Firstly if you’re debating a year abroad – do it! It was honestly the best year of my life and I’m already planning my return! I was originally thinking about a year abroad in France to improve my French but then realised I would hate to write technical French engineering essays/reports (although it could be useful). I really wanted to use my year abroad to explore and learn other styles of studying both of which I have done.
I was lucky that doing a year abroad didn’t add to the length of my degree (I’m on a 4 year programme) some people who I met from Leeds also going to the same university as me (McMaster University, Canada) opted to make their degrees integrated masters and others believed that an extra year was worth it to be able to study and live elsewhere for a year. There was the minor worry for them about friendship groups changing but they could still be around for masters etc, or you’ll make new friends – after a year abroad you’ll be so much more confident and it can really make you more employable as it shows of your adaptability.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions prior to leaving – I asked lots of my lecturers in Leeds about modules, if they knew anything about Canada and general experiences, one directed me to one of their tutees who had just returned from Canada so I was able to ask lots of different things to put my mind at ease.
The excitement of going on a year abroad really made me make the most of the end of my year in Leeds, it propelled me through exams and really made me cherish that final summer. Once abroad it all flew by and I took every opportunity that I could. In terms of funding I worked hard for the summer between 1st and 2nd year and the summer prior to leaving alongside the loans available to me I could afford it but it’s also worth having a chat with your parents about emergency funds should you need it.
Being away has also made me incredibly excited to return to Leeds for my final year. While abroad I met people coming on exchange to Leeds this year so it’s like I am extending my year abroad.
I honestly can’t recommend the whole experience enough, yes there were minor periods of home-sickness, for example my birthday (a week or so after arriving) and Christmas (opted to spend it with family friends in Vancouver) but these are definitely overshadowed by the incredible opportunities and experiences that I was presented with. Studying abroad for the year has also made me realise that I could go and live elsewhere for my career, if you are debating it – go for it! And if you’re not sure – really really consider it! Just be prepared for wanting to go back!
Written by Kit Wolverson – McMaster University