To study abroad?

Joyce Cheng, Chemical Engineering, University of Maryland at College Park.

This post is written more for Engineering students, but more from a Chemical Engineering student’s point of view. 

If you’re considering whether to drop by the tents outside of University place this Tuesday, you definitely should! Leave your Thermos books for an hour or so, and speak to the students behind the tables. It’ll give you a new perspective of what you could do with your Chem Eng degree (:

IMG_1540拷貝.jpg‘When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable’ – Clifton Fadiman

A quick background about myself:
I’m a third-year student doing a semester exchange at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) for the semester. I am an international student from Malaysia and had spent my first two years of my undergraduate in Manchester. Hadn’t had I realize, and now, I’ve been on the American soil for a good 8 weeks!

Some of you might not know, you’re doing a Chem Eng degree in Manchester, and there is a chance for you to go abroad – USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, Singapore. Don’t fret about the application process, it’s simple. Completing an industrial placement in your third year, would give you industrial work experience, but doing a semester abroad in the first semester of your third year would give you an opportunity to grow as an individual and a lifetime of experience.

Two questions that ran through my mind before I started drafting my application for this amazing study abroad opportunity. I thought to share how I answered them, guessing you would have the same thoughts too.

1. An industrial placement or to do a study abroad?
It was a tough decision. It took me about two weeks before I made up my mind. I left my Thermo and MHMT books and Google the pros and cons of the two options. These were what I had gathered (typical answers you would get):

• Study abroad
– Tests your adaptability, flexibility and ability to succeed in diverse settings
– Gives you the opportunity to take engineering courses that is of your interest and fulfills Manchester degree requirements
– Experience living, academics and engineering practices from a fresh perspective
– Explore what it means to become part of a community in another culture
– Improve cross-cultural exchange and communication skills while developing a global network
– Gain insight into how engineering problems are approached and solved throughout the world

• Year in industry
– You will learn so much and information and acquire so many skills
– Improve job opportunities as employers are looking for students/graduate with practical work experience
– Experience team work and development of interpersonal skills
– Awareness of current development in the sector
– Chance of a firm offer of graduate employment

Concluding what I just mentioned above, I realized the benefits I mentioned by doing a year in industry would be something that I would be able to gain through a summer internship. I’ve did a technical summer internship last summer, and felt I’m not missing out on anything, but gaining loads! I’ve sat through 8 weeks of classes at UMD and the one thing that I love the most is the ability for me to experience how engineering problems are approached and solved from the American perspective. Also, you might think that doing a year in industry would eventually lead you to a graduate job, but that’s not true! You might not love the company you work for throughout the year, and hence would have to join your other course mates in applying for graduate schemes in your final year.

2. Can I afford?
Obviously by doing a year in industry would mean that you would be able to earn some cash to cover your rent and living expenses. Whereas studying abroad would mean that there is a chance that your bank account would go into overdraft. This did bother and hesitated me to apply to study abroad. Digging deeper into Google and finding out more from the International Programs Office (IPO) in the Atrium, I realized that I would not need to pay additional fees to my partner university. If you are an UK or EU student, you could still receive your student loan. So why not study abroad? Other miscellaneous fees such as flights and visa would cost an amount. This cost is negligible and can be covered by working a part time job on the weekend during the summer and stop spending too much on online shopping.

Here’s what I had experience in the US so far, there’s more adventures and fun to come!

20161001_171728.jpgA free-admission American football game on campus. 

WhatsApp Image 2016-10-24 at 07.04.12.jpegWhen you’re in America, do and enjoy what the Americans do – apple picking

14787128_10209917076137857_1105055199_oAnd pumpkin picking!
Pictures credits to Anastasia Gondosari, Chemical Engineering (MEng) from the University of Manchester and Evelyn Hiew, at exchange student double major in Environment Science and Geography from the University of Western Australia

It’s only eight weeks and my experience abroad had been enriching. So, head over to the study abroad fair this Tuesday, look for the next step that you’d have to take, apply and go abroad!

If you need any further information after going to the fair, you could drop by the Atrium (1st Floor in University Place) and look for anyone working international office to have a chat! They are a friendly bunch 🙂 Or if you’d like an opinion from a student who’s currently doing a semester abroad, feel free to drop me an email.

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