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Studying for a term in Vienna and teaching over the summer in Palestine

Capres, a joint honours Sociology and Anthropology student talks about her experience of studying abroad for a term in Vienna as part of the Erasmus programme and teaching English in Palestine funded by Santander Universities. Find out about her time abroad, what she gained and her tips for how you can get involved.

Copenhagen Q&A

Daniel Deefholts, a BA Politics and International Relations student, reflects on his term studying in Copenhagen.


Q: How did you feel when you found out that you had been awarded a place on the Study Abroad programme?

A: I was thrilled. Managing to secure a place months before the frightening reality of Brexit began to fully kick in was a big deal for me.

 

Q: How did you feel about your host university before you left?

A: It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study at the University of Copenhagen. Growing up, I studied at one of the lowest performing high schools in Croydon so the chance to study at one of Europe’s top-ranking research universities was a rare opportunity.

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Mythbusting: Go Abroad

We explore the top five myths and misconceptions around going abroad, and explain why there’s nothing stopping you from gaining international experiences!


Going abroad is too expensive

There is funding available from Erasmus+ and Santander Universities of up to £1500 to support study, volunteer and work abroad opportunities, as well as additional funding for widening participation students and students with disabilities. You will also still continue to receive your student loan while abroad.

Lauren Haley, a BA Anthropology student, said, “As a student from a low-income background with the stresses of rent to pay during summer break I would not have been able ‘Go International’, particularly as an unpaid volunteer, without this bursary.”

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Vienna Q&A

Stephanie Guinn, BA English student, answers questions about her Erasmus semester at the University of Vienna.


How did you find the application process?

I found the application process quite straightforward. It’s similar to writing a personal statement for your UCAS application. I just thought about why I wanted to go to that country, what I was interested in getting out of the experience and how it might help my studies.

 

How did you manage your money?

I would recommend saving some extra money before you go, just so that you can make the most out of all the opportunities that might be on offer. The Erasmus grant does help, and I used that for my semester travel card and food shopping mainly. But if you want to do any extras like travelling to nearby cities, or taking part in the events and trips that your Erasmus university might offer, then the extra money definitely helps. I did weekend trips to Prague and Budapest with some of the Erasmus students that I met in Vienna, we went to a Viennese ball, and I got to go skiing for the first time through a trip that the Students’ Union in Vienna offered too. They were so all much fun and definitely added to the whole experience.

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Data Science Summer School in Wrocław, Poland

Sam, a Media and Communications student, attended a two-week data science summer school in Wrocław, Poland. He was awarded funding from Santander Universities to help cover the costs of his placement.


I decided I wanted to take advantage of the Go Abroad programme but came to the idea quite late. Looking around on the internet, I came across the Data Science summer school in Wrocław. I’d always wanted to try and work on my computer programming skills after several aborted attempts at self-education throughout my adulthood, and I’d never been to Poland but I knew that it has a fascinating history, so I took the plunge.

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Learning French in Toulouse

Katherine Karr, a MA Cultural Policy, Relations and Diplomacy student, completed a French language course in Toulouse. She was awarded a £300 Santander Universities Go Abroad bursary to help fund her experience.


As a Canadian student, when I was younger, I took my elementary school years of education in French. From a young age to about 13 years old, I was completely fluent in both English and French. However, when it came to go to High School, I decided to go to an English school where I didn’t have any opportunity to uphold my second language. This led to me, sadly, losing my ability to speak in French. Although I took a few classes, I knew if I truly wanted to regain my bilingualism I needed to go back into an immersive experience. It is for this reason that I sought out an immersion class in France while studying at Goldsmiths. After looking online, I discovered that Toulouse has an intensive 2-week program that was meant for intermediate learners – it sounded perfect!narrow river with boats parked on the left and a narrow path with overhanging trees to the right

For two weeks I lived with a French couple in the outskirts of the beautiful Toulouse. I went to class every morning where I engaged with other international students or recently immigrated individuals who were trying to either learn French from scratch or improving their abilities like me. I learned rather quickly that the group was quite diverse (and that I may have underestimated my abilities by being in a lower level class) and eager to learn just like me. However, getting to live with a French family who spoke little English pushed me to speak in French all the time when I was out of class and really made me feel immersed in the language. Although the classes were useful, the immersion was truly what worked for me.

One of the highlights of my every day schedule was going to the little bakery on the corner – picking up a baguette for breakfast or just chatting with the shop owner after a long day of class and work. The pace was very different to London and was a good reminder that sometimes it’s a good idea to just slow down.

My biggest challenge while abroad was that I sprained my ankle badly. Although in the UK I knew what I would have to do, being in France – and on a religious holiday weekend – I realized I had no clue what the process was or how to find a GP. Thankfully, my host family was very gracious and offered to help me get medicine and even book a doctor’s appointment. Although I’ll be healing from the injury for several months, I am very grateful to have had the support of locals. If I had one tip – other than making sure you have travel insurance of course – it would be to ensure you have at least one local friend while you’re abroad. You might feel inclined to hang out with other expats or internationals, but in times of crisis it’s nice to have someone who knows the area.

Overall, my experience going abroad with the Alliance Toulouse and Go Abroad was amazing. Not only did I get to have a structured class to practice French, getting to live in an amazing city like Toulouse where not many people spoke English was a huge plus. I really got to feel immersed in the culture and would not exchange my experience for anything.

The funding for this opportunity was provided by Santander Universities.

London2Copenhagen

Second year Sociology student, Abigail Joseph, shares her experience of studying abroad as part of the Erasmus programme. She spent five months in Copenhagen, her first trip abroad for a while and the longest she had ever been away from home. Find out more about about studying abroad for a term.


My time in Copenhagen was full of ups and downs, though in the end there were definitely more ups.

There were lots of things that took a great deal of getting used to. When I first arrived at my student accommodation – which I had applied for through the University of Copenhagen a few months before arriving – I was taken aback. The room looked smaller than it had in the pictures online, and it was bare. A trip to the shop and unpacking my things definitely helped, as well as the arrival of my roommate. It made the space feel more warm and homely, but it was very different to what I had at home.

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How to write a great Go Abroad application

Whether you want to study, work, or volunteer, Go Abroad funding is competitive, so how do you write an application that stands out?

The Global Opportunities team offers their best application tips and tricks to give you the best shot at success.


Do your research

You need to explain why you have chosen that institution/organisation and why that particular country. What attracts you about your destination? Is there a specific part of the culture that you love? Does the institution/organisation do unique work? What would you gain here that you wouldn’t gain elsewhere?

If you’re applying to study abroad you may want to speak to the Erasmus Academic Coordinator in your department for advice on the institutions available.

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Volunteering with refugees in Greece

Lauren Haley, a BA Anthropology student, spent a month working with migrants and refugees in Athens with the help of Santander Universities Go Abroad funding.


Following a successful application for Go Abroad funding, I spent 4 weeks in Athens volunteering with refugees/migrants. Despite extensive attempts, the informality of organisations supporting refugees/migrants due to lack of central funding meant it was quite difficult to plan ahead. However, the flexibility of the Santander Go International Bursary meant I could still receive this financial support by providing evidence part way through my placement. When arriving in Athens, through the initial outreach I made prior to flying, I was put in contact with an autonomous organisation who provide teaching by volunteers in squats, as they cannot access state-facilitated education.

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Interning in New York

P Johnson, a BA History of Art student, completed an internship at a museum in New York over the summer. They were awarded a £1,000 Santander Universities Go Abroad bursary to help fund their experience.


Thanks to funding provided by Go Abroad I was able to travel to New York City for an internship at the Queens Museum in August 2019. I found the internship through the help of my tutor at university which I am incredibly grateful for. As part of my course I needed to spend some time in a work placement to partake in a research project, and mentioned that I would really want to travel, especially to somewhere like New York, if possible. She put me in contact with the people at the Queens Museum, and after a series of emails and phone calls they were happy to host me. We agreed on me spending roughly 3 weeks at the gallery and I decided to extend my trip to an entire month in order to really get a good amount of time to explore the city. This trip was to be my first time in the US, and because I was going to be travelling along for a fairly long period of time I was initially incredibly nervous.

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