Me again! So advanced warning for anyone not currently applying to study abroad from Glasgow- this post isn’t going to be about how great Connecticut is or what I’m doing here. On the plus side, if you’re currently drowning in application prep in Glasgow whilst also trying to balance exam revision, it’s probably for you!
So in retrospect, the biggest issue I had whilst applying to come abroad was that I was overthinking the entire process and stressing out. What I needed was for someone to sit me down and go through the application stage by stage so that I could get some sort of a general idea of what to write from someone who had applied successfully. Obviously nobody had the time to do this with me and nobody can do it for you guys now, but seeing as I’m here, I’m going to give it a go. If there’s anything I miss though, just drop me a wee facebook message!
Given that I’ve had a few emails about course matching –and also because it’s my least favourite thing in the world- I figure here’s a good place to start. Depending on your degree field, course matching is either going to be a pretty quick thing for you or quickly become the bane of your life. The best way I found to go about course matching was through the host University’s course catalogue which you can generally find by literally googling ‘*partner name* course catalogue’ or ‘*partner name* course finder’. From there it’s literally a case of going through the partners and comparing course descriptions until you have something you’re happy with. It’s also worth being on pretty good terms with your subject advisor at this point, remember they get the say in whether or not your course match is okay and whether or not you can go abroad, so nice emails and a smile is definitely not a bad idea!
(Civils, I found an alright course match for UBC, Toronto, UConn, Texas and Illinois- feel free to take a look at those.)
Ah yes, my three page budget plan… For this section the study abroad team want to know that you’ve really considered how expensive this year could be, so the more detailed (and interesting) the plan the better. Remember that you won’t just be paying for food and board, it’s easy to forget how the little things add up- books, stationery, toiletries, eating out, travelling… I literally included everything in my plan- I potentially went a little overboard, but given that the applications are done on a points based system I wanted to be getting the maximum number of points I could out of something that I personally considered easier than the other more wordy sections.
The Supporting Statement
Obviously the supporting statement comes in sections, so I’ve split up the sections here and tried to give you a basic idea of what they might be looking for in each section and a few examples of situations you might have found yourself in that could be useful.
‘Why do you want to participate in the programme and why have you chosen these host organisations?’
-Even though this is the first question and you’ll be super keen to tell Seonaid how perfect you are for study abroad, this is the only section that asks you about which host organisations you want to go to; personally I’d concentrate on these. Obviously don’t ignore the first section but try to be concise and show off all of the research you’ve done on the places you want to go. I found mentioning a few pros and cons of each of my choices was good as it showed that I was aware of the negatives that I could face while I was away.
‘Describe your prior relevant experience (travel or other) and how has this developed your cultural awareness?’
– This could literally be anything. I think they just want to know that you are capable of coming to another country and respecting the culture and way of life of the place you are in. An obvious example of this then is travelling, but you could also talk about any sort of cultural groups closer to home that you have perhaps been involved in that have made you more aware of the different cultures surrounding you.
‘Describe a time when you’ve had to adapt quickly. How did you do this and what did you achieve?’
-Again this is very much up to you to find an example yourself, but any time that you have perhaps made the best of a bad situation- again an easy example could probably be found from travel but even a bad exam, a stressful time in your life that you’ve had to complete tasks or maybe a time when you’ve had to deal with a rapid change of plans…?
‘Describe a time when you have analysed and solved a problem and/or obstacle? How did you do this and what did you achieve?’
– When you study abroad you need to appreciate it won’t always be sunshine and travelling, you need to be able to cope even when it’s snowing, dark and you miss home. You also have to be pretty organised and on top of stuff yourself -nobody is telling you when your deadlines are for submissions and applications overseas. This question is a chance for you to show off both aspects of yourself. Maybe you get stressed but you know you can use sport to chill out? Maybe you have been part of a group that did something or you helped to organise an event? Anything that shows you are capable of thinking on your feet and organising yourself is perfect!
‘Can you relate your extracurricular activities to the key skills and qualities required for a student on this programme?’
-Nearly finished! So this is really your chance to tell everyone how great you are and why you should get to go. The only thing I would say is don’t just list. You are far better having a few examples and explanations of why they would make you a good candidate that a list of achievements. For example being in a football team or orchestra proves that you get on well with others and thrive in a group environment, a position of authority either in a sports club or even back in high school proves that you are responsible and therefore capable of managing yourself independently whilst abroad.
Anyway, that’s pretty much all I’ve got in terms of application advice. In other news, Donald Trump got elected and I’ve come on Thanksgiving Break to Puerto Rico, so as you’re all struggling away with your applications America is going steadily more and more insane and I’m drinking coladas out of pineapples… Good luck everyone!