So firstly I’ll apologise in advance if this isn’t my most coherent blog, I’m writing it in the back seat of a 74 year old car driving down a Cuban highway-but we’ll get to that.
I know it’s been a while since I’ve updated you all on life Stateside. So much has happened! Friends from last semester have gone home, new friends have arrived, we’ve been to a log cabin in Maine, taken a weekend trip to Chicago and now we’re on Spring Break in Mexico and Cuba! It’s crazy to think that really soon I’ll be home and you’ll all be starting off on your own adventures. On that note, I thought I’d put together a few things that would have helped me before I left for anyone trying to get things organised in advance for their time abroad.
1- Start planning! It might seem like there’s not a lot that you can be doing to prepare for going away at the moment but believe me, when May comes round and you’re both mid exam as well as at the deadline for accommodation applications you’re going to wish you’d planned earlier. What you should be doing at the moment is researching the living daylights out of your destination. Where are you going to live? What will you eat? Do you have to choose what type of accommodation you’d like? A solid place to start with this research is on the website of your chosen institution or getting in touch with someone who’s been already. Look at the SASA’s, see where they are or post on the study abroad Facebook page. The people in the best position to answer any personal questions you may have about what campus life is really like is someone who’s been.
2- Save save save! There’s no way round this one, study abroad isn’t cheap. That’s not to say it can’t be affordable, but depending on where you’re going and what you want to be doing you’re probably going to find yourself spending a fair amount of cash. For this, honestly just save as much as you possibly can. It’s not a problem if you have spare money at the end, but the last thing you want is for your friends to be jetting off around the country you’re in when all you can afford is lunch and an afternoon in the library…
3- Get organised. It may seem daunting, but paperwork and visas are going to be an essential almost everywhere you go. You’re better getting this process started earlier rather than later so that you can beat the summer travel crowds. This is particularly relevant to anyone with summer travel plans who needs their passport by a certain date or anyone heading to the States as their Visa process is for lack of a better word- a nightmare.
4- Insurance. Another thing you can be thinking about is travel insurance. Depending on where you’re going and what you plan on doing there you could need a combination of health, travel and gadget insurance. It’s one of the few things that you’re not relying on an external body to make decisions or to post you paperwork for you to be able to make a start on, so if you’re keen to get organised you can tick that one off the list.
5- Apply to be a SASA! It’s a little known fact that the SASA’s actually get paid to represent the uni. If you’re into writing, speaking or passionate about sharing your experiences with others it’s the perfect way to do something that you enjoy whilst also getting that little bit of extra travel money. All you have to do is fill out an application and go to an interview, it’s super easy and definitely worth it! SASA applications should come out in April, so keep an eye on your inbox around then.
6- Research scholarships and bursaries. This is another fairly overlooked option. Depending on different factors such as your degree, financial status, ethnic group and gender, there are plenty of scholarships available both within and out with the university. Try writing letters to the national body of your degree (I.e. ‘The Institute of Civil Engineers’) and other big business people and see if they are willing to help to fund your educational experience. The university also has a lot of scholarships, many of which go largely unnoticed so keep checking your email and keep an eye out for them. You’ll be amazed how many people are willing to help if you ask.
Anyway, I’m off to enjoy the sun as much as I possibly can before I head back to snowy Connecticut, hope all is well in Glasgow, speak to you soon!