The Application Process to Study Abroad

It’s been another year and a half since I last posted on here. I’m still living in the capital city of Washington, D.C., working in communications and enjoying life. This month is the five-year anniversary of when I first began the process of studying abroad. Looking back, I realized I hadn’t really talked about the application process of studying abroad, with my entries mostly being filled with my trip details and how life in England was. I figured I would take the chance to talk about the topic.

In February 2012, I emailed my university’s study abroad office about my interest to study abroad. I knew I wanted to go to England, because that’s where my brother had studied abroad and also where my father had been stationed in the 70s when he was in the AirForce. Another reason I wanted to go was because I wanted to be in a country where the native language was English. I was already going to be out of my comfort zone, and drew the line of wanting to be able to understand the language.

That being my personal preference, most colleges offer programs to a variety of countries. I’ve known people who went to Italy, Spain, France, and even Australia. Since my university is so small, there were only two options for England: attend Kingston University in London, or Edge Hill University outside of Liverpool, the latter of which I chose. Your college’s website usually has more information on what study abroad programs they offer. Here is my alma mater’s for a reference.

The entire process from when I had the first meeting with the study abroad director to when I got my acceptance letter was about three months. First, I had to get approval from my academic advisor, and the dean of the journalism school. This required filling out a form of courses that Edge Hill offered that could count toward credits for my journalism degree. I mostly ended up filling elective credits since not all UK courses were equivalent to the type of classes I needed from Bonaventure in order to graduate. Again, this is another factor that can differ depending on what school you go to and what your major is.

Second, I had to get two written recommendations. In this case, I had my supervisor from my summer job and one of my high school teachers serve as them. I sent them a form for them to fill out and then send to the study abroad office. All of this material was gathered together, then sent off to Edge Hill. My acceptance letter came in early May, right when I got home for the summer.

But the process didn’t stop there. Over the summer, I got a required physical from my family doctor. I also got a passport, which I did by going to the post office and filling out paperwork, getting my picture taken and paying the fee, which was about $115. This is New York State’s fee, I think it can differ from state to state.

Booking my flights were not too hard, but expensive. For some reason, despite my city’s “international” airport status, we couldn’t find any direct flights to Manchester, England, and I ended up having to get a layover in Chicago. Ironic, considering that meant flying west to go east. But it was the cheapest option, costing about $1,000. Instead of searching on one airline’s website, I used the website Hipmunk which allows you to search several airlines simultaneously. In retrospect, I definitely recommend saving up if you plan to study abroad.

On the topic of money, I also ended up getting a credit card. I was only 19, but having a credit card made paying for things easier. My American bank card worked okay, but I already had international fees adding up from using it abroad and it was nice to have an alternative.

And that’s pretty much the process of applying for a study abroad program. Thanks for reading!

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