By Moses Chun (The University of Sydney, Australia)
It is the 7th of March and I am now in Sydney! The semester has just started and it has been around one year since I was accepted to go on this exchange programme. Having only been in Sydney for a few days and feeling excited while I am settling down, I think it may be good to look back and write about the preparation for my semester abroad.
It all began in 2013, back in the first semester of my first year in Manchester. I was filling in the application form and it was a long one despite having only a few pages. Students will have to plan carefully which courses they will be taking and seek approval from respective exchange advisers. For me, I had to get my courses approved by both the Economics and Politics advisers to make sure the courses I am taking in Sydney will fulfill the requirements of my degree programme so I will not miss any prerequisites for my third year. There are a few things that I had to consider when I was planning my courses, such as my interest in the unit of study, the timetable, whether the unit would fit into my degree programme well and the difficulty of that unit. It meant that I had to do some detailed research and often sent emails to the partner university to ask for more information. It also meant I had to compromise a little bit as it is hard to find a perfect fit. Sometimes I couldn’t take the course which interested me the most and I am having to take some more difficult courses. However, I still get to study what I find interesting and it is always good to challenge yourself with something a bit more difficult. The reason I am talking about the application is that it may be more complicated than you thought but it ensures an enjoyable time abroad as you have done all the research and work beforehand.
After submitting the application, you may want to apply for accommodation if you wish to live in university halls. Since the result of the exchange application will only come out around late February and the deadline for second year students to apply university halls is in mid-February (14th February last year… you will probably have more important things to care about on that day), it will be very hard to get a place in university halls if you apply after the deadline. If you are confident about your exchange application, you may choose a one semester contract and it would be very convenient since you do not have to look for flatmates who will be going abroad as well to share a house.
Once my application was accepted, I had to attend meetings to get up-to-date information about studying abroad. These meetings were very useful in preparing for the exchange programme. You will get a lot of information from different people such as returning exchange students, and their experience can be very helpful as a starting point.
You cannot just submit the application and then be all good to go; constant work is needed as you will need to consider all aspects of studying abroad. It will surely increase your workload, but don’t get me wrong, I found the process rewarding as it gave me the chance to seriously think and plan my own study, both in Manchester and Sydney, so that I have better understanding about what I want to learn and how I am going to learn it. It was also a great opportunity to work on this ‘project’ which lasts for one and a half years, having to keep everything on track throughout the process. I hope this blog post can help you to find out more about the work required for the application and to understand it is a long term commitment which you will find rewarding at the end. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions and good luck with your application!
<–Some photos taken on the USyd campus 🙂