When you talk to people who’ve gone on an overseas exchange, they all promise it’s the best thing you could ever do. And it probably will be – when you get there. But what most fail to mention are the one or two setbacks that occurred to them before they’d even gotten an acceptance into their overseas university. Here are five setbacks you might encounter when applying to study abroad.
YOU HAVE TO JUMP THROUGH ADMINISTRATIONAL HOOPS.
And by this I mean paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. As an exchange student hopeful, you’ll have to fill out a TON of applications. This includes goodies like home university applications, overseas university applications, module applications, enrollment applications, visa applications, permit applications and passport applications. Plus, you might even have to fill out bursary or scholarship applications if you’ve got that little extra something. Talk about being buried in paperwork!
The solution: It’s not a motivating part of application procedure, but it sure is needed to get your butt overseas. So, whip on some music, roll out your pen and get that paperwork done and dusted.
YOU HAVE TO COMPROMISE FOR POPULAR COUNTRIES.
Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States are all popular exchange destinations for English-speaking university students. The reason for this is a no-brainer – it’s just easier not to learn a new language.
So, to prevent heartbreak (and to shake it up a little), a lot of universities have a strict cap on the number of overseas universities you can select from these countries. Sometimes, you can only choose one of those countries to go to – and you have to put your chosen university from the given country as your first preference. Other times, you get a second pick, but your remaining university preferences can’t be from a high-intake country.
The solution: Compromise. Consider listing universities in low-intake countries which are similar or near the one you’re bursting to visit (think New Zealand instead of Australia). Sometimes studying abroad in a less popular country will teach you more than you ever expected!
YOU DON’T GET YOUR FIRST UNIVERSITY PREFERENCE.
Buckle up, because it happens. And when it does, there’s no dancing around the bush – it sucks. A lot. You never want to hear the why’s and how’s once you get the news (there were too many applicants, they’re not accepting exchange students from your field of study, blah, blah, blah). You just want to bury yourself in some classic ‘80s flicks and a couple of tubs of Ben and Jerry’s.
The solution: Breathe. Not getting your first university preference isn’t the end of the world – in fact, it might even work out for the better! Often your home university will secure you another university based on what you put down as your secondary preferences.
YOU DON’T GET YOUR FIRST SUBJECT PREFERENCE.
It’s not just that ah-may-zing university in France that you might not get in to – it’s also the electives you’ve applied for too. This might not seem like such a bad thing at first… but then you realize you’re now stuck with all the units you’d labelled “yawn-fest” and shucked to the bottom of your preference list. Or, the overseas unit which matched up to one of your core home units gets rejected. Gulp!
The solution: Contact the relevant student exchange consultant from your home university and ask if you can switch units (making sure to provide them with the ones you’re after, of course!). Often times, they can contact your overseas university and negotiate a switch. Don’t hang your hopes on it though – if the overseas university doesn’t budge, then you’ll just have to grin and bear it.
YOU HAVE TO WAIT DAYS BETWEEN EMAILS.
Admit it – you’re tots guilty of having sent off an email, only to start stressing a minute later when we haven’t gotten a reply. It’s one of the few downsides of being in the Millennial generation; you’ve grown up with the idea that instant replies are the norm. Unfortunately, it’s not. But does that stop you from freakin’ freaking out when it’s been two days since you sent that email and there’s STILL been no replies? Na-ah. Bring on the grey hairs and heart disease!
The solution: Make sure to consider different time zones, holidays and unusual contact hours before you send off an email. Trust me – it will save you a tonne of nail biting! It also pays to remember that you might be one of several hundred student exchange applicants applying to your host university… and that it might take some time for your email to even be seen.