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Author Topic: Studyin' Abroad  (Read 6147 times)

Christophe

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Studyin' Abroad
« on: 07 Sep 2008, 19:16 »

(crossposted from that other forum I post on religiously.)

I'm giving serious thought towards studying abroad when I become a college Senior next year, since it would probably definitely be an awesome experience and I don't have to be in crusty old Merced for a semester. However, I have no clue where I want to go. The list of countries participating is here, I'm thinking about UK/Scotland/Ireland mainly because I'm crap at all other foreign languages (though my girlfriend wants me to avoid Scotland because she thinks I'm going to gorge myself on deep-fried everything. She's partly right). Hell, Canada would be awesome too. I'm also considering the UC center in Washington DC.

Any suggestions? Or fun tips to avoid myself coming back penniless or anything?
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Oli

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #1 on: 07 Sep 2008, 19:22 »

You can live in Scotland and not be a greasy deep fried pizza guzzling tub of shit! We have italian restaurants and farmers markets and fruit and everything!

Really though, it is kind of hard to suggest somewhere for you to go because, well, it is a pretty big decision and we don't really know what you're looking for in a university/place to live. If you do decide to come to the UK you've got to remember that it is fucking expensive here compared to the US and that our peanut butter is different to yours. I know a lot of americans that are studying here though, so it is definitely doable.
« Last Edit: 07 Sep 2008, 20:03 by Oli »
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sean

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #2 on: 07 Sep 2008, 19:28 »

I mean if you go to DC you will probably get to hang out with me at some point.

Studying abroad can be really cool though! My sister studied in Rome last semester and really enjoyed it! I have no input on where you should go, but you should definitely try it!
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Christophe

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #3 on: 07 Sep 2008, 19:42 »

deep friend pizza guzzling tub of shit

I would see this band.

I guess a little background on myself is necessary- I'm currently a Business Management major, Creative Writing minor. For as long as I can remember, I've always wanted to go to the British Isles- James Bond, Austin Powers and The Beatles do funny things to a kid, and Joy Division, The Fall, Trainspotting and a bunch of other things do funny things to me as an adult. The list of participating UK universities is here, I'm giving some thought to a university in London or the University of Glasgow (partly to die of clogged arteries and stalk Tommydski).
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benji

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #4 on: 07 Sep 2008, 19:53 »

I did my study abroad in college in India and loved it. It was easy getting by there without any Indian languages. Everyone speaks English for the most part. The same thing would probably be true of any other countries on that list that used to be British colonies. I noticed Hong Kong and South Africa, as well as Australia and New Zealand. It will be true in a lot of other countries as well. I've spent time in Israel, for example, and didn't have any trouble. So if the language thing is the only reason why you like the British Isles, I would suggest that you have more options then you think. Actually, just clicking on those little map things seems to bring up some information, including what language you need to know to take the classes.

I would look over that information and then answer the following questions for yourself:

What sort of cultural experience am I looking for? Do I want to sip tea/coffee at a European cafe? Do I want to eat dinner in tent somewhere in the third world? Do I want to explore parts of nature that I would never see at home?

What do I want to study? Different programs are going to be good for different things. If there's one that fits well in to your major, you may want to choose that one.

How much stress can I take? Let's face it, every study abroad option is stressful, but there's a big difference between getting lost somewhere in London and not being able to figure find your bearings for a while, and getting lost somewhere in Cairo and not being able to find anyone who speaks English except for the heavily armed military officer who scowls at you the entire time. Consider both your mental and physical health and be honest with yourself. If the developing world is going to be too much for you, then don't go. I definitely saw it turn out badly for a couple of folks in India.

How much support does this program give me? Some programs are great. They'll have experienced professors who will help you to explore the country safely without telling you what to do at all times. Other programs will just kind of turn you loose and you won't know who to talk to when you're feeling homesick or when you're in some sort of trouble. Others may smother you, filling your day with so much academic work and requiring so many check-ins that you don't get any chance to explore the country at all.

How much will it cost? Well, that's always a consideration somewhere. This is more than just tuition. Just hanging out in Europe is going to be expensive. In India, a few hundred bucks made me one of the richest people in town. If money is a concern, you may want to consider conversion rates and how much cost of living is going to run. I imagine some of the cost of living will be part of your tuition, but even if they provide a place to sleep and 3 meals a day, you'll occasionally want to hit the town or see the country side.
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RedLion

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #5 on: 07 Sep 2008, 20:08 »

I don't really have any practical advice for you, but I want to encourage you to go for it; do it.

I plan on studying abroad in Istanbul in a year, which is a bit more exotic than Britain: there's upsides and downsides to that fact, though, so I think the British Isles would be a really cool place to study abroad to get the experience without having to deal with a completely alien culture and such.
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Oli

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #6 on: 07 Sep 2008, 20:13 »

the University of Glasgow

This is where I go to Uni and it is a really great place. The city is wonderful, and the uni is in the west end which is a lovely area of the city to spend your days. If you want to know more about it feel free to PM me with questions whenever. There are plenty of places to get clogged arteries, but there are also a load of cheap cafes, tea shops, green grocers and obviously plenty of pubs. Glasgow is also (apparently) the 2nd best city in the UK for shopping, right behind London, and it is a damn sight cheaper. Bear in mind that tommydski does not stay in Glasgow or even particularly close.

I'm not trying to sell the uni to you or anything just this is what I know about.

If you do opt for London you've really got to remember that is is incredibly expensive. If money is a huge issue I would really work out if you've got enough to live off before you go anywhere, but especially so for London.

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yelley

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #7 on: 07 Sep 2008, 20:15 »

it is pretty easy to get around japan without knowing japanese. and japan is awesome.
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Ozymandias

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #8 on: 07 Sep 2008, 20:17 »

I'D LIKE TO STUDY ABROAD

OR TWO

HAW HAW HAW HAW HAW
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TheFuriousWombat

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #9 on: 07 Sep 2008, 20:19 »

I'm probably going to be "abroad" for a year actually (next year I think). I put that in quotes b/c I plan on spending one semester in NYC at a globalization and international affairs program run by my school studying human rights/conflict studies and doing an internship at human rights watch or some like agency, and then spending the next semester genuinely abroad in, most likely, New Zealand. Are there any particular reasons I should avoid the latter? I'm considering France or Italy as well...
I think everyone should go abroad. I don't know when I'll have an opportunity to hang out in a foreign country and sort of take classes and mostly just explore ever again in my life. Some call it glorified tourism but I think it can be a lot more meaningful than that and it's not something I plan on missing out on as a result.

EDIT: Ozymandias just taught me a new joke that I plan on using every opportunity I can get. Thanks!
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Elizzybeth

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #10 on: 07 Sep 2008, 20:55 »

I spent three months in Italy, living with a family and attending (for part of the time) a local high school; I'd like to reiterate Benji's point about making sure you consider how much support you will be getting from the program.

I went through an au pair agency that placed girls with families in Ireland and Italy, and they had an Italian language school in Rome. Within a week, I'd gotten a call back from the director with a family profile--they were interested in having me for a year.  I read over the contract, and was struck by a clause about visas.  I emailed the director, who said not to worry about it, that none of her girls ever had visas.  I worried anyway, but as far as I could tell on the Italian consulate website, I'd be fine for the first three months on a tourist visa; then it looked like I could obtain a student visa from the American consulate in Milan, so long as I'd signed up for some classes.

The first hint I had a problem was at the airport, where the lady at the check-in desk gave me a funny look when I said I didn't have a return ticket.  I explained I'd be living with a family and going to school.  Were they relatives?  No.  Did I have a visa?  Well, no, I thought I could go on a tourist visa--  No, only if you have a return ticket within three months.

So I had to buy a return ticket there, on the spot, for her to let me board the plane.  But I still thought there was no way the au pair agency would mislead me like that.

I did end up getting into classes at a local high school in Italy, so I emailed the American Consulate in Milan and the Italian Consulate in Los Angeles.  Both agreed; the only way I could get a visa was by going back to L.A.  It would've been nice to know that before leaving.

There was a list of required documents for a student visa on the LA Consulate website, so I got everything on that and made my appointment.  Three months later, back in L.A., I finally got up to the window and explained what I had and what I needed.  She explained in turn that there was a different list for minors.  I was surprised--there had been no information to indicate such on the website, or when I'd talked to the American Consulate, or when I called the Italian Consulate to make my appointment... evidently, they are not allowed to make such information available online.  The only way it can be obtained is from visiting the consulate.  And the list for minors required me to be living either with a first-degree relative or at a boarding school.  So living with friends and attending a high school was not okay, even though I had a letter from the principal of the high school and another one from the family. 

And basically that was the end of my Italian adventure.  It was a wonderful three months, but the program I went through was much more fly-by-night than I'd thought--the director called me up when I was back in the US, saying I should have just incurred a visa overstay, that it "is not a big deal."  Maybe not, but I didn't want a fine and a black mark in my passport (and the threat, if I incurred again, of being banned from the Schengen states for 5 years).

Since you're going through the UC system, I would hope that there wouldn't be these sorts of problems.  But always do your own research, and be careful who you take on their word.
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supersheep

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #11 on: 07 Sep 2008, 21:05 »

I don't think that that would be a problem - I don't think any respectable university will take you without having a proper student visa, and I'd say the University of California would have their stuff all sorted.

I'd say go for it if you can - you'll need to make sure you have the money for it and everything, and keep things like being homesick in mind, but it's a huge opportunity to take to get to see another world, do some fun stuff, and all that.
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Aimless

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #12 on: 07 Sep 2008, 22:09 »

Come to Sweden. Everyone speaks English, and I can practically guarantee you a great time. Lund is also just a hop and a skip away from Copenhagen, and pretty close to Sthlm as well :)
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Covetous

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #13 on: 08 Sep 2008, 01:40 »

I was just going to sugest Sweden, but Aimless beat me to it. I dont think ever herd a foreign student regretting comming to sweden. And I've meat most of them at my uniwersity sins I used to be the one welcoming them when I was a student.
A few pros with sweden. Most people speak descent or good english but you can still learn another language if you want to. Lund is an internationally respect university without being to big. Close to "everything". Without paying a lung and a kidney you can go south to germany, denmark, paulen, norway and finland. You can either have a descent pleasent temperature in down south of sweden like lund but can still go north for example to skie. It doesnt cost to much.
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valley_parade

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #14 on: 08 Sep 2008, 04:16 »

Bear in mind that tommydski does not stay in Glasgow or even particularly close.

I'm sold.
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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #15 on: 08 Sep 2008, 05:30 »

STAY AWAY FROM ME, DAMMIT. It's like I can't avoid him! Dski goes to London, I get a postcard saying HE'S STOLEN MY KIDNEY. I plan on going to Tronnocon, HE SHOWS UP.

*shakes fist*
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calenlass

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #16 on: 08 Sep 2008, 06:23 »

You can live in Scotland and not be a greasy deep fried pizza guzzling tub of shit! We have italian restaurants and farmers markets and fruit and everything!

Really though, it is kind of hard to suggest somewhere for you to go because, well, it is a pretty big decision and we don't really know what you're looking for in a university/place to live. If you do decide to come to the UK you've got to remember that it is fucking expensive here compared to the US and that our peanut butter is different to yours. I know a lot of americans that are studying here though, so it is definitely doable.


Dawg we got our lovely southern cooking from somewhere.
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october1983

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #17 on: 08 Sep 2008, 15:37 »

Which London uni are you considering? Looking at that list, and based on what you've said you study, I'm guessing it's not Imperial college, which leaves Kings College, Queen Mary or Royal Holloway - if it's Holloway, it's worth bearing in mind that while it's a lovely place, it's not really that close to the centre of London - it's a bit of a trek to anywhere. One of my flatmates went there for a year before dropping out and moving to a uni further inside the city. Kings, on the other hand, is really central and a great uni in general - I have a few friends there and they really tend to enjoy it.

As has been mentioned, London is pretty fucking expensive, but if that's something you can deal with it's a great place to be for a while. It's also handy for travelling around the country as a whole, and pretty good if you want to visit places elsewhere in Europe for pretty cheap.
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Christophe

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #18 on: 08 Sep 2008, 16:05 »

I guess I'd go with KCL or Queen Mary if I were to go with London. However, with people saying that living there is expensive as all hell I'm looking more specifically towards University of Glasgow now (unless another rad option comes up, I'd like to keep my options open).

Exactly how much more expensive is living in London compared to other places in the UK?
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october1983

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #19 on: 08 Sep 2008, 16:32 »

It's kind of hard to say, as it really depends what kind of stuff you plan on doing with your time. Drinking is hells of expensive here unless you know where to go, and even then it's not really cheap. Going out in general can be pricey. Accommodation is also a lot steeper than it would be elsewhere.

To give a rough idea, the student loan for living costs that I receive is just over a third greater than it would be if I went to university outside London, so someone somewhere thinks it's about a third more expensive in London. I'd say it's probably more so, and Glasgow is significantly cheaper.

Seeing as you don't seem to have your heart absolutely set on London, I suspect you'd have an equally great time in Glasgow. I love London and am probably a little biased towards it, but Glasgow is an amazing city, too.
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evernew

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #20 on: 09 Sep 2008, 02:11 »

I was on exchange twice, once in Spain and once in Canada.
Both were awesome in their own right but completely different from each other.
This actually goes for pretty much every exchange semester ever. So I won't tell you where to go. You will have to figure that one out for yourself.

Most exchange semesters will be a financial drain - even in developing countries, dormitories usually cost considerable monies. Living may be cheaper but getting there and away again will also cost a lot - and you'll want to travel while you are there. If you can, save up. If you can, find a part-time job there (a fun one like applying lotion to the Reef girls or bartending). If you can't do either, think of a loan from your parents or a bank. Nothing sucks more than staying every weekend if there's a whole country or continent to be explored if you just had the money.
Try for a scholarship / exchange semester assistance etc.! I got 600 € for the one in Spain just because I took one hour's time to apply and one hour's time to write a report about it afterwards.

In my opinion it's better to go to a country that doesn't speak your mother tongue so you have an incentive to learn another or improve it.

Also, one hint: Don't just hang out with other exchange students! While it's fun and you all share a lot and it makes semester romances a lot easier since both of you will disappear afterwards, you'll never see it all if you only hang with visitors.
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Christophe

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #21 on: 09 Sep 2008, 08:13 »

semester romances

Would be awesome except for the part where my girlfriend would be so pissed off at me.

Money's always been kinda tight for me, and as of today I have never worked a day job, so I gotta find one fast if I want to have a chance at saving up for Scotland.
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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #22 on: 09 Sep 2008, 14:48 »

You could go somewhere in the UK and just visit London. It's a bit overwhelming because you don't get a chance to get used to the place, but it'd be more manageable and you wouldn't have to pay London prices for too long.
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Christophe

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #23 on: 09 Sep 2008, 18:59 »

So I'm definitely set on University of Glasgow as my target for study abroad, so any more specific information on that would be greatly appreciated.

Also, are there any really good places to see a quality gig? (Well, I suppose that's a stupid question seeing as Josef K and Teenage Fanclub are from Scotland but I'd definitely rather see good, indie (not in the general UK sense of the word) bands like that instead of shit like Arctic Monkeys.)
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ledhendrix

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #24 on: 10 Sep 2008, 10:53 »

Carling Academy in Glasgow generally has a lot of good stuff going on. I've seen a few bands at the Barrowlands Ballroom as well. If there is a band that you really want to see that's on elsewhere, you really aren't far from most other city's in Scotland.
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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #25 on: 11 Sep 2008, 02:52 »

I'm probably going to be "abroad" for a year actually (next year I think). I put that in quotes b/c I plan on spending one semester in NYC at a globalization and international affairs program run by my school studying human rights/conflict studies and doing an internship at human rights watch or some like agency, and then spending the next semester genuinely abroad in, most likely, New Zealand. Are there any particular reasons I should avoid the latter? I'm considering France or Italy as well...
I think everyone should go abroad. I don't know when I'll have an opportunity to hang out in a foreign country and sort of take classes and mostly just explore ever again in my life. Some call it glorified tourism but I think it can be a lot more meaningful than that and it's not something I plan on missing out on as a result.

EDIT: Ozymandias just taught me a new joke that I plan on using every opportunity I can get. Thanks!
Sorry OP. I am just going to reply to this, as I am slightly drunk and feeling severely lazy. NZ is the shit! Woo! But yeah I dunno most people who come here really like it: from my POV as a NZer it's not that exciting. Erm, can't be bothered looking it up, are you Australian (since the name involves wombats)? If so it's slightly cheaper and very similar in culture. If you're American it's significantly cheaper for some things, the exchange rate's pretty good and there's lots of drinking. Apparently our women are more interested in casual sex (certainly I was when I was single, but I'm a bit of a freak in general). Not that I know your sex. I'm just going to stop the rambling now... but post it anyway. Yup, I'm going with that plan.
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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #26 on: 09 Oct 2008, 19:52 »

If I learned anything from visiting London and Scandinavia this summer it's that London is really expensive and that people from Copenhagen are really hot.

Definitely consider Scandinavia, I heard education is free, even for foreigners in Helsinki. Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki are also some of the most beautiful cities in the world.
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Oli

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #27 on: 16 Oct 2008, 05:28 »

Also, are there any really good places to see a quality gig?

Yes.

The 13th Note is probably my favourite, but there are also others.
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Hljómalind

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Re: Studyin' Abroad
« Reply #28 on: 17 Oct 2008, 22:42 »

My ex was a US student who did her year abroad here in London, at University College London. She enjoyed it. All of my friends who've done years abroad have been glad they did so, even if they didn't always enjoy every aspect of the experience (studying psychology in France and never once reading Lacan; being beaten up by Russian neo-Nazis; having a Chicago school economics lecturer in Chile), so I would recommend it on general principle.

Teenage Fanclub play in London too - I saw them in Camden and they were so awesome I suffered minor organ damage (actually, that may have been the pills) - and you can't beat this city for gigs, but I guess Glasgow would also be good. I don't know about that uni, but I have friends at St. Andrew's (dull - avoid), Edinburgh (great fun) and Aberdeen (alright, but you could do better). And if you go to Scotland, you will be required to eat the following foods in deep fried form:
- chicken
- ribs
- pizza
- Mars bar
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