I always knew I wanted to study abroad; it was one of the things I kept in mind when deciding what University I wanted to study at. The reasons why I wanted to study abroad were: I wanted to see how the university experience differs in another country, I’ve always wanted to travel but didn’t want to take a year out to purely travel so I thought studying abroad was the next best alternative and finally I wanted to delay my graduation because I wasn’t in a rush to graduate and join the workforce, instead I wanted to continue living in what I call the “student life bubble”.
When I was choosing where I wanted to study, I considered factors such as the cost of studying in that country (which you can find here: http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/international/overseas-exchange/outgoing/study-abroad/tuition-costs-scholarships ), the national language of the country, my curiosity for the country and also the ranking of the university (though it wasn’t a very important factor to me, it did aid me in decision making). After studying French for 6 years and not getting any closer to being fluent, I knew I did not have a knack for learning languages so I definitely didn’t want to study in a country where the national language wasn’t English. That narrowed down my choices by a lot and at the time I think I only had two Canadian universities, one Australian university and one American university left to choose from. Despite it being my dream to study in America, I didn’t choose the American university because the only choice I had was Texas and since I’ve already been to Texas and didn’t love it for many reasons, I really didn’t want to study there. I didn’t really have an interest in Canada and I was more curious about Australia because apart from shows like Neighbours, Home and Away, and Wanted Down Under, I didn’t know much about Australia and what it was like to live there. Moreover, not a lot of people I know have gone to Australia but they have a preconceived idea of what it’s like to live there (I was told many times that Australia is a racist country and everything over there can kill you) and I wanted to see if those things were true.
You can find out the places where you can study based on your department here: http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/international/overseas-exchange/outgoing/where-can-i-go/exchanges-by-academic-subject
The application process for me was quite simple. During my first and second year, I contacted my study abroad coordinator to let them know that I was interested and to find out what the process was like. In order for the department to allow me to go, I had to achieve the grade requirements although they were quite flexible about this. During my second year, I had to email my study abroad coordinator about my preferred destination and I had to change my degree programme to ‘Financial Economics with a Year Abroad’ through the registry. After my department allowed me to go, in my third year I was sent an application from the overseas university in February. The application was quite basic, it only asked for my personal details, the programme I was applying for and my academic transcript. I heard that I got accepted in May, though they said I would hear back in April. After that it was all about going through the acceptance process, paying for overseas health care, applying for a student visa, accommodation etc. Bear in mind that the process can differ based on your department and the university you are applying for.
The school year in Australia is quite different to how the school year is laid out in the UK. I think this is probably because their seasons are different to our seasons, in terms of when they occur. So the school year runs from January to December instead of September to August, therefore, if you study abroad for a year in Australia you may start the school year in July/August thus, will have to miss part of your summer to study in wintery Australia. That would be the start of Semester 2. Then you might have a long summer break from December to February like you would in the UK between June and August (typically), then start Semester 1 at the end of February. I also had a two-week mid-semester break in September and I will get another two-week break for Easter.
I hope this was informative and maybe helps you with your study abroad decisions.