine.
    Living with a host family is a great option if you tend to get homesick easily or want to learn the language.
  2. Live in nanny
    As a live in nanny you usually work as a babysitter during your time off. Sometimes you get payed for your work and sometimes your pay is accommodation and food, it usually depends on the work load.This is a great option if you’re looking to work alongside studying but don’t have a lot of time on your hands/ prefer a more free schedule.
  3. Shared flat
    You can find a room in a shared flat once you arrive on the location, sometimes the university can help you find one if you ask. Having your own room in a flat will give you a lot of privacy and freedom but it can also be a bit isolating when you’re in a country in which you know no one. 
  4. Shared room
    Another option is to share a room with another person. This will be cheaper but can also be difficult at times. If you decide to go for this option, make sure to do a matching with the person you’re going to live with before moving in to make sure you’re compatible.
  5. Campus housing
    If your university offers rooms on campus, they will most likely be quite pricy but will give you the safety of having the university backing you up. This can be a great option for the first part of your studies to get to know people.

As you can tell there’s a lot of things to consider when making your decision. All the research done and all the things taken under consideration will set you off to a good start and will help you focus on studying and exploring once you get there!

Have you studied abroad and want to add something to this list or do you have any further questions? Let me know in the comments!

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