I have been receiving many questions about the content and structure of the application for studying abroad. Therefore, I will dedicate this blog post to give you some tips!
- Understanding and Motivations
In the written application it is very important to show what makes you special and stand out from the crowd. Ask yourself why you deserve this spot and what you want to achieve from this opportunity.
- Research and Resources
It is difficult to evenly focus on your 3 different choices. I would recommend focusing on your first choice, so the University of California. Then in my last paragraph I discussed my last two choices: British Columbia (UBC) and New South Wales (UNSW). It is difficult to still pull out some reasonable arguments as you try to give everything for your first choice… but maybe those campuses have something special too!
The exchange programme wants to see that you have conducted lots of research and are aware of what you will face at the destination. Additionally, you should use this research to show how much the university of your choice suits your interests and personal development. You could link this to your future aspirations and goals.
It is also important to emphasize the academics because at the end of the day you are going study abroad for a year. You could mention specific courses you are interested in and show why or how they may contribute to your field of studies. Some people may also wish to discuss any interest in current research or a specific professor you may have heard of.
You can also discuss other aspects of the university or location that may complement your interests. For example, I wrote about the research I had completed about the field hockey team, living in student cooperative housing and the honours society of psychology.
Here is the website of the different associations at Berkeley:
- Representing the University of Glasgow
Describe how you have portrayed commitment and active involvement at your home new university. For example, if you play in any sport teams, were a GUSA fresher’s helper or have a position in any GU association. Have you received any special wards from university or were a student representative. Do not just list your activities but try to explain what you have learned from this and how you may apply these skills.
- Prior relevant experience
Show your previous experience that makes you equipped for stepping out of your comfort zone and studying in a new campus in a different continent. You may have lived abroad, taken a gap year, volunteered or done an internship. In addition, your roles at GU may have also prepared you for this experience. Nevertheless, you may also be someone that has had little experience. Yet, don’t let this make you doubt yourself! You can use this in your favour by emphasizing your urge for exploration and development.
The Budget plan serves to show how well you have researched and prepared for your study abroad year. The exchange programme wants to make sure that you are aware of the costs and are able to pay for these.
It is important that you show that you have conducted plenty of research and specify from where, for example talking to a SASA, reading any blogs (!!) and returned student abroad reports, looking universities’ websites.
You have to make a budget plan for each campus. So if you are applying for California you will have to make a plan for each of the 3 campuses and your two other choices. Also, remember the more detailed it is the better you have prepared, so you could also include a back up plan/option.
As you are writing your budget plan do not just put down numbers, it should also include your motivations, interests and arguments – use this to show your research and how well the location fits to YOU.
Suggestions of what aspects to include in your budget plan:
- Food and drinks
- Telephone credit
this is quite expensive here. I am at AT&T and pay $30 a month only for unlimited texts and calls (no internet).
- Books and supplies
at the beginning of each semester you have to buy quite a lot of books. It is important to keep up with the assigned reading here. You can find most of the books in the library but you can usually only check them out for 2 hours. It is a lot of money (I spent $160 on a new book this semester!) but you can also find them at Amazon, facebook free & for sale or in the second hand bookstore. I did not buy all of the books, but the ones I did buy I will try to sell at the end of the semester to get some money back.
- Other personal expenses (pocket money)
- Visa: £300 (this is paid in separate steps, not all at once)
- UCB Health Insurance: £850 http://www.uhs.berkeley.edu/students/insurance/SHIPEnrollment.shtml
- Plane Ticket (Return): £800
(depends on how you fly, I have a friend who flew from Amsterdam
STA has an open return option
- Extra Travel within USA
I’m living in the international house (Ihouse) – an international hub offering lots of social and intercultural events. This is a great place to live – very good location, meal plan but a little higher end of the price scale. I know that there is also an Ihouse in San Diego.
My initial wish was to live in one of the coops. These are low cost cooperative student houses that radiate the liberal and culturally-diverse atmosphere of Berkeley. It’s the real Berkeley life! Be aware that here you will also have a work shift during the week – like cooking, cleaning or keeping the house pretty. The coops are very popular so I unfortunately did not get a place, yet I did have a back up option planned beforehand. There are also coops in Santa Barbara!
There are also dorms where you could live with a meal plan included. They are nice but a lot less active and creative as the Ihouse or Coops.
You can also try finding your own apartment or a flat share. Do not live this for the last minute though as it can get very stress while you are sorting out your courses, finding your way around campus and making friends.
Check out https://sfbay.craigslist.org
More information about housing in Berkeley:
P.S Remember that it is normal here to have roommates!