Semester abroad preparations

Heyo people,

today I have an announcement to make:

*drum roll*

I’ll be doing a semester abroad in Australia !! I will be there for 6 months live there, go to Uni there, maybe/hopefully find a parttime Job. Of course I’ll try my best and keep you updated about my adventures and new experiences there. But for now I just want to tell you about my way here, all the organisation and steps you need to take while applying for a semester abroad in Australia.

Step 1: Check your finances

First of all once you’ve decided to study a semester abroad no matter how far away it may seem START SAVING. Studying a semester abroad overseas is super expensive (I think it’s way cheaper when you’re EU Citizen and go with Erasmus, but you have to ask Lili on that) and there are lots of hidden costs waiting for you. Also you should keep the deadlines for scholarships in mind, because applying there depending on where you go one of the first steps. If you don’t have all documents it doesn’t matter, you can always send them later. That was the mistake I made, I waited for ages until I’m further in my application for Uni and in the end I missed the deadlines for scholarships. Now I use my savings and I’m financially supported by my parents and german governmental funding. So be sure to have sufficient financial possibilities at first.

Step 2: Get information

To find out where you can go and what you have to do to apply, you should get information from the International Office at your home Uni. I already went to my first information event a year ago, because you really have to start applying early and the semester times might be really differnt to the ones at home. So go to events, get flyers and brochures do internet research and visit your international office if you have further questions.

Step 3: Collect all your documents

There are sooo many documents you need to apply for a Uni overseas. Apart from my personal data, I needed an overview of all my study results so far, a CV, a letter of motivation, a financial plan, a plan of what subjects I might want to take in Australia, a letter of recommendation from one of my Profs and a certificate of english language. It took quite some time to get all of that together. Especially the english certificate was quite an effort, as the one I already had wasn’t acknowledged by the Australian Uni. I needed a TOEFL or an IELTS certificate, so in december I had to go to a city where the offer TOEFL exams to take mine and luckily passed. It was so relieving once I had had all my documents together and had handed them in !

Step 4 Wait and see

Yeah after handing in your application there isn’t much you can do at first. At our Uni the exchange program works like this: First you have to apply to the home Uni’s exchange program so they can send you to their partner Uni and you won’t have to pay fees because you’re an exchange student. That’s the way I would recommend to all of you. It is possible to apply directly to the Uni abroad, but you would have to pay fees, get less help with application and the chances you get accepted are lower. After you’ve handed in your application the home uni will see if they think your suitable and then invite you for an interview. At my interview there were 3 professors and 2 other students and they asked us questions about our CVs, why we want to go to Australia and why we think our studies would benefit from it. Also it’s never a mistake to know some facts or current news about the country you want to go to. A few weeks after that I got finally accepted into the exchange program and the wait to hear from the Australian Uni started.

Step 5 Apply at your guest uni

I felt like it took ages until I finally heard from my guest Uni, but applying there was rather easy. As my home uni had already sent in my application forms and all my documents I just had to apply via Internet and choose the courses I wanted to take. Before choosing my courses, I printed out the course descriptions and talked about them with a prof for my subject at my home Uni to be sure I would only choose courses that would be acknowledged for my studies here.

Step 6 Waiting again

Yep and waiting for the response from Uni again, which felt like ages.

Step 7 Applying for housing

At my Uni in Sydney exchange students are guaranteed a place at University’s housing. I simply applyied for that, I could choose three preferences for rooms and a few days later I already heard from them. They offered me a room in a 6 bedroom flatshare which I gladly accepted. Though it was all very easy I was shocked by the prices, because in Germany living is much cheaper.

Step 8 Visa and flight

After finally officially getting accepted by the Uni, I could start with organizing the important things. First of all I buyed health insurance which I needed for my visa application. It was very easy as my Uni linked me to a provider where you could get insured in only a few steps. After that I booked my flight. I was very late on this so it cost a fortune and as I tried to get the cheapest one I will now be changing 3 times. After receiving my confirmation of enrolment I was able to apply for my visa and was already scared I wouldn’t get it in time. The process took 2 hours and was quite complicated, but I literally got my visa granted after 2 minutes.

Step 9 Learning agreement and course registration

After having the subjects approved I could take, I enrolled in them online and created my timetable. At first I was pretty overwhelmed by that but then it was easier than it seemed. After that I had my forms signed by the prof I went to for the courses before. Now I will be taking “Digital Literacies”, “Multiplatform journalism” and “Composing the real” (which is a course where you learn how to make a documentary). I#m already very excited to see what my studies are like in Australia.

Step 10 Last little bits and excitement

Everything is pretty much done now there are just things like booking the welcome events you want to go to, getting informed about a phone contract, buying and adapter and making sure you have everything you need but that’s pretty chill, so you have lota of time to get super excited and brag about it infront of your friends ! Okay, to be fair I recently haven’t had much time at all because as the australian semester and the german semester cross over, I’m leavimg before my semester ends and I had to finish a lot of coursework. Anyway now I’m pretty much done with everything, I have even moved out of my appartement (which I’m subletting while I’m away) and my flight is on wednesday.

I’m not gonna lie to you these preparations are stressful and all the hidden costs, the deadlines, the paperwork and the insecurity if I should book/apply for things even though my stay wasn’t confirmed really wore me out. But now that everything is done, I’m really looking forward to what will surely be a wonderful time!

If you’re applying or want to apply for a semester abroad and have any questions don’t hesitate to ask me on either my personal twitter @alinaisaweirdo or our blog twitter @castway_minds

I will try and keep you updated the upcoming weeks !

Until then byyyeeeee

Love,

Alli xx

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Personal: hei.alina

blog: castawayminds

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