You Can’t Afford NOT To Go

The thought of studying abroad has always been in the back of your mind, but you don’t think that you can ever afford to go.  And this is where I tell you that you are wrong.  Financing is the factor that holds most prospective international students back from living their dream, but in all actuality, spending a semester abroad costs the equivalent of a semester at home.  Once you have picked your jaw off the floor and stopped rolling your eyes in disbelief, check out these figures:

Now let’s look at this a little more closely.  We’ll use my home undergraduate university as an example.  The tuition and student fees I paid as an in-state student was $3,700.00 per semester.  Standard housing tacks on another $3,425.00 (per semester), and the average meal plan costs about $2,195.00 (per semester).  These three fees add up to a whopping $9,320 (and that is not even including textbooks).  How do you pay for this extraordinary fees?  Most students finance college with a mix of financial aid, personal loans, scholarships, and personal funds.

Now let’s look at a university in England.  International student fees are much higher than home fees. At the University of East Anglia, the fee for a full year is £12,300 (about $19900).  On campus standard accommodation costs £76.93 per week (about $124), and there are no meal plans offered.  This means that the university requires £16,300 (about $26,348 per year).  So how can you afford to study abroad with all of these absurd costs?

Most US programs have partnerships with locations abroad, cutting the cost of tuition and fees, and sometimes arranging housing.  For example, my home university (a SUNY school) has arranged for students to pay home tuition fees rather than the international student tuition cost.  And since you will not be on campus for the semester, home universities normally reduce student fees as well (cutting the cost of the tuition and fees from $3,700 to $3,120).  So instead of a $19,900 international student tuition fee, you are looking at a reduced home student fee of about $3,200.  Factor in housing and the elimination of exorbitant meal plan cost, and you are looking at the total cost of studying abroad for one semester being a measly  $5,928.

Even once the additional trip costs are added onto the bill the cost of studying abroad ends up being surprisingly inexpensive.  Not having a meal plan saves big bucks.  I spent about $50 every two weeks on groceries (as opposed to the $135 every week my home campus had me paying for the cheapest meal plan offered).  Health insurance, a necessity while traveling, is free as long as your company covers international trips.  MedEx, a required service that covers emergency security and political evacuations, is $30, and though the program fee varies, it is usually about $500.  Airfare will be the second most expensive fee for your study abroad experience, averaging at about $900 for round trip tickets (at least to London).  After adding up all the stray numbers, you are looking at an entire semester studying in a foreign country for only $8,000.  No, I am not joking.

And financial aid may still be applied to study abroad programs.  Personal loans may still be taken out.  Scholarship opportunities actually increase because you are now a valid applicant for international awards.  And don’t forget the power of family and friend fundraising through sites like GoFundMe and IndieGoGo.

So next time you think “Oh, I can’t afford to study abroad” try again.  You can afford it.  The average home tuition fee is between $10,000 and $30,000.  With the partnerships between international and American universities, studying abroad can end up costing the same, or sometimes even less, than a semester at home due to reduced student fees and the opportunity to buy your own groceries.  So no more excuses.    Go fill out those applications and start planning your trip.  You won’t regret it.

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Busted

   . Misconceptions:
Debunked

UK/Britain/England

These are not all the same thing.  The United Kingdom is a sovereign state that includes Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  Great Britain is the “main” island, and includes three countries: Scotland, England, and Wales.  England is the largest country within both the state of United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain.

“British” accent

There is no “British” accent.  There are nine regional dialects in England: Southwest, Southeast, London, East, East Midlands, West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber, Northwest, and Northeast.  What’s in an accent anyways?

“Cheerio!”

Sorry to disappoint, but “cheerio” is quite archaic and the English do not tend to actually use the phrase, nor do they normally say “spiffing,” “pip pip,” “fearfully,” “I say, old chap,” or “jolly good.”

Time for tea

Despite the 119,000,000+ cups of tea that have been consumed in England to date, there is no designated “tea time” in modern England.  Tea time is anytime that there is time! Now try saying that five times fast.

Bad teeth

This one is just outdated.  Picture the nineteenth century, a time that predates modern dentistry.   England is a driving force in world politics.  So, for years people are in the spotlight, and dental hygiene does not yet exist.  Get where I’m going?  An age old stereotype was born, when the reality of the situation is this: modern England is actually topping the charts for having the best teeth, with an average of just 0.6% of a tooth decaying per person.  How’s that for bad teeth?

London rain

Image

England has gotten a bad rep for having bad weather and incessant rain, but the country actually enjoys a fairly pleasant climate, especially when compared to other parts of the world.   The United Kingdom lands spot #48 for total precipitation, lower than Australia, The United States, and Japan!

English food is bad

Even BBC is worked up about this one.  England has many culinary claims to fame, including the invention of the modern sandwich and chocolate bar, 158 Michelin-starred restaurants, and world renowned chef Jamie Oliver.  Also, despite popular belief, fish and chips is not the only (or even favorite) dish, nor is Yorkshire pudding.  It’s curry!

Warm beer

Select beers are indeed served warm, but the majority of English cider, lager, and ale is “best served cold.”

All hail the Queen!

No, not every Englishmen knows the Queen personally.  No, “God Save the Queen” is not England’s national anthem.  No, the Queen does not rule England (she is the symbolic head of the country, but not the actual leader).  Surprised?

“Wrong” side of the road

Driving on the left is not wrong, nor is it unique to England.  Australia, Japan, Thailand, South Africa, Kenya, Pakistan and India, and many other countries follow this practice.

FAQ

What currency is used in the UK?

The United Kingdom uses the pound sterling.  There are eight commonly coins (1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1, £2) and four commonly notes (£5, £10, £20, £50) used.  Do not be alarmed if you travel to different countries within the UK and receive notes or coins that look different from what you are used to.  Banks outside of England may produce their own currency, but as long as it is pound sterling, the money is still valid anywhere in the UK.

I heard the UK uses a different clock…

The United Kingdom does use the 24-hour clock.  An easy way to learn how to convert to back to the 12-hour clock is to subtract two from any hour above twelve.  The second number is the time.  For example, if it is 20:00, it is 8PM (20-2 = 18).  If it is 16:00, it is 4PM (16-2 = 14).

What about the date?

Indeed, the United Kingdom does write the date differently than the United States.  You write the date, then month, then year.  If it is July 13, 2013, you will write 13/07/2013.  Easy enough, right?

So what kind of government does the UK have?

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy, meaning the Queen is in charge, but has limits placed on the control she has.  The head of government is the prime minister, and the legislative branch is called Parliament.  You can visit the Houses of Parliament or Buckingham Palace (the Queen’s main residence) in London.

houses-of-parliament

Is the UK diverse?

Although 85% of the population is described as “white” by the 2001 Census, one in eight people in the United Kingdom were born overseas.

But they all speak English!  This will be a piece of cake…

Although English is the national language, the differences between American English and British/Irish/Scottish/Welsh English can be overwhelming.  Words have different meanings, phrases may sound foreign, and interactions will surprise you.

How much money should I expect to spend while abroad?

As with any spending, the amount differs per person.  I spent about $80 on groceries every month, and close to $30 on additional food (take-aways, coffee, on campus snacks).  Plan on spending about $5 per load for laundry, and $3 round-trip for the city bus fare.  And do not forget to factor in other travel expenses.  All in all, I would say to bring anywhere from $1000-$3000 spending money.

Can I get scholarships to study abroad?

Yes.  There are numerous websites dedicated to study abroad scholarships.  Don’t forget to take advantage of your home campus funding as well.

What is the drinking age?

The legal drinking age in the UK is 18.

Can I drive a car?

To drive a car in the UK you must be at least 17-years-old, hold a valid driver’s license, and own insurance.

Do I need a visa?

If you are studying in the United Kingdom for less than six months, you do not need a visa.  If you are planning on staying for longer than six months, you will need to obtain a Tier-4 visa.  You need a Tier-4 visa to work in the UK regardless of how long you plan on staying.

When should I apply?

Most programs require applications at least one semester prior to the intended study start date.  Once you have selected a program, visit their International Student page to obtain more information on the specific application requirements.

How is the weather?

Contrary to popular belief, it is not always raining in the United Kingdom.  The weather can change very rapidly, so be prepared for anything.  Be prepared for cold in the winter and spring (about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, possibility of snow).  The fall and summer months are mild, so don’t expect anything too hot or humid.  I suggest packing a variety of outfits in order to be prepared for whatever the weather throws at you.

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More questions?  Feel free to post them in the comments!

Spotlight: University of Nottingham

. UoN Postgraduate Spotlight .

Ranking: 24
Admissions Requirement: 2:1 or higher
Cost: £13,000
Funding: Yes
Crime: Very Low
M-F: 49:51
Green: Average

English MA Programs:

Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching MA
Applied Linguistics MA
Communication and Entrepreneurship MSc
Creative Writing MA
English and American Studies MA
English Literature MA
English Studies MA
English Studies PGDip
Literary Linguistics MA
Viking and Anglo-Saxon Studies MA

Research Opportunities:

Centre for Regional Literature and Culture
Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics
Institute for Name Studies
Centre for the Study of the Viking Age (CSVA)

Things to Do:

Galleries of Justice (interactive 14th century crime and punishment museum) + City of Caves (Joint Ticket: £9.75
Nottingham Castle (£5.50 for castle’s museum, art gallery, and Brewhouse Yard museum), Newark Castle, Belvoir Castle
Creswell Crags (£2)
Sherwood Forest (Robin Hood’s home)
Green’s Windmill
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem (England’s oldest pub)
D.H. Lawrence’s birthplace

NottinghamMontageSkyline

Choosing A Uni

As an international student, your time abroad should be based on several factors: where you want to be located, how much money you are willing to spend, student life, academic credibility. This quick guide will help you get started with the difficult decision of choosing a university.

Location:

There are twelve regions in the UK to consider when selecting a place to study, nine of which are in England.  So start thinking: Do you want to be near the sea?  How close to London do you want to be?  Is England the country for you?


Finances:

Most universities in the UK are extremely affordable, but prices for international or non-EU students can get pricey.  Just remember, since you are studying abroad it is likely your college (or a partner college) has an arrangement set up to decrease the cost.  For example, you might be required to pay tuition and fees to your home campus, and in return you pay housing to the school abroad.  Also keep in mind that there are dozens of scholarships designated for students who wish to study abroad.  Take advantage of any free money you can get your hands on!

Student Life:

Just like at your home university, you are going to want clubs to join and events to attend on campus.  If there is a society you are in and would like to continue while on your semester (or year) abroad, check the prospective school’s website to check they have the club you are interested in.  Or, better yet, join a new group!  There is no better time to try something new than while abroad.

Prestige:

One thing many students think about is the credibility and ranking of the university they are applying to.  This is when online research will really come in handy.  Sites like The Complete University Guide offer a comprehensive look into schools in the United Kingdom, providing information on everything from teacher-student ratios to how green the campus is.

10 Reasons in 10 Words or Less

Worldwide Academic Reputation
Eleven UK universities made the Top 100 list for 2013.

History
The UK dates back to 927 AD.  That’s pretty old.

Music Culture
Ever heard of The Beatles, David Bowie, or Coldplay?

Royalty
They have a freaking Queen.  Queens are cool, right?

Pubs
With over 1000 breweries and 51,000 pubs, why not?

Location Convenience
Gateway country: travel around the UK and into Europe.

Literary Fame
Spenser, Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens, Dahl, Rowling: shall I continue?

Language Authenticity
England is the birthplace of the English language.

Landscape
The UK has rolling hills, fertile lowlands, and beautiful seasides.

Cuisine
158 Michelin-starred restaurants, and inventor of sandwiches and chocolate bars.

Why Go Abroad?

You’re in college enjoying friends, parties, and Thursday night drink specials downtown, so why should you even consider going abroad?  Other than the obvious (everyone has super adorable accents and you get passport stamps), check out these five reasons you should grab an application and fly away now.

FIVE: Break the Chain

You’ve heard so many stereotypes: “The French are smelly,” “Drunken Irish,” “Russia: Vodka and Communists,” or “Those smart Asians.”  Why not go prove them wrong?  Sure, some of the people you will meet abroad will fit their brand, but you will be genuinely surprised by the majority of what you learn.   Also, it does not hurt to show that not all American’s are fat and ignorant!

After getting home you will have a new understanding of both your country and the one you visited.  You may have thought you were open minded, but your travels will expand your thinking and understanding of the world.  When others are talking about how great/terrible America is, you will be able to share your knowledge and experiences to show just how right or wrong they are.

FOUR: Lifelong Love Affair

No, it is not what it seems (although who knows, maybe some mysterious and sexy stranger will catch your eye).  This love affair is with the country you visit.  Your time abroad may be limited, but the experiences you gain and the feelings you have will shape you and stick with you for life.  The country becomes part of who you are.  It will seep into your soul, and you may not even realize that this place, this country you have spent mere months in, has become your home.  Being separated from your host country at the end of your journey will make your heart throb and your stomach ache, but remember, your time abroad is never truly over.  Any time a place you visited is mentioned, you hear the accent, or you see a local brand you will perk up and let nostalgia sweep over you.

THREE: Independence

Yes, you’re already living on your own at college, but chances are you’re still relying on your parents and worrying about their approval.  When you are abroad, you are completely on your own.  You don’t know anyone.  You can’t just give your parents a ring on the telephone.  You are left to make your own decisions and form your own path.  Is it scary?  Of course!  It is absolutely terrifying.  But it is also one of the most thrilling and liberating feelings you will ever have.  Your travels will shape your opinions, mature your actions, and reform your outlook on life.

Things like finding where you are going, knowing how to find the best travel deals, and cooking all of your own meals will help you grow.  Don’t know how to read a map?  By the end of your stay you will be able to.  You’ll also be able to give and take directions, navigate the subway or tram system, order taxis, and read a time table.  Looks like you will never have to worry about navigating around a new place again!

TWO: Adventure

This one may seem obvious, but the amount of opportunities available abroad are unbelievable.  You’ll find yourself snagging cheap tickets for weekends away, stealing peeks at drool-worthy celebrities, and trying things your mother will cringe over and your father will pat you on the back for.  Concerts, book signings, crossing rope bridges, exploring world-renowned galleries, befriending taxi drivers, or sneaking extra cheese samples: there are so many things to do and places to see that you will never be bored.

Low on funds?  Want a fresh take on travel?  Try Couchsurfing.  Just pick where you want to go and send a request to a host.  It’s free accommodation and a great way to meet interesting locals.

Or maybe you’re looking to stay on campus.  Remember how you loved your Thursday night drink specials downtown?  Well, many universities abroad have bars,  pubs, or clubs right on campus.

ONE: Unbreakable Bonds

This one may sound cliche, but it is the best part of studying abroad.  The friends you make will become your family.  These will be the people you spend your semester (or year) partying, studying, and relaxing with.  These are the people who will support you and eat Chinese for breakfast with you.  They won’t judge you when you make a terrible decision and will jump at the chance to go somewhere new.  They will be the ones convincing you to do that thing you are just too afraid to try on your own.  These will be the people you travel the world with and travel the world for.

 

So why travel?  To fall in love, not with a person, but with a lifestyle.  Once you have had a taste of the magic of living abroad, you will never want it to end.  The jealous looks you’ll get back from all of the people who stalked your Facebook albums while you were gone will definitely make it worthwhile as well.

Interested in studying abroad in the UK?  Learn more.