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How to travel while you study

Inspirational quotes touting the benefits of the well-travelled life are aplenty, but most of them are right: “Adventure is worthwhile,” as Aesop said. Travel teaches you more about yourself and the rest of the world than any other experience can. I should know, having travelled abroad myself to London for a short summer course, I was able to see what I was truly capable of, experience another culture, and prepare myself to work and think globally.

Though there are many paths to take when one wishes to travel abroad, I looked to the Uni of Newcastle Global Office on Callaghan campus to get ready for my outbound journey. The University’s exchange and study abroad programs can be the first international experience for many students, providing a controlled environment to enjoy and explore a new country.

Whether it’s for the sheer enjoyment of experiencing a new culture, or to take overseas classes for university credit, why not take the leap and see what programs are on offer at our University? And who knows – you might discover things about the world or yourself you never would have realised without global travel.

What are the options for travelling as part of your uni experience?

Whether it be a semester exchange, an academic short course, an internship or even a volunteering position, there is an overseas experience out there to suit most students.

Mobility Officer at the Uni of Newcastle Global Office, Adam Elhindi, said the student exchange program offered allows students to, “choose from either a semester or one year exchange at one of [our] many prestigious partner locations around the world.” You remain enrolled and paying tuition at the University of Newcastle while you study at a partner university overseas, earning credit towards your degree at home..

This means you get to travel, return home and not have to worry about studying any extra courses to catch up. Likewise, the academic short courses on offer also let you do just that, but not have to commit to any long-term stays.

There are a few requirements that you’ll have to meet to be eligible, including a minimum cumulative GPA of 4.5, so it’s the perfect motivation to continue to ace your studies. You will also need to have completed at least 60 units of your program if you are studying an undergraduate course, or be enrolled in a postgraduate course as well as receiving a minimum of 30 units of credit toward your program.

Short courses are less than a semester exchange and are generally between two to five weeks in duration, typically run during the winter and summer breaks.

For students who are interested in an overseas internship program, opportunities do exist. They remain a valuable experience in not only gaining hands-on work experience, but also increasing your employability in a global context.

Adam said many degrees are now allowing students to complete an internship overseas either as part of a compulsory requirement, or as an elective. “Some degrees are now offering opportunities for a group of students to travel overseas with their academic and be taught while abroad.”

What is the difference between exchange and Study Abroad programs?

Through an exchange, students study at one of the University’s partner institutions for either one semester or one year. During this time, Adam said, “You remain enrolled at Uni of Newcastle, which means you do not pay any tuition fees to the overseas university.”

“Through Study Abroad, students can pick a non-partner university, which means a student must pay the tuition fees upfront to the overseas institution, for the semester or year experience,” he said. It’s totally up to the student to choose which program they prefer to undertake and either would offer invaluable experiences.

What do I need to know to study at another institution?

There are many things to prepare before embarking on an overseas study or trip, such as applying for a passport and visa, and organising travel insurance. However, other things you need to consider are organising credit for your degree and finances for your travel.

Regarding credit, Adam suggests researching the University’s partner universities to find out which locations are going to work for your degree, and to look at your program plan to work out the best timing.

“As for finances, there are plenty of financial assistance options available through the University,” Adam said. These can include Australian Government scholarships, the University’s OS-Help loan (which helped cover most of my expenses for London), the Global Traveller Semester Exchange Grant, or college-specific scholarships and grants.

Financing an overseas trip on a student budget can be hard, but with so many assistance options available you shouldn’t hold back from the opportunity!

How do I know a given program will count towards my degree?

“Students can work with the University Global Office, Program Advisor and their Discipline convenor to check if an overseas experience is going to work in their degree,” Adam said.

To undertake an overseas exchange or study abroad program, students will need to gain credit for a minimum of 30 units of credit per semester while overseas. For short courses, you’ll need a minimum of 10 units of credit for the course.

It’s also important to know that the units or courses you study overseas need to correspond to courses within your degree to be credited. For core courses, your chosen overseas course will need to be similar to the Uni of Newcastle course for it to be considered for credit. Electives, on the other hand, don’t need to correspond to any specific course at your uni. So, if it’s possible, plan ahead to take electives during your exchange program.

And remember: gaining approval for credit is your responsibility, so make sure to get on top of it as early as possible.

How can I apply?

“To apply for a semester exchange, internship, study abroad program or volunteering position, students need to submit an Expression of Interest before the closing dates,” Adam said. You can find more details on the University website for dates, deadlines and a step-by-step guide to get you started.

In no time at all, you’ll be exploring the countryside in Nice, swimming in Santorini, sipping tea in the Cotswolds, volunteering your time to help various communities throughout the globe, or interning in Tokyo.

Wherever your overseas study, volunteering or internship program takes you, remember to make the most of the experience.

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