Ten ways to study abroad in 2010

By StudyLink

What do Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Bill Clinton and George Soros have in common? They all studied abroad. While it isn’t the only way to become a world leader or billionaire, it certainly provides an amazing opportunity to broaden your mind and meet new people who can shape your future career.

If you’ve been thinking about studying overseas in 2010 but are not sure where to start then StudyLink can help. In this article we’ve come up with ten sure-fire ways to make sure you’re studying somewhere else in the world this year.

1. Make a commitment

Studying abroad is a commitment you make to yourself, for your own future. It’s not easy. You need to be ready to work hard, to adapt to a new culture, to immerse yourself in a new language. But it may just be the best thing you ever do in your life, and it could change the way you see yourself and the way you see the world.

So make sure you know exactly why you want to study abroad. Where will it take you? What will you achieve with your international degree? Write it down and stick it on your wall. Be positive and believe in yourself.

2. Invest some time in your decision

This is not something you can work out overnight. Take the time to research your options and compare courses and campuses. The best university for you may not be your first or most obvious choice. Take advantage of the free student advice at StudyLink. Follow some of the online chats or post some questions of your own on the student discussion forum.

3. It’s a financial investment, too

For many students, the first and only criteria is cost. Tuition fees and cost of living may be the difference between travelling abroad for study, or travelling around the corner to your local college. But don’t give up if this is your only barrier to study.

Research the scholarship options for your field of study or your nationality. Find out whether you are eligible for student loan. Talk to your family about the opportunities it might bring. If you’re sure about your course of study and you know that the tuition fee investment will pay for itself after a few years of work, then it’s a smart decision.

4. Convince your family

On that note, it’s essential to get your family on board with your goals. You might not need their financial help, but you will definitely need their emotional support. Their belief in you, and perhaps their phone calls, will get you through that initial settling in period. And they might just have some good ideas of their own about how you can study overseas.

5. Build your support network

Sometimes it’s not always what you know but who you know. And also what and who they know! So build a network – online or in real life – with other students who want to study abroad, or who are already there. You may find a mentor in a current teacher or employer. They can help you make the right decision, and also guide you in your application and in building your new life overseas.

6. Be prepared for culture shock

Find out where you will be living, what the campus is like, what the cultural norms are, what people wear, what newspapers, movies, TV and music they read, watch and listen to. The more you know, the less culture shock there will be. And the sooner you can focus on making new friends and getting good grades.

7. Be prepared for language barriers

Speaking English in a classroom at home is one thing. Writing essays, making presentations, reading tutorial notes and finding part-time work in an English-speaking country is quite another. So if you don’t feel completely at ease in English, take some extra classes before you leave.

Remember, you can make mistakes when you first start speaking English overseas. Even if you’re completely fluent in English, you may find that they use different words for the same thing. You will learn something new every day!

8. Test yourself

Make sure you’re really ready to pass your entrance exams with flying colours. Your IELTS, TOEFL or GMAT score may be the difference between having your application approved or rejected, so practice… practice… practice. You may find it useful to take a preparation workshop before the test, or you may find help online.

9. Be the best you can be in your application

When it comes to that all-important application, there are a few common mistakes to avoid. First of all, have someone else check it for spelling and grammar, as well as what you actually say in it. This is your only shot to convince them that you are the best student for this class – especially if it’s for one of the most prestigious schools in the world.

Make sure you actually answer the questions, rather than talking about whatever comes to mind. If they ask for specific examples, be specific – show, don’t tell. Include all the relevant paperwork – test results, recommendations, and academic transcripts. And don’t forget to be honest about your abilities and goals.

10. Trust your instincts

If an opportunity comes your way and it feels right, just do it. It may not be your first choice. It may be your only choice because it’s the only one that will give you a bursary or scholarship or visa. But it may still be the best thing you ever do.

Just keep the following checklist in mind when you are making your final decision:

  • Where will I live and what will my life as a student be like?
  • How well known is the degree?
  • How safe is the city and campus?
  • Are there lots of other international students on campus?
  • What can the teachers there offer me that my teachers at home cannot?
  • Can I really afford it?

Then, all you need to do is to keep an open mind… and enjoy the adventure!

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