Now that the craziness of the first weeks abroad has calmed down a bit, I thought it would be interesting to tell you about how I got the opportunity to study abroad in the first place. It is a rather uncommon story, that it does not just follow the two classic steps: ‘I applied’ and ‘I got it’.
First of all, when I first talked to my department and expressed my interest in spending a year abroad, I have been told that I would not be able to apply. This was because the application was open to BA Politics, BA IR and BA Politics and IR students only. Joint degree students, unfortunately could not apply. Thinking I might stand a chance to apply under the School of History, I went and asked them as well, but I have been told that the study abroad options that they have are open only to students who, ‘administratively’ – to put it in their exact words, belonged to the School of History. I was in the second semester of my first year when all these took place, and as a student who has started university extremely enthusiastic about the idea of studying in a different country at some point during the course, you can imagine the disappointment that came with these conversations. Over the months that followed, I kept asking various members of staff in both departments, hoping that at some point someone would tell me I can apply.
And it happened! To my amazement, at the beginning of my second year I received an email from the Erasmus coordinator in the Department of Politics, in which he was stating that the department informed him that I am interested in studying abroad, and that they have made it possible for the IR & History students to apply. Following this email, I met him and discussed what universities and countries I could choose from and what I need to do next.
I must admit that I am still surprised to how responsive the university and the department have been to my request. I didn’t make any formal complaint about not being able to apply – I just let people know that I would really like to do it, and that was enough for them to make the necessary arrangements in order to accommodate my request. I don’t know how other universities work, but I do believe that most of them are not just as responsive to students. I think Leicester Uni is particularly good when it comes to this.
So my advice to you would be, if you really want to do something, ask for it. There is no guarantee that the department will be able to do something to accommodate you request, but most of the times they will try their best. In Leicester, all the university staff is so friendly and committed to making sure that students do get the best out of their time spent in the uni. So, by asking and trying, you really have nothing to lose.
Hope all of you are okay and, for those starting uni next week, well-prepared for Freshers’ week! 😉