Anyone with experience of degree courses with a year abroad please?

(45 Posts)
NamingOfParts Sat 22-Dec-12 19:30:03

DD1 is considering doing a chemistry degree course with a year or more abroad (possibly an Erasmus year and a year in North America). Does anyone have experience of these types of courses please?

- Did the home university support the exchange programme?
- Did the host university support visiting students?
- was it a good experience?

webfizzystuff Sun 23-Dec-12 17:38:56

DD1 is at UEA -she would highly recommend it grin

I see UEA is on your DD's shortlist. I did a BSc in Chemical Sciences there with a year in Spain on the Erasmus programme.

I started my degree back in 1992 and back then UEA seemed the most organised in terms of managing the exchange and both sides were very proactive. The host university had a large number of exchange students and a team which supported those students.

It was an amazing experience- I went speaking basic Spanish and came back pretty fluent smile Also made a load of great friends and saw some amazing places.

I would highly recommend it.

fussychica Sun 23-Dec-12 18:04:57

DS going to France next year as part of his degree. He's really looking forward to it but a bit anxious about coping with all the initial admin without being fluent in the language (he's fluent in Spanish) as lots have people have told him how unhelpful people are to those who aren't fluent. I'm sure he'll cope.

If all goes to plan he should get Erasmus grant and a full year fee waiver. As he's on a language degree lots of his friend will be in the same boat but know sorting accommodation for year 4 will be difficult so may have no choice other than to go for halls again - the Uni now make provision for this after returners were left without accommodation a few years ago. Downside is that it's more expensive than a flat and more restrictive.

NamingOfParts Sun 23-Dec-12 18:06:53

Perdita, thank you, I think that the experience could be great for DD1 (dont worry, she is pulling not me pushing).

It is the level of organisation at UEA which impresses. The international exchange programmes do seem to be integral rather than an afterthought.

webfizzystuff, I'm glad that your DD can give UEA a clean bill of health!

Glittertwins Sun 23-Dec-12 21:20:45

Fussychica- if he is happy in current accommodation, could he not come to an agreement with landlord for his final year? I stayed in the same house throughout my time at Uni as it was brilliantly located and clean! My landlord w happy for me to pay a small retainer for me to have my room back when I returned from my year in France.

fussychica Mon 24-Dec-12 13:30:33

glitter not sure he likes it THAT much - he is happy living there but has seen other places he prefers but it is a good thought if he doesn't fancy halls. It's 8 bedrooms and only 3 of the current occupants are off on a year abroad so may be messy to sort but I'll def mention it to him - thanks. Any tips for enjoying France?

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 24-Dec-12 13:38:19

I did an exchange to North America. Originally was due to go to UCD, but they forgot about me in allocating their clinical rotations so there was no space for me! However, my home Uni really helped and I eventually went to VTech. All the staff at VTech were really supportive and helpful helped me find somewhere to live even lent me a car on one occasion. It was brilliant I loved the experience. For me the type of learning was different and much more suited to me. I was a middle of the road student in the UK and top of the class at VTech acing all my rotations.

Glittertwins Mon 24-Dec-12 14:56:03

Fussy-it was a while ago but he will probably still need a carte de sejour and a fully translated and notarised copy of his birth certificate. It has to be notarised in France too which he will have to pay for. Certainly nothing was translated like it is in the uk so he might feel a little daunted but he just needs to keep going. I didnt socialise too much with english students as they just stayed in cliques as I wanted to improve my French.

NamingOfParts Mon 24-Dec-12 15:46:56

Lonecat, can you translate please? Where are UCD & VTech please?

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 24-Dec-12 17:28:25

UCD University California at Davis (UC has several campuses spread across the state)
Vtech Virginia Tech

NamingOfParts Tue 25-Dec-12 00:07:06

Thank you Lonecat!

Lilymaid Tue 25-Dec-12 10:24:42

One of the less great parts of the international year is receiving the bills and DS's American university has surpassed itself by sending out its bills for the next semester on Christmas morning! The bill is for student accommodation/meals and health insurance.
As DS has a medical condition we had been very concerned about the cost of US health insurance. Whereas DS was uninsurable with a standard UK "year abroad" insurance because of a medical condition, his US insurance, organised through his US university, is blind to previous medical history so his costs the same as anyone else's. He's sorted out for his medication through the NHS and had six months of medication delivered to him before he went out in August and will have some more delivered after his UK hospital appointment in January. So, an international year in the USA isn't out of the question for students with chronic medical conditions.

NamingOfParts Tue 25-Dec-12 11:39:42

Lilymaid wow, your DS sounds very organised and mature. Dealing with a long term medical condition and undertaking a period of study away from home must be a huge challenge and also a huge maturing experience. I am sure you are very proud of him.

Mind, not such a nice Happy Christmas with the bills though!

UEA offer fee support for a year in the US (pay 15% of UK fee and UAE pays the US fee).

How do accommodation costs compare please?

webfizzystuff Tue 25-Dec-12 21:04:36

Accommodation costs really depend on where you go - DD1 lived in a shared apartment near to the university in San Francisco and it was very expensive (especially compared to Norwich which is quite a cheap place to live). It was recommended that she didn't use the university accommodation which was even more expensive again and didn't really save many spaces for overseas students. We had to balance the cost against living in a safe area - DD1 viewed a couple of cheaper rooms but they were in scary bits of the city!!

Lilymaid Thu 27-Dec-12 13:08:46

NamingOfParts - DS is at a state university - so this may be cheaper than some private universities. IHe is living in a hall of residence in a shared room. He shared for half of last semester until his room mate got a better room ... away from DS' snoring, but DS may have to share again this semester as a lot of international students only come for one semester. This will cost £2,150. He also pays for a standard "meal plan" at £1330. This seems to be for all meals (food isn't great ... especially as he doesn't really do salad).
On top of this is international health insurance at £270, then a load of other fees including £165 for intercollegiate athletics!
The grand total for the next semester comes to just under £4600 for the semester (so around £9k for the year for all university costs).
Then on top of all this are a weekly living allowance, some help towards big bills (college colours sports kit, ski pass) and plane fares. So I reckon that this year will cost the best part of £15k.
DS' UK university charges him half tuition fees - so around £1700 for the year, and his US university tuition fees are waived. He gets a student loan, which goes towards some of these expenses and has some money of his own from a summer job and a couple of weeks work at the moment, but I pick up most of the cost.

NamingOfParts Thu 27-Dec-12 13:31:44

Thanks Lilymaid, those are some serious costs.

webfizzystuff Thu 27-Dec-12 15:49:11

The accommodation for international students at SFSU (San Francisco State University) varied between $12,000 and $15,000 a year (before food) but it said in the information DD1 was sent that UEA didn't recommend students went for the university accommodation but instead tried to find their own rooms when they got there. This was especially nerve racking as DD1 had to arrive in San Francisco with a hostel room booked for 10 days and nothing beyond that. Fortunately she did have a friend who had just graduated from SFSU and had spent a year abroad at UEA in her halls when she was a first year. He put in a good word for her with someone he knew who had a spare room. Without that she would have been relying on Craigslist or groups of international students were getting houses together. DD1's room was $800 a month for 10 months so much cheaper than halls but literally across the road from the university accommodation.

Her health insurance was around $1000 for the year as the university specified that they wanted a much higher level of cover than the visa requirements. In fact everything in San Francisco seemed to be eye wateringly expensive but I suppose its comparable to living in London. DD1 was allowed to borrow an extra £500 from student finance for the year (how we laughed hmm)

NamingOfParts Thu 27-Dec-12 19:21:11

Good grief, I am starting to wonder if North America is beyond the family budget - I cant see an extra £500 loan is really going to make all the difference!

The Erasmus year makes sense especially from UEA where a year in Europe would not add time to the course.

webfizzystuff Thu 27-Dec-12 20:40:51

There are travel grants available from student finance that cover the flights and health insurance

www.direct.gov.uk/prod_consum_dg/groups/dg_digitalassets/@dg/@en/documents/digitalasset/dg_195933.pdf

and if you look on the UEA funding webpage

www.uea.ac.uk/study/study-abroad/UEAabroad/infohum/feesandfundinginformation

it states that some universities do a room exchange where you pay the UK cost and a student from the US pays for a room at their home university and you swap for the year. It may be possible to do it more cheaply if your DD is well informed about where she chooses to go.

NamingOfParts Thu 27-Dec-12 21:26:47

Many thanks for that webfizzystuff, I can see that DD & I are going to have to start a spreadsheet!

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