Start planting the seed now for your semester exchange

Studying on an exchange is an excellent, once-in-a-lifetime experience. There’s no question about the amount of preparation which goes into your semester abroad: the application, budgeting, accommodation, sorting enrolment – the list goes on. By getting started on your application now, you can take a lot of stress out of the lead-up to it. And best of all, you don’t have to plan it on your own. The UON Global Team is here to make it as effortless as possible.

To get the inside scoop on studying overseas, Navigator spoke with Sonja Rakanovic who completed a semester at the University of Leeds and the UON Global Team. Here’s everything you need to know to get you well on your way!

Planning

With more than one hundred partner universities available, there is no shortage on where you can undertake your semester abroad. However, you need to make sure they actually offer courses relevant to your degree. In order to undertake an overseas exchange, you will need to gain credit for a minimum of 30 units of credit per semester and for short courses a minimum of 10 units of credit. This will require you to collect the info about your proposed overseas course, complete the study plan/credit agreement form and provide your application for approval.

An easy way to get around this is by leaving your elective subjects for your semester abroad. While this does involve altering the timeline of your program plan, it will make things a lot simpler long-term. You don’t want to decide too late that you have no electives left and can’t be awarded course credit for your core courses.

Program plans for each degree can be found in the program handbook online, and are really helpful when planning ahead. The earlier you can identify courses which need to be swapped, the easier it is to accommodate this during your degree.

“Luckily my program had quite a few electives which meant that I could easily transfer credit,” Sonja explained. “A lot of my friends who didn’t have electives found it easy to transfer credit for their compulsory courses, this is why it’s important to pick a uni which has a similar program to yours.”

A tip from the UON Global team is that if your degree program is quite strict you can also consider a short academic course. These courses go for around four weeks and allow you to complete 10 units of study at locations such as Denmark, France, Hong Kong, Norway, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

Finances

Getting on top of things early will give you plenty of time and a head start at drafting your budget! Some fees associated with programs can include airfares, accommodation deposits, meals, phone and internet charges, visa and passport fees, spending money and textbook/supplies.

Did you know financial aid is available? You may be eligible for OS-Help which is a loan that is added onto you HECS/HELP debt (up to $7988). Other scholarships include Australian Government Exchange Scholarships and Global Traveller Grants.

If you’re looking to study overseas as cheap as possible, there’s a lovely expression along the lines of “if you’ve got no cents to your name, go to Asia”. Generally you will find accommodation and living expenses will be a lot less costly, as well as numerous scholarships targeted at that region, such as The New Colombo Plan Scholarship Program.

Sonja was grated the OS-HELP loan which was a massive help as is it paid for her whole accommodation. Fortunately she didn’t have to pay her tuition fees upfront which meant her casual wage could be saved for the cost of living and she made sure she budgeted for food, activities and travel.

Contact the UON Global Team

So you’ve decided you want to study overseas – well the best thing you can do is drop in and visit the UON Global Team! This team is dedicated to working with students hoping to go on international experiences including exchange, short courses and internships. If you’ve got a question, they will absolutely be able to answer it.

To make things as simple as possible, the Global team run drop-in sessions for students three times a week:

  • Callaghan: Wednesdays and Fridays 1:30-3:30 at the UON Global office.
  • City Precinct: Mondays

Prior to her exchange, Sonia contacted the UON Global Team to discuss her options (something she highly recommends). Your Program Advisor and Course Convenor can also be really helpful in working out what credit is transferable for the overseas courses you wish to take.

Still not sure about studying overseas? According to Sonja, it was really was the best experience from her time at university.

“It’s such an enriching experience in so many ways and immersing yourself in another culture and country will really open up your worldview. And as clichéd as it sounds, you do come back a different person. You’ll meet so many amazing people (I met two of my best friends in Leeds) and you’ll also likely get the chance to travel around whilst you’re studying abroad. I strongly recommend study abroad to any student.”

On top of that, the experience of organising and completing your semester abroad will provide you with a level of personal development and experiences no other component of your degree can offer, and give you transferable skills desired by employers everywhere.

 

The locations available and steps to follow if you’re are wanting to go on an overseas experience as part of their degree can be found on our website: www.newcastle.edu.au/studyoverseas 

If you would like some further guidance or would like to register your interest for a semester exchange the Mobility team are contactable on study-overseas@newcastle.edu.au