Your summer study abroad opportunity
Laura is a second year French and English student at King's College London. This summer, she'll be studying abroad at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on an exchange agreement from her university (meaning it's fee free!). As she is spending her year abroad as a British Council Language Assistant, this is her only chance to study abroad.
1. Study Abroad in the Summer?
You’ve probably already figured this out, but your university’s study abroad office is one of your greatest assets. It’s their job to send you abroad. They’re ready and waiting for applications all year round – and it’s more than likely that they’ll have international study opportunities available for you during the summer.
2. Destination Options
When I applied for my summer study programme, I had an unbelievable choice of institutions at my disposal. The UNC - Chapel Hill summer exchange is new to my university this year, but the two institutions have a long history of term-time exchanges and are strategic partners. My other options were equally as exciting – Brunei, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, China, Mexico... I was completely spoilt for choice.
3. The Application Process
- Internal application to my university’s study abroad office. This was quite informal - I listed three choices of destination and wrote about my reasons for applying.
- Acceptance (one day after I sent in my application). Rush to tell family and friends who didn’t even know that I’d applied!
- Online application to my host university (personal information for visa application and a personal statement)
- Receipt of host university e-mail and username log-in. Lots and lots of research (basically exam procrastination).
- Now awaiting my visa documentation!
As I write (in April), my university’s study abroad office is still accepting applications for institutions in India, South Korea, Taiwan, Brunei, China and Malaysia. So if you’re still deciding what to do with your summer, your university’s study abroad office could still have the answer.
4. How much will it cost?
Some of these programmes (including mine) operate as an exchange, which often means that you don’t have to pay tuition fees! Others may offer you a discount on fees due to your university’s term-time exchange agreements. Of the universities available to me, some were even offering free accommodation, or places in hostels for £1.50 a night. Other costs to consider will be visa applications, insurance, flights, and the cost of living in your destination. For example, American university accommodation is often lacking in kitchen facilities, as they push you towards eating in their on-campus canteens. Therefore, I’ve opted for private accommodation where I’ll definitely have a kitchen at my disposal, and so greater control over my food budget. Hello aerosol cheese sandwiches! The important thing to remember is that, in my case, there were definitely programmes available to suit all budgets. Also, make sure to check out your university’s funding pages for travel grants and bursaries.
5. Studying? In my holiday? I don’t think so…
Fair enough, it might not sound like the ideal way to spend your well-earned summer break. However, because summer study programmes don’t normally count towards your degree, you are likely to have free rein over your choice of courses. My degree is in French and English. I’ve chosen an American Literature module where one of the set texts is a comic book (!) and a sociology module on race relations, as there is no such module available to me in my degree. Furthermore, studying without academic consequences means that if you end up at a university that’s a bit disorganised, or you don’t enjoy the course you chose, it won’t have any effect on your degree. However, do check all the small print regarding your rights and responsibilities as an exchange student – the point is to learn, and dropping out of a course the day before the final exam may make you liable to pay fees.
6. Sound Good?
It would be silly to feel otherwise, but I’m ridiculously excited for my summer study adventure. If I hadn’t happened upon the right page on my university’s website (and only one day before the deadline) my summer would be looking very different. If you’re yearning for a study abroad experience without the academic pressure, a summer study abroad exchange is the perfect opportunity to experience a different academic culture, as well as the general way of life in your destination. It will also show future employers that you proactively sought amazing, fulfilling experiences during those long summer breaks. What’s stopping you?