Critical advice if you’re thinking about studying abroad

There’s a lot to think about

You’re in second year and probably finding the workload way harder than you expected.

Hold up – take some solace in the fact that you can go abroad in third year. It’s one of those rare times in your university career that you actually have freedom to choose. You can put down your glass of wine, stop crying into your textbook and try to decide where you’d like to study.

It’s not an easy decision to make as there’s a lot of factors to take into consideration so here’s a compilation of things you should think about first.


Think about your budget. First thing’s first, factor in the cost of your flights. For places like Australia and the US, the price of flights will obviously be a lot more expensive so you might not be able to afford any visits back home. Then there’s also the cost of basic living – I am currently studying in Oslo, Norway and it’s almost £4 for a loaf of bread. Commodities like this really add up so don’t just overlook them. Don’t let money be the deciding factor for where you choose to study, though, because there’s always ways of getting extra money – for example, through the Erasmus Grant, through SAAS and bursaries. If you’re living in the capital city then food and accommodation will be more expensive so you have to decide if you have the funds for that.

If you’re studying outside of Europe then you tend to get asked to provide proof that you can afford to study abroad. If you’re studying inside of Europe then this isn’t asked so you might want to begin to budget – you don’t want to be in the position where you’re selling your kidney to be able to afford your next slice of toast.



Party pooper alert – studying abroad isn’t all about the parties and the social aspect. After all, you’re there to study. For me, I gave the biggest weight to this when deciding where to go. Scraping a pass won’t be enough at this stage of your university career. What you do in third year will also help you to decide what topic you want to write your dissertation on, so make sure it’s something that you won’t mind writing about come fourth year.

Your CV

Are you going just because it looks good on your CV? If yes, then this is fine but maybe you don’t need to spend so much time comparing places.



Do you want to go for one semester or two? A lot of people have said that one semester was too short because by the time they had settled in and learnt a bit of the language, they had to come home.


Is there somewhere that you have always wanted to go? Maybe you could use this year to tick some countries off of your bucket list. If you’ve always wanted to see Scandinavia then maybe study in Sweden and take trips to Norway and Finland, for example.



Do you want to learn a new language? When I was choosing to study abroad, there were certain places that you couldn’t go if you didn’t speak the language. But apart from that, we really had free reign on which of the partner universities we chose. If you want to delve into the culture of your host country and learn the language then maybe don’t choose somewhere culturally similar to the UK. I know someone that did his year abroad in Australia and,although he had the time of his life, he wished he picked somewhere that he could really have immersed himself in a different way of living.

Social life

The social aspect surrounding study abroad is one of the more important things, so try to look up societies at the potential host university to see if they coincide with your interests. Maybe look up the legal age to buy alcohol or getting into clubs if you really want to take advantage of nights out.


Speak to people who have done it before

You can email the International Exchange Officer all you want but they’re only going to be able to tell you logistics. If you want to really know what a place is like to study in then try to talk to somebody who has already been. Before I went to Oslo, I contacted the International Exchange Officer at my university and she put me in contact with two guys who were currently doing their third year at the university I was going to. I got the scoop on the best halls to stay in, the cheapest places to eat, where’s good on a night out and how to navigate the transport system.


Erasmus can be quite competitive and sometimes it’s a case of people with better grades are the ones that get accepted. It’s second year and you’re beginning to realise that your lax first year attitude won’t cut it anymore. Nine am lectures are painful enough as it is without being the one that turns up still half-drunk in the previous night’s clothes. There’s still time to turn it around, though – as long as you change your mind-set from “I’ll wing it” to “I’ll get it done” then you put yourself in as good a position as anyone.