Education experts

Alice Wood

Jasmine Lim

Grants Officer
University of Melbourne

Ryland Sack

Education Abroad Officer
Monash University

Ashley Tanks

Hannah Bradshaw

Sydney Abroad Peer Advisor
University of Sydney

We asked them:

What advice do you have for students who are currently trying to find programs suited for them?

Alice Wood

Utilise the resources at your university. Most will have designated international study staff who run programs specifically targeting different courses. Your academics may also be able to provide advice.

Jasmine Lim

Find the reason WHY you want to pursue an international experience. Are you there to immerse yourself in the academics of your host university, are you drawn to an aspect of a culture, do you want to learn a language, are you there to be in a central location for your travels? Consider whether you want to be a part of a big, state wide University, or perhaps a small institution (e.g. liberal arts). Do you want to live in a college-like town or perhaps in a city? Sometimes students have a certain expectation of what an overseas experience may be like and then arrive at their host university and this will be completely different! Discovering the reason and motivations is beneficial in assisting with planning a budget, researching and estimating a cost of living, and discovering your comfort zones!

Discovering the reason and motivations is beneficial in assisting with planning a budget, researching and estimating a cost of living, and discovering your comfort zones!

Kayla Warner

For students looking to study abroad, we recommend that students find a match of the study abroad program based on their home degree program requirements and ideal country location. Both are important factors that influence the academic, social, cultural and lifestyle experiences of a semester abroad.

Ryland Sack

Keep your options broad; if you’re interested in a particular country to study in, take a look at multiple offerings within that country. Try not to get your heart set too much on a single option, as it is a highly competitive environment. Take a chance to travel to somewhere out of your usual comfort zone. The world has plenty of options that are waiting for you that you’ll miss if you stay too conservatively.

Ashley Tanks

There are literally hundreds of options for overseas study, so keep an open mind and invest time in researching your options. Think about your reason for wanting to go on an overseas program; is it to see a destination you’ve always wanted to go to? Is it to learn a new language? Is it to be able to study at a university that offers the best subjects in your chosen discipline? Then, narrow it down to the type of experience you want; basically, would you like to be overseas for an entire semester or year, or would you like to try to fit in a short course in between session breaks? Talk to your Overseas Study Office or Study Abroad Office as there is a wealth of information and assistance that they can offer in terms of finding the right fit and subjects for your degree.

Hannah Bradshaw

It is important for students to find a program that suits them both academically and personally. When researching for exchange programs, we advise students to search through the subject areas and Units of Study offered at the potential host university. This is important to ensure they will be able to take units relevant to their degree, so that these units can then be transferred to their academic transcript on their return. However, it is also important for students to feel passionate about their exchange destination. We advise students who are considering an exchange to select a country and city that excites them. As they will be living there from 2 weeks to a full academic year, it is important they feel comfortable in the city itself. One of the highlights of exchange is making connections with people around the globe and feeling part of a new culture. If students are overwhelmed by the selection of potential destinations and host institutions, it is advised that they chat to Peer Advisors like myself or an Exchange Advisor. There is plenty of support available.

Why is studying abroad important for university students?

Alice Wood

University graduates now have the opportunity of working in a global context. To be competitive in this wider marketplace they have to have cultural awareness and ‘soft skills’ that are widely recognised to be developed through international study.

Jasmine Lim

It gives students the opportunity to widen their comfort zones, way of thinking and way of learning. More importantly, it gives students the freedom, independence and responsibility to move to a new country, to navigate different academic systems, manage their own routine and learn as much as possible. On their return, students will be able to bring a new world view to their classrooms, way of life and reflect on fond memories of their time spent abroad while at University!

Kayla Warner

Studying abroad is important for university students as it helps build independence, maturity, develops networks of international friends/future business contacts, provides an international aspect of their degree, and allows them to see their own country in comparison to others and from an outside perspective. It is the single most life changing experience one can have during their university studies that will help them stand out in their future career.

It is the single most life changing experience one can have during their university studies that will help them stand out in their future career.

Ryland Sack

Studying abroad opens up the world to students, allowing them to view different lifestyles, cultures and mindsets that they would otherwise be sheltered from, especially in Australia. It supports students to develop self-confidence, open-mindedness and fosters curiosity and geographic and personal exploration.

Ashley Tanks

Undertaking an overseas study experience is a great way to add an international dimension to a student’s degree. It’s a unique opportunity that allows students to be locals and not just tourists. Studying abroad has links to greater graduate outcomes including one of the most important - finding employment after graduation. It is a chance to broaden academic and personal horizons, gain lifelong friends, expand cultural competencies and often times acquire a second (or third) language.

Hannah Bradshaw

Studying abroad is a wonderful opportunity for students academically, socially and vocationally. It enables students to study at world-leading institutions in their degree-area and potentially select subjects specific to their location, increasing their knowledge and understanding of their field. It also provides a highly beneficial opportunity for students considering further studies or careers overseas to establish contacts that can assist them in the future. For future employees, an exchange demonstrates one’s organisation, academic merit and cultural awareness. For language students, the benefits of living amongst the language they are studying are invaluable, providing them with situational practice in speaking and listening that they would otherwise not have in the classroom. Studying abroad also strengthens one’s awareness of his or herself as a global citizen, increasing one’s understanding of other cultures and forming friendships that will last a lifetime. Living alone in a new country greatly increases one’s self-confidence, equipping them with skills that they will continue to use and develop throughout their life.

What are some tips to make sure students get the most out of their international experience?

Alice Wood

Link your experience to your studies and professional & personal interests where ever possible. Most university programs are linked to study objectives so students can be completing a subject/subjects overseas at the same time of experiencing all the other benefits of international travel. Research your program provider to ensure they are reputable and able to deliver on you and your university’s objectives. Always, always get travel insurance and register your travel with your university and Smart Traveller! An amazing experience can be ruined if you get in to trouble and do not have adequate support services to help you out.

Jasmine Lim

Immerse yourself in the culture and academics of your host institution/host country! Take subjects that are not offered at your home university, partake in sports, join a student club or society, and learn a new language! Take public transport or rent a car and drive around town. Ask and listen to peers for their recommendations and experiences. Have fun and enjoy your travels, but don’t forget to fulfil any academic requirements of your international experience, even if that means spending a few nights in the library studying!

Kayla Warner

To get the most of an international experience, I recommend for students to push their comfort zones. Talk to people who are from non-English speaking countries and meet as many people as possible. While travelling to other parts of Australia (or whichever country they choose) is a big part of the experience, it is important to also learn and integrate themselves into their host city as much as possible. It is only the start of a person’s extensive travel experiences, so be prepared that if you study overseas, you’ll catch the travel bug and want to uncover and learn about so many more places!

Ryland Sack

Expect the unexpected, prepare to be unprepared. Some of the best moments of an international experience come from the spontaneous decisions, the surprise opportunities. Grasp them, and you’ll learn more about yourself and what you’re capable of. Your time abroad is quick, but it will leave lasting memories for the rest of your life. Make sure you fill it with things that you don’t get back home, things that you couldn’t experience anywhere else. It will enrich you and your outlook on your future self.

Expect the unexpected, prepare to be unprepared. Some of the best moments of an international experience come from the spontaneous decisions, the surprise opportunities. Grasp them, and you’ll learn more about yourself and what you’re capable of.

Ashley Tanks

The key to a successful overseas study experience is to expect the unexpected! This is all part of the experience of learning and growing as an individual. Studying overseas is all about stepping out of your comfort zone and immersing yourself in the culture of your host destination. We tell students who are about to depart to be culturally aware - mostly of your OWN culture. We often don’t realise that we carry our own ‘cultural baggage’ until we are confronted with another culture. Don’t try to push your norms and values onto someone else, but embrace the new destination, people, education system, food and culture and you’ll be able to take away more value from the overseas experience.

Hannah Bradshaw

Keeping an open mind is highly important whilst studying abroad. Living in a new country on your own can be daunting but it is also an amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity to try new things and meet new people from other cultures and walks of life. We recommend getting involved in as many activities, events and societies offered at their host university as possible in order to make friends, learn new things and get the most of their time abroad.

Staying positive when things may not go to plan and being open to new experiences greatly increases what a student will take from their time on exchange. It is also advised that students remain on top of the administration side of exchange whilst abroad, checking their home university emails regularly to avoid missing any relevant information regarding their studies. It is highly important that if students feel alone or anxious to reach out to someone both at home and at their host university to receive the necessary help they need to make their exchange experience the best it can be.

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