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Study year abroad

(26 Posts)
Jobforlife Thu 30-Mar-17 07:58:46

My DD is going to Santiago in Chile on International Exchange as part of her History degree. Anyone else have offspring about to travel abroad to study? I'm immensely excited for her, but quite nervous too... The process of getting her over there, enrolled on the right courses, and of course sorting out visa etc. is a full time job! As Chile has an academic year that runs differently to the UK, she will actually be away a full year (July 17 to July 18) and with flights rather expensive, she won't be coming back for the full year. sad
Still, we hope we will be able to go out there to visit her and do some exploring. Never been to South America before!

bojorojo Fri 31-Mar-17 19:58:31

My DD did Erasmus in Europe but one of her friends went to Reunion Island. South America will be great and I am envious of you going out to see her!

The one thing we learnt was making sure the accommodation is sorted out. One university had student accommodation provided by the university, the other didn't. The university accommodation office required early application for a room (April) and some students missed the deadline and had to pay double for a private let. Has she applied for accommodation? Is the university teaching in English or Spanish?

Another tip is to go to all events organised for exchange students. Try and make friends. Chilean friends if she can, but other nationalities are also potential friends. DD got on well with Australians. It might be a bit lonely to begin with but doing things really helps. Also, tell her to travel a bit. International students are more likely to do this than local students. It would be a shame not to. At least the cost of living is not high there!

One of my DDs exchange universities was very disorganised. She may not get UK efficiency or brilliant teaching or even small seminar groups but you take it as you find it. My DD had to take the exams at both universities in her subjects but passing was not required by her UK university. She did but it does not have to rule your life. What does her home uni require? She had to research into a cultural subject whilst there and if she needs to do this, form some ideas fairly quickly. Don't leave it to the last minute.
This sounds so exciting!

Crumbs1 Fri 31-Mar-17 20:50:22

My two medical ones both did elective abroad- one was brilliant experience, great fun but not much learning over and above what they could learn in U.K. Very expensive though. The other opted for Chad and learned a huge amount but was attacked three times and had to be brought back early for HIV/hepatitis testing and prophylaxis. That was a horrid scary time but she says she'll return after core training.
One did chemical engineering in Nigeria and had amazing time but was under sponsorship of large petrochemical company, so very organised and supported. The last will do an Erasmus year but university seems to be good at arranging internships etc. It was medics who had to sort their own and who were least supportive.

Jobforlife Sat 01-Apr-17 08:52:08

Goodness! Sounds like some adventures were had with your lot Crumbs...
Bojorojo you have highlighted some of my concerns, particularly the accommodation issue (the university doesn't have its own, so we need to look into that carefully) and the making friends.
Teaching is in Spanish, and her grades will count towards her degree, so its going to be a massive challenge for her. She has taken the view that although this may impact on her final degree classification, the experience will be worth it and enhance her skills in other ways.

Crumbs1 Sat 01-Apr-17 09:26:24

Comes with having six children! My friends daughter did Erasmus in Italy and France. No accommodation sorted by university but she went to a hostel for three weeks and met others who she moved in with. I think the cities with universities taking Erasmus students are quite well set up for them.

NormaSmuff Sat 01-Apr-17 09:28:21

Good to know since DD is looking into Eurasmus

Jobforlife Sat 01-Apr-17 09:46:15

The University she is going to does seem to have quite a good international exchange set up, and they are responsive to email queries etc so I'm hopeful she will be well supported when there. They have a list of hostels and private halls that we can look into. I think the idea of just staying in a hostel for a few weeks whilst she finds her feet is a good one.
She goes end of July and that will be the start of the second semester. She finishes that semester in December, and then has her long summer break until March. That's when she will have the opportunity to do some traveling, and when we can potentially go out to see her. She has been working all her holidays and during term time this year to help pay for it all. She can access a maintenance loan from SfE but obviously that won't cover all her expenses. Her home Uni will pay her a few hundred quid if she becomes an international exchange ambassador and writes a blog when she is there, and there is a travel scholarship which she may (hopefully) get too.
Erasmus is much better funded than International exchange, but unfortunately she couldn't find a Uni in Spain to study at and she's very excited about this opportunity to go half way round the world!

bojorojo Sat 01-Apr-17 11:59:16

My DDs friend did Erasmus in Madrid and universities in Spain are set up for this but maybe not the course she wanted.

If the university says she can access private halls I would do this as friends will be easier to meet. Just rocking up in a class room or lecture hall does not guarantee friends if there are 100 in the room. I would try and get a hall before she goes. My DD had to find her own accommodation in Italy but had applied to landlords before she left her first university city in Switzerland. I booked her into a hotel for 5 nights whilst she looked at the rooms. She took the first one and is still in contact with her landlady who was a young lawyer. This part of the year was a worry but getting the accommodation in Switzerland confirmed before she went was a huge relief. My very best advice is to get a room in a hall and get it in advance. Pay for the best you can afford. Chile is safe and absolutely not Africa.

It is a very worthwhile thing to do. DD rates it highly amongst her achievements and it is worth more than a first! It shows you have resilience, can sort out your life and have skills that staying at home just won't give.

Obviously the winter here is their summer so an ideal time to travel. DDs boyfriend did his third year in France and that counted so there is a bit of pressure to get used to the system. My DD found Switzerland just like her home university but Italy was a law unto itself! The university should have a dedicated exchange office but don't expect hand holding. The Italians were not into that at all but I don't know about Chilean universities! It is more a case of friends pointing you in the right direction! They are vital!

Jobforlife Sat 01-Apr-17 13:28:46

Yes, I tend to agree that the life skills that she will gain, and some amazing experiences no doubt, will far outweigh a first class honours degree. But she will have to work pretty hard to be able to pass all the assessments when doing it all in Spanish. Her language skills are good, but writing academic essays in Spanish, and being able to discuss complex ideas verbally in seminars and tutorials will be tough!
There is one guy who has been there this year that she is in contact with, so she can pick his brains on lots of queries. Plus my Neighbour's friend's daughter has just come back from working in Chile so I'll get them together over Easter for a chin wag.
There are two others going with her from her University but she doesn't want to spend all her time with people from her home Uni!

bojorojo Sat 01-Apr-17 18:34:09

There is a web site 'Third Year Abroad' that just might have a contribution from a student who has been to Chile. DDs boyfriend did Mechanical Engineering in French and he started uni with a GCSE in French and no A level in it but worked hard at his French before the year abroad.

Are you sure there are seminars and tutorials? There weren't in Italy. Just lectures with 100 students present. Not all countries and universities operate our system of student engagement and teaching methods. In Italy, students just do the work and hope for the best in the exams!

Jobforlife Sat 01-Apr-17 19:07:00

I'll have a look at the website, thank you.
Yes, one of the others going with her is studying Economics and only has A level Spanish (and hasn't done any since). I'm sure she will be ok. Hopefully, she will come back with a real fluency in Spanish.
I think there are oral assessments as well as essays and exams. The system is very different though. They are required to attend lectures for a start! And the timetable runs well into the late afternoon/evening!

Haffdonga Sat 01-Apr-17 19:15:43

Ds is going to Australia for a whole yeeeeear . It seems fairly complicated because the Oz academic year obviously starts at a different time from ours - so he starts in the second semester and then does the first semester, meaning his end of year exams happen when he's only a few weeks in.

Jobforlife Sat 01-Apr-17 19:36:03

What is your son studying Haffdonga? The academic year thing sounds similar to Chile, although I think modules are chosen to study per semester and assessed at the end of the semester in the Uni my DD is going to.
Are you planning to go out and visit?

bojorojo Sat 01-Apr-17 21:30:24

It is a Southern Hemisphere university so they have a long break after Christmas and a University year typically start in the late summer/Autumn, just like us. Therefore you have to do semester 2 followed by Semester 1.

Haffdonga Sat 01-Apr-17 21:36:15

He's doing chemistry Job . We're hoping to go and visit but dh is pointedly avoiding talking about costs and times so it may be a bit of a fantasy.

Haffdonga Sat 01-Apr-17 21:39:24

Yes I guess the whole backwards semester thing will make it harder on the social side as they'll start off meeting one year of students and end up with another.

HereThereThen Sun 02-Apr-17 00:26:47

No advice but I just wanted to say that Chile and Santiago are fantastic places. It a absolutely stunning country and I think it would be a brilliant place to study. I'm excited for her smile

bojorojo Sun 02-Apr-17 08:48:26

Not necessarily. They could stay with the same cohort and go into the next year with them.

Notsoskinnyminny Sun 02-Apr-17 09:06:11

DD had the same semester issue in japan. She was the only native English speaker in her first semester and felt really isolated. She came home for a month between semesters as she hadn't made any friends but when she went back the new students were mostly American or Australian and she had a great time and has kept in touch/met up with many of them.

What was the 'worst time' of her life ended up being the best part of her uni experience and she learnt way more than she did here.

bojorojo Sun 02-Apr-17 11:02:27

Some students only do one semester so there are changes of students. Joint MFL students go to two countries. Always be open to making friends. They don't have to be Japanese or Chilean. They could be from anywhere!

Jobforlife Sun 02-Apr-17 16:21:22

I do feel that my DD is quite resilient. She is a quiet sort, who doesn't have a wide circle of friends, and takes time to build those friendships. However, she is comfortable in her own company and recognises the benefits on giving things a go... so I would expect her to attend welcome events and join in clubs and societies that may not be her thing, but give her an opportunity to interact with others.
I'm immensely impressed with the opportunities to travel that the Universities now offer students. I don't remember there being any such opportunities when I went to Uni. I would have absolutely loved to have done something like this!
I am, however, a little sad at the prospect of her not being with us at Christmas. That's just being selfish though isn't it?

Leeds2 Sun 02-Apr-17 17:47:19

My DD is doing her degree in the States, so away for 4 years. This year was the first time I didn't see her on her birthday, which really upset me (more than it should've done really), so I can understand you feeling sad about Christmas. But it is a great opportunity for your DD and I'm sure she will have the time f her life. You are right though about there being so much more available today.

Haffdonga Sun 02-Apr-17 21:37:52

Yes. I know what you mean about Christmases and birthdays. When ds first started seriously talking about going to Australia I asked pathetically But what about Christmas?
Oh I'll have an amazing time having Christmas on a beach! says ds.
(Yes but what I really meant was What about meeee?)

Leeds2 Sun 02-Apr-17 22:18:21

Australia is even further away than than the Staes, Haffdonga. Could you go and visit?

bojorojo Sun 02-Apr-17 23:20:15

It is great if you can have a family get together whilst the student is away because they can show you round. It is the first time they know more than you about a destination.

Both my DDs went to a South African school for a term when they were 13 in Y9. That was harder when they were young! They were at home for birthdays and Christmas but I know it can feel a long way away when the flights are 10 hours plus. Some girls went to Australia and New Zealand at the same age for a term and had birthdays whilst there. I think their time away did give them resilience and ability to make friends. I think determined people do well. You will be just fine at Christmas and Birthdays. They will be having a great time and face time comes into its own!

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