Studying abroad is a bigger challenge than one would think! To be honest, I didn’t expect it to be as much work as it actually is. Of course, the first step is finding a subject and place that interests you. What would you like to study? Biology? International relations? Engineering? Where would you like to study? In the UK, to improve your English? In the Netherlands, which is still nearby and the culture is similar to your own? Or somewhere completely different, like Japan, to get a completely new beginning?
I wanted to study Linguistics or Psychology or some kind of combination and chose to apply for universities in Scotland, which is not too far away, English speaking and has an amazing culture!
Obviously, it’s not just finding your way but also getting there! I had to research a lot about the different courses and universities. I had to find universities which had suitable entry requirements considering my previous school marks. I couldn’t just apply to a university with a 1.2 Abitur requirement as I don’t have these grades! So, find the universities that have the courses you like and which are likely to accept your application, because I tell you, an application is a lot of work and you don’t want to waste it!
As a next step- the application. For me this was the most difficult step. I don’t have any work experience which, to be honest, doesn’t look too good on your application and I didn’t know what to write. Do I write a page about myself? What are qualities that sound good and not fake? To begin with, what are my qualities? I had to reflect a lot about myself and of course, asking mum was the most used option since probably primary school! In the end I had a finished application which of course didn’t really sound like any of the google examples one reads to get ideas but was, according to others, pretty good. Nothing you write on your own ever sound good to yourself so ask others about their opinion! I asked my mum, some of her friends and some of my friends.
An advice for anyone considering applying in a foreign country: check that you have the right credit cards to pay the application fee!!! I send my application on the last possible date and luckily my mum, who was in the US at the moment, had the right credit card and gave me instructions over Skype where to find the information for it. Don’t make the same mistake! If you don’t manage to send your application on time, the university may not consider it! (And it’s a lot of unnecessary stress!)
After all the application stress all that’s left to do is wait. I waited for about two months to get answers. I got two rejections and two offers. Don’t forget to answer to your offers! If you forget, then the universities can take their offers back and you did all for nothing! The offers can be unconditional in which case you’ve got the place or conditional, like my offers, in which case you’ll have to wait to get your Abitur marks (of course only if you apply before you graduated) and see if you meet the conditions. I’ll get my marks on Tuesday so I am very excited to see if I meet the conditions the universities set.
After you decide what university has the best offer, you’ll need to find an accommodation. Accommodation is probably the most expensive part of your study abroad so keep that in mind when applying. Of course it depends where you want to live but for me, staying in Scotland will be between £5000 and £6000 for accommodation only! Don’t forget that even though we don’t have tuition fees in Germany they are pretty common in other countries. The US is a lot more expensive than the UK and England is more expensive than Scotland but it still is money you and I need to remember! For tuition fees you can apply either to BaFög or as I did, to the respective option in the country where you want to study. For me it was the SAAS, the Student Awards Agency Scotland.
At the moment, I can only wait for my Abitur marks but after I get them the work certainly isn’t done. Things we don’t even think about need to be arranged. What about insurances? A doctor and dentist? For some of us, also a gynaecologist. You’ll need a bank account and maybe some kind of bus ticket and lots and lots of other stuff! As I said, applying in a foreign country is a lot of work but in the end it’s totally worth it as you gain new experiences, new friends and new skills as well! So if you want to study abroad: think about it, consider what’s possible for you and try it! Don’t hesitate!