I am worried that I will not find any friends. Is it hard to meet new people?

  • There are so many opportunities to make friends abroad, from your accommodation to your classes you will be surrounded by people in the same situation as you. Also look out for an ESN section or International Students group in your new home town, it’s a great way to meet new people and discover your host country. I made loads of friends going to weekly socials held by the Erasmus group in my host city in Spain, and it was great to have a support network of other exchange students if I had any questions or worries.


I get homesick often. What is the best way to prevent/deal with that?

  • Take advantage of today’s technology: Skype your family and friends regularly if that helps, but be careful not to become too engrossed in your life back at home! You’ll realise that everyone misses home at some point, but make plans with your new friends or go to ESN events to meet new people - you’ll see that everyone is friendly and just wanting to make the most of their time on their exchange!


Is going abroad expensive? Is there any financial support?

  • Understandably, money can be a big concern for many students considering studying abroad. It’s good to start thinking about budget early on, once you know which countries you will be applying to. Depending on which part of the world you will be going to, you’ll need to factor in the cost of flights, insurance, and other living costs which vary between countries. You (or SAAS) will still be paying your tuition at your home university so that will not change. Good thing is, most universities have a section on their website about student budgets, which can act as a guideline when you are thinking about money stuff. If choose to study in Europe, you might be eligible for the Erasmus grant, so yes, you could get financial support! For destinations outside Europe there are also some university grants that you could win, however I would advise not to count on those as there usually aren’t many available. It’s a fact that the further away you go, the more your exchange is likely to cost, but if you start your application at the beginning of your second year, that still gives you a full year to save money before going on exchange. Personally, I had a part-time job during my second year, worked full-time over the summer and took out a student loan before I went on exchange. Once I was abroad, I kept a monthly budget to make sure I didn’t run out of money in the middle of the year. Good luck to everyone saving money for their exchange, I know it can be a bit annoying but just keep the end goal in mind: you will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to live in a new country, which will probably more exciting than anything you could be spending your money on right now!


Do the grades that I get on exchange count? Will credits from my studies abroad be transferrable?

  • This varies between different subjects, so it’s best to double-check with your Go Abroad Subject Coordinator. I can only speak for the College of Social Sciences, but the grades we got during our exchange did count. For every host university, there is a conversion table available which shows how your grades will be converted into Glasgow grades: the grade percentages are matched to make the conversion as accurate as possible. So yes, for Social Sciences, all grades are transferrable. However, you should not worry about losing your good GPA or chances of graduating with a good degree - if you focus on your studies there is no reason why you wouldn’t get similar (or better!) grades at your host university. In fact, the conversion tables can often be quite generous, at least this was the case for me!


What was the hardest thing about your exchange?

  • Personally, the hardest thing about exchange was the workload. I had weekly continuous assessments as well as assignments and exams, which was a lot on top of adjusting to a new city. However, this isn’t anything that can’t be dealt with by managing your time well and getting the right balance between work and your social life. As well as this, there is always a support network for exchange students and your overseas tutors are really helpful if you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed about anything.


How long can I go abroad for? Is it better to go for both semesters or just for one?

  • Depending on the country you choose and the subject you study, you could have the choice to go on exchange for either one semester or a full year. I went to the USA and chose to do both semesters, which, in retrospect, was the best decision for me. It allowed me to get the most out of this experience. For a big part of the first semester I was adapting to the new environment both personally and academically. Going for a full year gave me the opportunity to develop long-lasting friendships, to travel more and to experience Maryland and the surrounding areas at their best! When the time came to leave, Maryland certainly felt like home. That being said, I do believe that if someone prefers to go just for one semester it would be a worthy and very rewarding experience too!  


How do you decide which country to study abroad in?

  • First things first, decide whether you want to study in Europe (on Erasmus+ exchange) or further afield (on International Exchange). Let’s assume you choose to study abroad in Europe, like I did! The next thing you should do is make a list of the countries that interest you and start researching which Universities in those countries have a partnership with the University of Glasgow, and more specifically, which have a partnership with your subject area. Once you have done that, the final step is to start looking into the courses offered at the partner Universities. Try finding the best matches you can (Don’t forget the language they’re taught in!) with those you would normally do in the next year if you weren’t going abroad. Discuss them with your subject coordinator if you have any worries. If they are approved, you’re all set. It’s quite a dull, mandatory process. However, when it’s done, the adventure begins!


I have never travelled alone. Do you have any tips?

  • Travelling solo can sometimes seem daunting. However, it can be a great experience! It will definitely get you out of your comfort zone and in the end it will make you more independent and build your confidence. One tip would be to plan ahead as much as possible! Know where you are going and how you can get there. These can save a lot of stress and panic during the trip. But even if something goes wrong don’t panic! Everyone has missed a train or two. At the host University, it will get much easier as there will be an induction week and plenty of societies for incoming students to make you feel welcome, meet new friends and adapt more quickly! I strongly believe that travelling solo is a unique experience that will enrich you!  


How is studying abroad going to affect my life (socially) back at my home university?

  • I can only speak from personal experience but life back at your home university rarely changes dramatically, your friends remain the same and it’s easy for everything to fall back into the same routine that you had before you went away (regarding accommodation etc). If anything, studying abroad enhances your social life back at university as it gives you the opportunity to join societies like ESN and meet more new people. Likewise, you are often put out of your comfort zone studying abroad and have to make new friends from scratch which definitely makes you a more confident and sociable person, and these are great transferable skills for life back in Glasgow. Of course there are a few cultural changes to get adjusted to back at your home university but nothing that’s too hard to handle.


Is it hard to adjust to a new culture in such a short period of time?

  • Depending on the country you are planning to go to for exchange, the new culture you will experience can be slightly or drastically different. One of the most crucial things to remember is to not make any assumptions about how things work. Be ready to be learn to work with the new culture and to understand the new way of doing things. It’s important to be open-minded and ready to embrace and appreciate the cultural changes. It might not all be your cup of tea, but it’s an enriching experience so make the most of it! In addition, there will always be many international students there, going through the same process as you. However, I also believe that trying to meet local students is also very important and probably the easiest and best way to adapt to the new culture of your host country!  


I am going to study in a non-English speaking country. Is it going to make my everyday life more difficult?

  • It is very common for students thinking of studying abroad to be worried about the native language spoken in their country of preference. Truthfully, English as second language is certainly not spoken at the same level across countries. But don’t let that be an obstacle in your choice of country! Instead, try to engage with learning a new language as a valuable asset to your CV and a helpful tool for your everyday life! On a personal note, I studied abroad in the Netherlands, and frankly, you can ask anyone in English for directions; from a old couple that you come across to a young Dutch student! This not the case for all countries, however. Speak to international students, returning students and friends about this. They are the ones who will give you a clear picture of everyday life in their country regarding English! Again, leave your comfort zone, there are no opportunities there, language-wise and adventure-wise!


Will I suffer from culture shock? How do I deal with it?

  • It is inevitable that your daily life will not be exactly the same in your host country, but this is a good thing! Studying abroad is a great way to experience new cultures. You may only notice the difference in cultures in little things like having to eat your meals at different times or not being able to find any shops open on a Sunday! Whatever the differences, once you adjust to your new way of life you may start to prefer it! When I was in Spain, I was constantly confused why there were no shops open at ‘Siesta Time’ between 2pm and 5pm, but when summer arrived, I was glad to be in the habit of resting at home at the hottest time of the day. Be open to all of the new cultural experiences that come your way, as these are the things that truly make your time abroad unique!