How to prepare for overseas study
An increasing number of Australian university students are reaping the benefits of studying abroad, with more than 1,000 ACU undergrads heading overseas each year. However, preparing for the study trip of a lifetime can also be daunting. We share our tips to help make the process as smooth as an Airbus A380.
“I remember the day I left for Europe, I was overcome with feelings of worry and uncertainty that ultimately made me question why I decided to apply for the International Core Curriculum program in Rome … It took a while for me to find my footing however when I did, Italy and all the other countries I visited provided the perfect learning opportunity to hone essential life skills.”
ACU student Edward Bituin recounts his time studying in Italy on the Notes from Abroad blog. Dozens of other students who have participated in ACU’s overseas study programs have had equally positive experiences.
There is no doubt that studying overseas can provide students with a unique adventure, valuable life skills and a strong network that could eventually help them to forge international careers.
But for some students, the logistics of studying abroad can make it difficult to take that first step. What country do I choose? How will this affect my studies? How will I communicate in a foreign language? How will I afford it?
Fortunately, there is virtually no hurdle that can’t be overcome with a bit of forward planning.
ACU student Edward Bituin in Rome.
Why study overseas?
Students see overseas study as an opportunity to see the world, challenge themselves, make new friends and gain independence.
Not only can you travel without delaying your studies, you will also enhance your career prospects and potentially learn another language.
Universities Australia’s Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said the growing awareness in overseas study programs was paying dividends, with more and more Aussies studying abroad.
“Students are increasingly aware of the huge benefits for their education and career prospects,” Ms Robinson said.
If you’re considering studying abroad, it’s a good idea to plan early. Think about where in your degree you can fit in an overseas study experience. As a first step, speak to your course coordinator and check out the ACU International website.
Where should I study?
Once you’ve made the decision to study abroad, you might consider where you’d like to study. ACU has relationships with more than 200 universities and educational institutions in 40 countries, including many in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.
The Core Curriculum program is unique to ACU, offering a range of exclusive study abroad opportunities in Rome, Beijing, Paris and Leeds (UK).
Study tours and community engagement programs offer specialised, short term overseas experiences if you don't wish to do a full semester of study abroad.
Alternatively, if you’re after a longer experience, head overseas on exchange for a full semester and gain credit towards your degree.
Attending a session offered by the ACU International office will help students better understand the process of going abroad and include things like available grants and scholarships.
So, you've chosen a destination, done the legwork and been accepted. Where to next? It’s time to start saving!
On a traditional exchange program with one of ACU’s partner universities, you won’t need to worry about tuition fees to the host university.
However, you will be responsible for other associated costs and fees, including accommodation and living expenses, flights and travel expenses, passport and visa costs, travel insurance and other things like language courses.
Start saving early and budget for at least $1500 for each month of your overseas program.
To assist you with your costs, there are some funding opportunities available, so check them out and talk to ACU International to find out whether you may be eligible.
Research your destination and learn the lingo
There’s nothing worse than arriving at a new country and knowing next to nothing about its culture, geography, history, government and people. A little bit of research can go a long way and make your time studying abroad a richer, more meaningful experience.
If you know people who’ve visited your host country before, get some tips. Watch movies and read books about the country and its culture. Buy a guidebook and plan a weekend trip to discover some of the country’s tourist sites.
Better yet, enroll in a language course, download an app or listen to podcasts so you can start a conversation with locals. Even a few basic phrases can be a real icebreaker when you’re meeting new people overseas!
Time to pack
Type ‘packing for overseas study’ into Google and you’ll get thousands of detailed lists telling you what you need to pack for your trip. Almost all of them will contain these two words: pack light.
As a general rule, you should be able to fit everything you need into one checked bag, one small daypack and a small purse or satchel.
Make sure you know what the weather will be like so you can pack the right clothes. There’s probably no need for the North Face down jacket if you’re headed to a warm country in the middle of summer!
Most of what you need in terms of toiletries and bedding will likely be available at your destination, so take only what you need on the plane and for the first few days of travel.
A few comfort items from home (Vegemite, photos of family and friends on your phone) can help with the inevitable bouts of homesickness.
For more information about studying overseas during your ACU degree, visit the ACU International website.