The year abroad: it’s all in the preparation!

by Giorgio Montersino

This article was written by Matthew Hepburn, published on 4th April 2016 and has been read 2849 times.

Matthew is studying French and European Studies at Nottingham Trent University, and has applied for a year abroad. Here he shares some tips on research, paperwork, and how to prepare for his upcoming year abroad adventure...

This might seem a rather simple thing to say but, my one piece of advice to anyone going on a year abroad is to prepare early.

I’m studying French and European Studies at Nottingham Trent University and when I joined, my year abroad seemed ages away. But, boy was I wrong! I only have a few months left until I finish my second year of studies and head to France to begin my year abroad. And, I can say, preparing early, completing forms before I needed to, has without doubt helped me to stay less stressed over the prospect of moving to France in September. So what is my advice?

1. Research where you want to go.
My University has partner universities all over Europe, allowing us to have access to a big range of universities to choose from. No doubt, your university will too so get looking at where you could go. Do this early because it leaves you time to reflect and weigh up the pros and cons of each destination. Also, I used Google Maps to explore the area a little bit to get a feeling of what the place looks like.

2. Don’t be afraid to start looking early.
It means you can change your mind as many times as you want until you feel you’ve made a rational choice.

3. Fill in the forms.
For me, the forms I have filled in so far are somewhat complicated and that’s only two! So, again, I suggest start completing these as soon as you find out about them. If you’re told about them, see if you can make a start on completing the forms so that if anything goes wrong, you don’t understand something or you’re just a bit stuck, you won’t be panicking about getting the forms in on time.

The two forms which are important are called: Higher Education Learning Agreement Form which includes your details and your universities details as well as the modules you would like to do in the country you want to go to. Fill this out ASAP because it’s rather long and harder to understand and so, any mistakes can be ironed out. Also, this form can include some jargon such as ERASMUS CODES which I didn’t know anything about but I found a good website which allows you to find the Erasmus Code for your university and the other country’s university.

Once you’re on the website, click: FOR STUDENTS > UNIVERSITY FINDER > [select the country your university is in] > [type the town/city it is in] > [the university should be found] > [click the university and you will find all the information you need including Erasmus codes].

The other very important form is called the Erasmus Grant Form – the form needs to be submitted in order for your Erasmus money to be released. Fill out the form and include all the information it needs such as your bank details. Again, the earlier it is done, the lower the risk of anything going wrong and if it does, you have time to fix it.

4. Speak to people who have been to where you’re going.
This is really beneficial because it gives you an insight into what the place is like; the good and bad things etc. I’m quite fortunate to have a language assistant who is from the place I’m planning to go so, it allows me to chat with her as and when I have questions. But, another good idea is to get the email addresses of other students who have been on the year abroad and ask anything you’re unsure about or just to ask questions about the city/town.

I’ve been writing a blog about my preparations for my year abroad so feel free to have a look at it and follow :)

I wish you the best of luck.

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