By Lauriane Fons, final year Marketing & Management student at Queen Mary, who studied abroad at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy and who is one of our wonderful Global Opportunities Ambassadors!
Don’t get me wrong, studying abroad can be pretty challenging on many levels (speaking from experience) and the application is the very first step of it. That is why, today, I am going to guide you through the process by giving you a set of tips to help you make it as smooth as possible.
Take your time…but plan!
Like any other application you may encounter in your academic and professional life, the Study Abroad one might take you some time, from: thinking of destinations to submitting your final documents. The deadline for this year’s round is the 24th of NOVEMBER 2022. You’ve still got time, no worries; plus, if you are reading this, keep going. You are on the right track! You need to think through the process, and go step- by- step, with as little pressure on yourself as possible, so you don’t believe you are making mistakes and/or forgetting any vital of information along the way.
Ranking preferred destinations
The best way, in my opinion, to choose your 5 destination choices from the wide range of Queen Mary’s university partners is to classify them according to your own criteria and only select the ones that tick all your boxes. Here are some examples: prioritising school reputation over destination, being in a big city rather than a small town, being in a specific country, financial criteria (see below), etc. QM offers a bunch of destinations reserved to departments and that , could also help you with your selection. For instance, if you study Finance or Marketing, you might want to aim for a business school. Try to come up with a maximum of 8 to 10 institutions and mark them with stars or out of 5.
Then, what really helped me to narrow down my choices was to discuss my options with my academic school coordinator and get some recommendations based on my field of study, and what I was looking to get from this year abroad. Finally, if you are unsure and hesitant between a couple of destinations, make a list of pros and cons! In any case, don’t stress it too much, you will still have a great time anywhere you go!
This tip is very much related to the previous one. It is a criterion to take into consideration whilst making your choices. There is no doubt in saying that going abroad is an investment and will cost money – more or less than London, depending on the destination. Therefore, it is critical to know your options to support yourself while abroad before submitting the application. That could be a student loan, your own savings from previous jobs, help from family, Turing Scheme, etc.
I suggest you look at this Go Abroad page and/or talk to the Advice and Counselling Service. They will be very helpful in guiding you. The last thing you want to do whilst on your exchange semester/year is be preoccupied with money and how much you have left. Make a list of all your resources and a budgeting spreadsheet (e.g., divide by months/weeks), and compare it to the “Estimated Costs of Living” of each country made by QM. It is necessary to know beforehand, so no surprise comes your way mid-exchange.
PS: Enjoy your exchange programme as much as possible, because the time really does fly! You will want to explore the country/city as much as possible, making new friends, etc. If you think you might not have sufficient financial resources, consider different destinations (e.g. Europe will be much cheaper than Australia or Asia).
Personal Statement and CV
Here comes the most stressful part… yeah, I know, been there, done that… we all tend to avoid this step as much as possible. But apart from your grades, and other criteria you might be marked on, these two documents are the most important. This CV is not that different from any other CV. You can even double-check it on QM CV Builder. As for the Personal Statement, well… make it personal!
Two of my significant pieces of advice are making multiple drafts and being as authentic as possible. Talk about yourself and show what makes you a person with an international mindset who is seeking to share cultures and experiences with other like-minded people. Explain what makes you want to study in this city or discover that culture. Eager to learn a new language? Mention it! Willing to visit this museum you have been thinking of for years? Name it! It is all in what this year abroad will bring you as a student and an individual. Stay focussed on your first choice, but don’t forget to also talk about your others! I recommend booking an appointment with the Career and Enterprise department to double-check and receive feedback on your CV.
Keeping up with the process
At QMUL, we use the Mobility-Online platform including the student’s “workflow” view to upload documents and keep a tab of where you are in the application process. The Global Opportunities team will also initiate contact with you via Mobility-Online throughout your mobility application (and if successful, your exchange itself) to ensure a smooth journey.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for important emails in your QMUL inbox that might come your way. My last piece of advice would be to turn your notifications on and flag important emails.