Hello! My name is Joeille, and I am a third-year Politics and International Relations student, currently on exchange at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. A year ago, I was in the same position as you, sorting through my options for my year abroad and, admittedly, stressing over my application. I know first-hand that it can feel quite overwhelming, and you might not know where to start, so here are some tips for writing your application for your exchange!
Tip 1: Research, research, research
Studying abroad is a big change, and there are so many opportunities and possibilities. That’s why it’s incredibly important to do your research. Before you start to think about writing your application, I would recommend setting some time aside to go through all the options available to you, depending on your school, and think about what suits you best. Fortunately, the QMUL Global Opportunities website goes through every partner university, highlighting academics, student life, and level of competitiveness.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s time to go to the partner universities’ websites and learn about their study abroad programmes, the experiences of students there, and other important considerations such as financial costs. I would personally recommend drawing up a pros-and-cons list so you can keep track of what you like – or, importantly, don’t like – about each destination!
Tip 2: Don’t limit yourself
As I’m sure you know, you’re allowed to select up to 5 options for your application, and I would recommend filling up each one. Of course, it’s important to be passionate about your choices and think about why you want to go to that destination, but don’t limit yourself before doing your research. Before I started the application process, I had been set on putting a university in Japan as my top choice, but after looking at all the options available in East Asia and talking to other people who had done their exchange in that region, I decided that Seoul was a better fit for me. Now, I’m incredibly happy that I changed my mind! Try to keep an open mind.
Tip 3: Find your motivation
Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity no matter where you go – there are new friends from all across the world to make, new sights to see, and a million new experiences to have. However, there’s something unique and different about every single destination, so try to tailor your motivations for studying abroad to where you want to go. I was attracted to Yonsei because it offers courses about East Asian International Relations – a special interest of mine – and because of its location in the heart of Seoul. More broadly, I wanted to go to Seoul due to its up-and-coming position on the global stage, and my interest in Korean culture. Similarly, maybe your dream destination has a fascinating history, or the university itself provides you with exciting opportunities. Why exactly do you want to go to that specific destination?
Tip 4: Your compatibility
My final tip relates directly to your personal statement. It’s a good idea to think about why you’re a good fit for the destination which you’ve chosen. What is it about you that means you would thrive there? This could be anything from a particular interest in that country’s history and culture, to an affinity for the language, or a skillset you developed through past experiences that could help you adapt to that new environment – and more! Make sure you tailor the characteristics and qualities you speak about to your destination so that you can show why and how you are compatible.
Overall, I know that applying to go abroad can be stressful, especially when managing your application alongside your studies. I hope that these tips help, and please feel free to reach out to me with any questions. Your application is simply a stepping stone for what is sure to be a life-changing experience abroad, so best of luck, and look forward to everything that is to come!