All the reasons why applying to study abroad is just not worth it
Not even worth it for the insta
First year comes with a wealth of opportunities that range from more gentile things such as clubs and societies, running for committees and housing for the following year, to more substantial things like 'Do I change country for 4 months?' I’ve listed some reasons on why you should save the trauma and not apply to study abroad…
The lack of information
From the get-go of my university career I was going to study abroad. I had no idea how it worked, or where I had to go to apply but I was absolutely set on the experience to gtfo of the UK. Uni ran events like 'How to Apply' and 'What to Pack' but didn't actually lay things out bluntly. They leave you to your own devices to find out how to work student finance, visas and how much it all actually costs. Like, we’ve barely moved out, give us some help before you shove me abroad! This was the first red flag for me, if they didn’t know where to access the information, do they know anything about my host uni?
The actual application
So you have the meetings, the paper work, the online application and the host uni applications. You rank your top three host schools, list what you like about them and write a specific, mini personal statement based on the research you’ve done on the schools. This takes an exceptionally long time and it haunts you as something with another deadline on top of all the other work you’ve got going on. You don’t even know if you’re going to get in but there you are, writing about how much you like a campus with trees in a 300-word statement.
If and when you get a place you have the paperwork which, surprisingly, is slightly different to the application. Here you have to find your academic transcript (took me three emails and almost spending £20 to get it – I did dodge that bullet though), financial support evidence and an academic profile form. These involve your parents sending proof they have $8,000+ in their banks to cover you if you back out, stamps from the uni to confirm your grades, on top of you listing which modules you want to take. Doesn’t sound that bad right? There’s more…
The impact on your bank account
What wasn’t explicitly said at all in any meeting or email was the exact cost of the scheme. There is a tiny additional detail on the website that says £9,000 per semester, however in meetings this is always said to be covered by loans and bursaries. American living includes a compulsory meal plan; this alone for 4 months is roughly $2,000. If I spent that much on food I’d be sponsored by Tesco. I have no idea how much they expect me to eat but considering I only eat pasta and bread it’s not that much. To make matters worse, friends I know who have done schemes at other unis for a year abroad only paid £1,000. Liverpool, something seems wrong??
The Visa interview application
On top of the £9,000 you’re expected to pay (did I mention that doesn’t include flights?) you have to get a Visa appointment, travel to London and pay for the meeting. This is over £200. If you can get a visa it takes up to 6 weeks to process which means you have 4 weeks to organise yourself, if you get the grades. Again, how people have done this successfully baffles me.
You don’t know if you get a place to study abroad until August, but you have to sort second-year housing by the December before. See, the crossover isn’t quite right. The awful struggle to find a temporary fill-in housemate leaves you with only two other options: you pay the rent on top of all the other costs, or you move back to halls. There’s uncertainty in any of those situations, but imagine coming home, all your mates are living together, and you get invited over for tea so you can visit their gaff, a new gaff that doesn’t have a space for you. That’s heartbreak.
This one is personal experience, and I’m the first one to admit that my bitterness makes my opinion a bit skewed, but the devastation of doing all the work and getting in to only find out the financial aid that was suggested doesn’t cover a lick of what’s needed is sore. Like really, really sore. It was one of the shortest phone calls I’ve ever had. “Just wanted to confirm if £9,000 is really the average cost?” “Yes.” *hangs up*
Don’t worry though; if you’re still interested, and you have a bank of mum and dad, that should sort some of you out!