By Mehek Shahzad

Looking for a way to broaden your horizons? Love travelling? Interested in immersing yourself in a completely different culture whilst working towards your degree? Then completing a term or year studying abroad might be for you! We’re here to give you a basic understanding of what to expect, from application deadlines to funding opportunities, to aid you as much as possible in your decision-making process!

First things first: do your research. We’d recommend starting off by going on to the Sussex website and taking a look at the list of partner universities that offer a place for your course (subject to availability, as there are limited spaces) and narrow down your choices. Due to a high volume of applicants, you aren’t always guaranteed to get a space on your first choice – so you should have at least 3 or 4 universities you’d be happy to go to. If you’re in first year, you have the opportunity to study abroad for a term either in the beginning or the end of your second year. If you’re already in the second year of study, you only have the option to complete a whole year (usually consisting of 10 months) abroad, right before going into third year. You’d also normally need to have a good academic record of achieving at least 50% in stage 1 if you’re applying for a full voluntary year, or 60% if you’re applying for a term, as most partner universities do require students to be working at minimum 60% across all modules.

Definitely do begin your application process as early as you can, so that you can thoroughly consider factors such as expenses, culture and language, all of which will affect your experience abroad massively Learn the lingo, choose the right accommodation and plan your budget! Also do discuss your options with your academic advisor, who will also need to provide a reference to the study abroad team on your behalf, concerning attendance, grades etc. Do everything to make sure you’re well equipped for your looming solo venture, so that you’re as confident going in as you can possibly be – the last thing you want to do is be rushing your choices or become too overwhelmed to complete the form properly and miss out on an amazing opportunity (it happens more often than you think!)

Now with the current semi-disastrous political crisis the UK is in due to the ongoing Brexit ordeal, bodes the question on most worried students’ lips: how will the possibility of ‘no deal’ Brexit affect the application process? Well, the UK leaving the EU will mean that it is far less likely for UK universities including Sussex to continue to offer their students Erasmus funding to study in a European country, which unfortunately means that costs associated with studying in Europe will be slightly higher without the extra help. Thus, it is advised for students to apply under the understanding that they will not receive the usual Erasmus funding and ensure they have the means to support themselves financially if they do obtain a place at a partner university. If you are eligible for a student loan, or any Sussex scholarly award, you will still receive this accordingly and so aren’t completely left in the lurch! Also take into account visa costs, plane tickets, insurance etc. as you are responsible for providing evidence that it is all taken care of.

Aside from costs, the Brexit bother shouldn’t interfere with the usual application process, with Sussex still discussing arrangements with their partner universities in countless countries, like Norway, Austria, France, Italy, as well as all of the other countries outside of Europe, such as places in North America. So don’t worry too much about lack of accessibility to your dream country!

It’s also important to note that there is a lot of help offered during the application process from the Study Abroad team at Sussex, as it is quite a hefty load and it is in your best interest to complete it to the best of your ability in order to up your chances of securing a place at your top pick. It may seem long-winded in the short term, but I promise you the experience and adventure will make it all worthwhile! So, if you’re still here and down to throw yourself out of your comfort zone, make sure your application is in by 4pm on the 27th of November (possibly earlier, depending on your schools deadline, so do double check). You can also find out more information by visiting the study abroad section on the Sussex website, and reading the study abroad handbook, which has everything you need to know and more. Good luck!

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