Studying Abroad: Preparations

Written by: Billie Clark

As a full-time, English Literature student of TrentU Durham, I got to spend a school year abroad in Wales and I’m excited to share my experience with you.

I planned to do a year abroad from the moment I decided to attend TrentU Durham. While on a tour of the campus, I saw the flyer and information on the Trent International Program.  Having already fallen in love with the campus, the fact that there was an exchange program, with so many partner schools all over the world, made my decision to
study at TrentU Durham final.

I made an appointment with Craig the academic advisor, before I had chosen my courses.  I wanted to find out as much as I could about the exchange.  I was told that third-year
exchanges are preferred, as you are able to get many of the requirements to graduate in your second year, and you’ll still be able to return and graduate with the people who started at Trent with you. I started my first year with my third year in mind.

As my first year came to a close I met with Craig once again.  I needed to plan out
my second year in order to ensure that I could take as many fun and interesting
courses as I could while abroad, without worrying about how they would affect
my degree and graduation.  At the time, the requirements for an English major were slightly more restrictive than they currently are, and I wanted to deal with as many required courses as possible in my second year of university.  I also
wanted to choose courses that I would enjoy and do well in during my second
year.  Grades are a factor that are reviewed during the application.  Craig
and I planned for me to take a full course load made up, almost exclusively, of
English courses in order to meet as many of my degree requirements as possible
before going abroad.

Second year courses were planned well in advance, and once they began it was smooth sailing. That is, until around January of my second year, when the studying abroad application process really got started.  It was during the application that I realised that my participating in an exchange wasn’t nearly as set in stone as I had been thinking it was.
I had to choose a school, a second-choice, get recommendations, write
essays, and attend classes—it was hectic and my tendency to procrastinate
certainly didn’t help matters.  But then I was in!

Once accepted, I continued to work hard—as I mentioned, grades do factor into both the application, and actually going abroad.  On top of that, there were tasks
set to prepare candidates for their semester or year abroad, and I had to
become familiar with Swansea University (my host school) and their campus,
clubs, and programs.  Even after school ended in my second year, I continued to work on my exchange, from visa and passport applications, to course registration, to final pre-departure tasks—I was busy right up until I left!

Stay tuned for the next part in my student exchange blog post series.

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