Last week, I went to the Study Abroad Fair – I was expecting it to be pretty bland: a row of stalls manned by officials from different universities, telling me why I should apply, and what exactly I needed to do to be among the next  wave of students off abroad. There were a few course-specific stalls, sure, with staff directing students to a “really useful online search tool” for opportunities, but the back of the hall contained a cluster of student-manned stalls, where I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by students speaking so enthusiastically and honestly about their experiences, and how they were immensely proud of the challenges they overcome, on their adventures abroad.

Of them, America’s had to the biggest, although Europe’s stand could barely fit all of their leaflets on their table.  Canada, Hong Kong and South Korea’s distinguished SNU had their own tables, and so did the far away Australia and New Zealand. All of these opportunities offered a selection of 2nd year semesters abroad and summer schools – you could even choose to do a combination! With so many countries represented, it was reassuring to know that all of these international universities teach their exchange students fully in English. Yet, this isn’t just an option for 1st year students; current second years, there is still the chance to apply for an international summer school between 2nd and 3rd year!

Of course, one of Liverpool’s biggest and most exciting opportunities is the Year in China, which of course, took up a large proportion of the fair, all on its own. Although it is not essentially a course-specific option (unless you study some specific courses, then you could take your Year 2 at XJTLU), one of the student representatives mentioned the opening to take some classes directly related to what you are currently studying here, in Liverpool. Also, don’t be intimidated by the thought of having to study Mandarin, at least not intensively! It was a recurring assurance that there is a choice as to how much time you want to spend studying the language, and that after a certain point, it becomes optional.

The experiences that these ambassadors talked of were not limited to the predictable change in studying environments, schedules and testing methods, but boasted much richer encounters; the initial challenge but simultaneous excitement when meeting new people, seeing new sights and developing far more confidence, returning to the UK as more worldly individuals. 

Costs will vary, obviously, but it is useful to know that you can apply for a travel grant through Student Finance England that should cushion the financial blow. Also, make sure to find out if you can apply for other scholarships and bursaries online.  Check it out! Think about how good your CV might look with a summer school, semester abroad or Year in China in it. 

Make sure you don’t forget about this – put it in your calendars!  Study Abroad 101 sessions happen every Wednesday in Seminar Room 1, 2pm-3:30pm, in the Life Sciences building. Go and have an adventure!

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