This list is adapted from www.thirdyearabroad.com “100 reasons to study abroad”. Visit the website to get lots more helpful information, straight from students who are taking or have taken part in a study abroad opportunity. There are lots of hints and tips for how to survive abroad, and they offer advice and support for all stages of the process.

  1. The majority of graduates describe it as the best part of their degree course.
  2. You have the opportunity to study new topics not available to you here, and experience different methods of study.
  3. You become very self-sufficient and independent and grow up a lot and very quickly.
  4. Being thrown in at the deep end in a new country has its challenges– those who come out the other side with you will be friends for life.
  5. You meet people from other countries and build yourself an international network which may be helpful for your future career.
  6. You will learn and understand foreign customs and traditions, which will be helpful for international business negotiations in the future.
  7. There is funding available – grants and scholarships on top of a student loan means it shouldn’t cost much more than studying in the UK.
  8. For those in a relationship, you can continue long-distance. Cheap flights, free video calls and free messaging apps all make it possible, and not so difficult to cope without seeing each other everyday. You know what they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. For those not in a relationship, many exchange students have met their future wife/husband during their study abroad. Maybe this will happen to you …
  9. If you study at a foreign university on your semester abroad it will look fantastic on your CV. Employers will be fascinated and impressed by your semester abroad experiences in interviews. You are showing future employers (and yourself!) that you can be thrown in the deep end and cope with a variety of intense good and bad situations, and get something positive out of the experience. Your semester abroad experiences are perfect interview fodder for their questions along the lines of “give me an example of when you excelled in a difficult situation”.
  10. Many graduates find that their future career direction is influenced by what they do on their semester abroad.
  11. If you are considering moving abroad after you graduate, you can scout around for a place to live and make useful contacts to pave your way. The connections you make on your semester abroad can also help you to get holiday internships and work placements.
  12. You can write a diary, keep a blog or a journal or create a vlog to record your experiences abroad. It will help you remember everything that you did whilst away and gives you something to look back on in years to come with a smile.
  13. On graduation, you don’t just have to scout the UK job market for opportunities - the world is your oyster!
  14. There is a huge support network available to you – QMU, your host University, friends and family from home and your new Exchange friends.
  15. You can spend time finding and researching a fascinating final year dissertation topic, and with knowledge from lecturers from your host University, your dissertation could be a step above the rest. You may also make contacts at the university overseas who will help you if you wish to pursue a Masters or PhD.
  16.  Once home you have more to say for yourself, so you become more confident and better at networking, possibly leading to better job opportunities.
  17. Your social media updates will make everyone outrageously jealous and want to come and visit you. Encourage those friends and family to visit you. You can dazzle them by reading up on the history and culture of your semester abroad destination and being a brilliant personalised tour guide for a couple of days.
  18. You don't have any dependents, a mortgage or 21 days’ holiday a year – now is your chance to get away before joining the rat race. This is a fantastic opportunity to travel and see the world.
  19. It’s your chance to start fresh. Change your routine, eat healthier, be more adventurous. The experience is what you make of it, so make the most of it
  20. It’s an opportunity to practice your photography skills – not only for the numerous study abroad photography competitions open to you on your return, but also for your own personal photo album or journal, and to show your friends and family.
  21. You can join foreign sports teams and clubs and, in so doing, pick up new techniques or tactics which your home team might not have thought of. This is the same for music, art, writing, etc.
  22. You can learn about the local art, history and culture to understand about the world from a new perspective. Access new resources such as libraries and cultural centres, for fresh and inspiring information, perhaps from a different viewpoint.
  23. Use this experience to get out of your comfort zone. Back home, you shop at the same supermarket, fill your basket with the same stuff, see the same people, do the same things. Finally you are being forced to try new food, make new friends and have new experiences, and this can only be a good thing!
  24. Become less materialistic. Surviving on an airline luggage allowance will help you realise what’s really important to you, and having a relatively small number of belongings means it's easier to pack everything up and go travelling.
  25. It’s an opportunity to discover your spontaneous, impulsive side. Other countries are often just a quick train ride away. If it’s money you’re worried about, then cut down on partying/drinking/eating out, and reward yourself by spending what you’ve saved on a road trip or rail adventure.
  26. If you’re near the Alps: learn to ski! If you’re in a market town: master bartering! If you’re by the sea: try kite surfing! If you’re in a city with a tall tower: climb to the top of it! Now is your opportunity, and the worst thing would be to come back and be asked about something you didn’t even try.
  27. It will help you to appreciate home more. You may develop a true allegiance to the brands you love. Cadbury’s, Marmite, PG Tips and Kellogg’s; I promise I will never take you for granted again.
  28. When you come back, you will be able to help foreign students studying in the UK based on your own experiences and help students who are yet to start their semester abroad experience.
  29. New friends on exchange could mean new (cheap) holiday destinations 
  30. You are more likely to regret the things you don’t do… 

Exchanges and Study Abroad

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