Studying Abroad in Hong Kong
By: Beth Ocrant (justin) 2013.10.04
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You'd like studying abroad, you think. Spring semester in London, intensive course work in Hong Kong . . . doesn't sound bad, does it?
But maybe you're unsure about what is involved to get yourself overseas. Costs? Timing? Academics? Homesickness? Here are a few pointers from one who's been there and done that (and loved it).
Like any major life event, the earlier you start planning for your time overseas, the better off you will be. There's so much to be done, and at times it can seem overwhelming. Planning ahead will make the transition much less stressful. Not to mention that if a problem should arise, and they always seem to, especially when you're planning to hop a flight to another continent, you'll have time to find a solution, or choose another program. The program that I had originally been accepted at had been cut. But I really wanted to study in England, and with some determination and foresight, I had enough time to choose a different university, and was still able to go abroad.
Where to start? It depends on your goals. Are you looking for course work or an internship you can't get at home, or do you just want to get as far away from campus dormitories as possible? First put some thought into what countries you might like and would feel comfortable studying in. You should also consider how long you would like to stay. Programs can range anywhere from a week to an academic year. After you have an idea of the location and duration, go talk to an advisor at your university's study abroad office. They can help you figure out which programs would be best for you, depending on your desires and your major. Options in hand, it's up to you to decide on your program, and your backpack. The more time you allow for this, the more likely you are to choose a program that best meets your needs.
Many people are afraid that they can't afford studying abroad. But it may not be as expensive as you think; financial resources are available if you look hard enough. For instance, there are programs that will allow you to apply any financial aid currently used at your home institution to the cost of studying at the overseas university. At the program I participated in at the University of Sunderland, England, students simply pay for the normal cost of attending their home university. I paid for Northern Illinois University, got to live in England for not a sixpence extra.
Of course, every program is different, and you should talk with the financial advisor at your study abroad office to find out exactly what types of financial aide your specific program will allow. Your university's study abroad office can also help you find scholarships. The earlier you start researching, and applying for these resources, the more money you are likely to get.
Another element that seems to deter people from studying abroad is the fear of delaying graduation. This doesn't have to be the case - unless you study in Bali, because you may never come back. Eventually though, most everyone does came back from their time abroad, and they want to graduate. For those two to be mutually compatible it's crucial that before you leave you get credit approval for the courses you want to take while away. If the classes you take overseas will count towards your graduation, get course approval from your home institution to avoid wasting time (academically, at least, but of course, studying abroad is about more than just the credits and grades.)
Studying abroad is really about more than credits from another school, or classes taught in a foreign tongue, or escaping into a different country. It's about discovery. once you are finally "in-country" and registered, lost, and like a freshman all over again at your new university, keep an open mind to different experiences. After all, you didn't go to another country to do the same things you would at home.
Photos by University of the Sunshine Coast