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The ultimate guide to studying abroad: 16 real stories from bloggers

posted by Liza 18th March 2017 0 comments
The ultimate guide to studying abroad: travel bloggers tell about their experiences in 15 countries

This post is a massive collaboration with 15 travel bloggers. Together, we composed this ultimate guide to studying abroad. Have you ever thought of studying abroad? Don’t miss your chance to immerse in the culture of one of amazing countries of your choice and to make friends from all around the world.

I already wrote a tiny essay on why you should study abroad at least once in your life, so feel free to check it out. I’m sure many students and former students encounter this important and at the same time very difficult decision of there to go to study abroad for an exchange. Well, I guess that can depend on many factors. The first factor is the partnerships of your current university. What if you really want to go to Japan but you can’t because your Uni doesn’t have connections to any universities in Japan. Another limitation is the intended duration of stay. The exchange can be either for 2 months (summer school), one semester (from 4 to 6 months) or one academic year.  That applies only if you’re participating in an exchange program. In case, you’re applying for a master degree abroad, it can last from 1 year to 2 years depending on the country. Also, your choice might be limited by the language of teaching in different universities (some Universities in Germany accept only German-speaking students, as well as some French universities accept only those, who speak French). And finally, you are limited by your very own preferences!

So I hope some reviews of former students can help to know about student life in some countries a bit better. In this guide to studying abroad, you can review about Finland, Hong Kong, Scotland, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Indonesia, Malaysia, the USA, South Africa, UAE, by the best travel bloggers:

 

The destinations:

Fiona contributed to this guide to studying abroad with her story about studying in Finland! “Welcome to Finland – the amazing country of Nokia, Angry Birds and metal bands! As a Vietnamese student coming to Finland for my Bachelor Degree in 2011, I was positively impressed with my overall experience there.
From 2011 to 2015, I took a Bachelor program in Marketing at Aalto University in Helsinki. Aalto’s Business School is the 30th best business school in Europe according to the Financial Times (2015). Aalto University itself is a young and innovative university with a unique interdisciplinary education approach in which students from different backgrounds such as business, technology, arts and design work together in groundbreaking projects. Therefore, studying here is both exciting and challenging at the same time.
Despite my busy study, I still had enough time to explore the country. Lapland is perhaps the most famous tourist destination in Finland. There are lots of different things to do in Lapland such as going on a snowmobile safari tour, sitting on a husky sledge, chasing Northern Lights and visiting the dreamy Santa Claus Village. During my time in Finland, I travelled to Lapland twice and truly enjoyed this place to my heart’s content. Moreover, I also had the chance to venture outside of Finland thanks to my Schengen visa. The most popular trips from Finland are perhaps the cruise trips to Tallinn and Stockholm. In addition, flying from Finland to other Nordic countries such as Denmark and Norway is also affordable. Therefore, I’d say travelling opportunities while studying in Finland are endless!
Due to its terrible winter, studying in Finland can be initially hard for those who are used to tropical climate. During the coldest months, temperatures in Helsinki can drop to as low as minus 25 degrees with only a few hours of sunlight every day. Nonetheless, much as I dislike the Finnish winter, my most favorite thing in Helsinki is the Vappu holiday on May 1st when the whole city flocks the streets to celebrate summer’s official arrival. After staying in Helsinki for 3 years, I realized that only after I had endured the freezing cold here could I then fully appreciate the pleasant warmth of sunlight on Vappu and the following summer days. This realization has taught me that nothing in life comes easily and we all need to endure pain before pleasure. This is perhaps one of the best lessons I’ve learned thanks to my studying abroad experience in Finland.”

Follow Fiona’s Adventures on her blog: Fiona Travels from Asia and on her Instagram!

Finland

Hannah from That Adventurer worked abroad in Grenoble, France as part of her degree and answered some of our questions about her exchange for this guide to studying abroad:

What was is, your Bachelor degree, PHD, Masters or a student exchange?

My degree is a BA in French with International Studies. It’s a 4 year course with your third year spent abroad (either studying or working) in a French speaking country. For my year abroad I worked as an English Language Assistant and taught English to primary school children in three different French schools throughout Grenoble.

Did you live in a student accommodation or rented a flat?

I found a rented flat and lived with 3 other people. We were all from different countries so it was like a real version of the French film L’Auberge Espagnole (it’s a pretty good film if you haven’t seen it!). There was myself from the UK, a girl from Sweden, a German girl and an Italian guy.

The two other girls were studying and myself and the Italian worked. We all got on well although I ended up spending more time with other English speaking friends doing the same work as me. When we did get together we’d play board games and cook each other dishes from our own countries.

How complicated was the work? Was it stressful?

Teaching English to young French children (some as young as 5) was definitely difficult to start with. I wasn’t very confident, especially when speaking French, but I had to get confident quickly! On my first day in one of the schools I found myself singing “Head, shoulders, knees and toes” to a class of 30 bewildered 9 year olds. If that doesn’t build your confidence nothing will!

Did you have time to explore the country?

Plenty! As I was working as a teacher I got all the school holidays plus primary school children don’t go to school on Wednesdays in France so I always had the middle of the week off to go skiing or visit a nearby town. During my 7 months working there I travelled to Nice & the south of France, Paris, Lyon and did plenty of skiing!

Was is actually possible to travel outside the country? Where did you go?

It was possible given that I was in Europe but I tended to stay in France and just went back home (England) for Christmas.

What did you like most about studying abroad? And about the country?

I chose to work in Grenoble because the town is surrounded by the mountains and I love skiing. The closest ski resort is just a 30 minute drive away and there are two big resorts (Les deux alpes & Alpe d’huez) just 1.5 hours away. There’s also so many cool, relaxed bars in and around the town and it was great to meet people from all over the world. There were British, Americans, Columbians and Australians all doing the same thing. You definitely make friends for life by studying or working abroad.

What did you dislike about it?

When you first make the move you definitely feel a bit lonely and wonder whether you’ve made the right decision but stick with it and make an effort to meet people in a similar situation and you’ll love it!

Would you recommend somebody else going there?

Definitely! Putting myself outside my comfort zone and moving to a foreign country was one of the best things I’ve done.

How did studying abroad impact your future life?

It gave me SO much more confidence and drastically improved my French. Although I haven’t spoken much French since graduating (3.5 years ago) I’m still able to understand and speak it well now that I’m in Montreal.

Follow Hannah’s adventures on her blog That Adventurer or on her Instagram!

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Back in 2003 I studied abroad for a semester in Marseille, France at ESC Marseille (now Kedge Business School). It was my last year of my Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree. I went with three of my good friends and we lived together in an off campus apartment in a cute French neighborhood. The university’s language of instruction was English, making the transition quite smooth. We found that since most of the other students were not native English speakers, we had a clear advantage and found the classes much easier than our classes in Canada. Our focus was not so much to develop our language skills, but to use this as an opportunity to travel. The university was really flexible and we spent more time traveling all over Europe then in classes. We would generally be in Marseille and go to classes Tuesday to Thursday and then take off for a long weekend on the train for a new country to cross off our bucket list. We had Eurorail passes and the fantastic train network in Europe made getting anywhere quite simple.

There was definitely a learning curve in getting used to a new university in a foreign country with different ways of doing things. It was helpful to have friends to work things out with and we had gotten advice from students who had done the exchange the year before. In addition to all the wonderful travel opportunities, studying abroad also gave me the chance to meet people from all over the world. Since it was my first time outside of North America, it also opened my eyes to new cultures. I loved the rich culture of France with their fantastic food, historic towns and sophisticated lifestyle. I will always remember 2 euro bottles of wine, steaming fresh baguettes and the Mediterranean climate.

I visited 11 countries in the four months I spent studying abroad, which definitely contributed to the wanderlust I live with today. At the end of my semester in Marseille, my boyfriend came over for a couple of weeks of traveling. It was in Paris where he surprised me, proposing at the top of the Eiffel Tower. France will always hold a special place in my heart and it was fantastic to return, this time with our children in 2012. I would definitely recommend the Kedge Business School in Marseille for a study abroad opportunity.

Follow Dawn’s adventures on her blog 5 Lost Together!

Krysti kindly answered our questions about her student exchange in Konstanz, Germany.

Where did you study? 

I studied in Konstanz (at Universität Konstanz) in southern Germany, right on the border of Switzerland.

What was is, your Bachelor degree, PHD, Masters or a student exchange?

Student exchange. 

Did you live in a student accommodation or rented a flat? 

I lived in a single unit at student accommodation as I’m the kind of person that needs my own space! It was fine, a little dated but I made it cosy. I had lots of great neighbours and people living close by so it was still extremely social.

How complicated was studying there? Was it stressful?

Some papers were easy enough to manage, but I was doing three papers that were way above my level, as that was the only option for my degree. It was hard work and quite different as it was mostly group work which I wasn’t used to. Thankfully my groups were all typical brilliant German students so we pulled through just fine!

Did you have time to explore the country? 

Yes there were heaps of activities organised by the university’s international team including exploring the city and many neighbouring places in the state as well. My favourite was visiting the Neuschwanstein Castle and I also took several trips to Munich, Stuttgart and Berlin with friends.

Was is actually possible to travel outside the country? Where did you go?

Of course! We could literally walk to Switzerland in less than 10 minutes. France and Austria were only a couple of hours drive away. I went to Switzerland (a lot), France, Italy, London and then travelled all over Europe for two months after the semester ended before heading home.

What did you like most about studying abroad? And about the country? 

Everything. It was my ultimate dream to live in Germany and I honestly had the best time. I loved how historical and beautiful Konstanz was, using the German language every day (most shopkeepers didn’t speak English!) and having the rest of Europe right at my doorstep. I have to also mention that I loved the German beer and food. All the food. I was in heaven.

What did you dislike about it?

That I didn’t get to stay longer!

Would you recommend somebody else going there?

Absolutely. It’s so thrilling going to a new place so different to your own, and to actually study and live there- you get that real experience. And you meet so many new wonderful people from all around the world.

How did studying abroad impact your future life? 

It changed my life completely. I wrote a small blog while there about my adventures in Germany and Europe and when I got home I missed writing so much- that I decided to create a proper blog and thus began my goal of becoming a professional travel blogger. I’ve only been at it for less than a year now but I couldn’t be happier pursuing my dream job and writing to inspire others to travel and live their own dreams.

Follow Krysti’s adventures on www.krystijaims.com 

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When I was 20 years old, I was fortunate enough to study fashion in Milan. As a fashion capital of the world, this course will be very good for my resume. It was my first time to leave my country by myself and wow — Europe is halfway around the globe so I was really anxious. There were so many buts and what ifs. It was pretty scary!

I will never forget the first day I arrive in Italy. It has always been a dream to go to Europe and with a passport like mine, it wasn’t that easy. To be in the fashion program wasn’t easy for me, too but then, I got in and I told myself that I really deserve it.

Language barrier is often one of the greatest challenges when studying abroad. In school, English was the medium so I didn’t have to sweat with my Italian. But in my daily interactions, I really found it difficult if I am not speaking the language so what I did was to try speaking even if I didn’t have any idea what I was saying. Every day, I went to markets and coffee shops talking to people working there – it’s usually the easiest way to learn a language. People have been really helpful in correcting my words and grammar. In the end, I was able to do basic communication in my everyday interaction. I realised that when you are learning a language, you don’t have to get it right the first time. The will and enthusiasm in learning are more important than anything else.
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Trisha’s Blog: P.S. I’m On My Way
Check out Trisha’s Instagram!

Adelina from Pack Me To contributed to this guide to studying abroad with the story about her semester abroad in Netherlands.

Where did you study?

I studied at Maastricht University in Maastricht, Netherlands.

What was is, your Bachelor degree, PHD, Masters or a student exchange?

It was for a semester abroad during my bachelor degree.

Did you live in a student accommodation or rented a flat?

I lived in student accommodation for international and exchange students. I lived in a dormitory previously for university so it was a very similar experience. Because my building was for exchange students, it was easy to make friends as we were all new to the city from around the world.

How complicated was studying there? Was it stressful?

The schooling system was vastly different from what I was accustomed to. Back home, my classes were big lectures with one prof doing all the teaching and the occasional question from the class. My classes at Maastricht were very small – anywhere from 10 – 15 students only. There was a “teacher” in the room, but they didn’t do much of the teaching. There were just there to observe and guide, if necessary, the classes in the right direction, not teach. Instead, it’s the students teaching each other. You were assigned a chapter or topic as an individual or as a group and then you were responsible for that one topic. It was very different from my learning previously and I found it to really stressful.

Did you have time to explore the country?

Yes, I managed to visit a number of cities within the Netherlands during my exchange semester.

Was is actually possible to travel outside the country? Where did you go?

Yes. I visited a number of countries in Europe including Belgium, France, Italy, the Czech Republic and Austria. I had a small break in the middle of my semester that allowed me to go away further away for longer and I used long weekends to visit nearby places.

What did you like most about studying abroad? And about the country?

Study abroad is a great first introduction to what it is like to live in a foreign country. I met a lot of really cool people from around the world and also learned a bunch about Dutch culture that I otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to.

What did you dislike about it?

It was confusing! As my first taste of spending and extensive period of time abroad, I was so overwhelmed by just everything. Over time, it became easier, but that first initial adjustment period was tough. I’m glad that it happened through school since they have programs in place to help students and can guide you in the right direction if needed.

Would you recommend somebody else going there?

Definitely yes! Maastricht is in a unique location in the south of the Netherlands so I went to class with Dutch, German and Belgian students allowing me to learn more about those countries as well. The city itself is beautiful and lively. In the end, I also really appreciated the learning methods they employed as I felt I actually retained what I learned that semester all these years later.

How did studying abroad impact your future life?

After this first taste of living abroad, I was hooked and I wanted a longer experience. Upon my graduation from university, I went on a longer stint abroad, living and working in Budapest, Hungary. This experience also launched what I hope to be a life long love for travel and world exploration.

Follow Adeline’s adventures on her blog “Pack Me To” or on her Facebook!

Canada Long Beach Pacific Rim National Park

Sianna from EO Stories told us about her studies abroad in Poland.

Where did you study?

I studied for one semester in Poznan, Poland last year and also took a summer course in Milan a couple of years ago.

What was is, your Bachelor degree, PHD, Masters or a student exchange?

I was an Erasmus student as part of my Bachelor degree in Design.

Did you live in a student accommodation or rented a flat?

At first I was thinking of renting a room in a flat but because not that many people were speaking English it was a bit hard to organise from a far. I also didn’t want to stress when I arrive there with no accommodation. So I rented a room in a private student dorm. My university was private meaning they didn’t provide any dorms.

How complicated was studying there? Was it stressful?

The actual application process and administrative work was indeed pretty stressful as it was really disorganised and we didn’t even had our schedule most of the time. I arrive there and it turned out that my courses were in Polish, but you learn to make it work and make the best of it.

Did you have time to explore the country?

My programme wasn’t very busy so I had plenty of time including the weekends to explore beautiful Poland with cities like Torun, Wroclaw and Warsaw.

Was is actually possible to travel outside the country? Where did you go?

Absolutelly! Most of the Erasmus students were travelling a lot, some of them every weekend thanks to low-budget airlines with 10 euro tickets.
I have visited a few countries – my favourite was having the chance to travel to the Baltic countries. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are a bit overlooked so I was happy to be so close to them.

What did you like most about studying abroad? And about the country?

Probably the people you get to meet and the freedom to travel and explore the country, people’s way of living and pushing your own bounderies.

What did you dislike about it?

I don’t think there was something I disliked. Of course there are the small things like – people not speaking English, cold winter, chaotic organisation at my school etc. But these things are just for the moment and can’t impact the whole experience. Or let’s say you shouldn’t let the ruin the whole experience.

Would you recommend somebody else going there?

I definitely would! Let’s be honest – Poland is probably not your first choice to study abroad. But it is a really interesting country that has a lot to offer and is really underrated. They have great food and drinks, prices are one of the cheapest in Europe, gorgeous architecture and nice nature and historic landmarks.

How did studying abroad impact your future life?

I really loved the overall experience but having the chance to be on my own in a totally new country with the cultural differences and challenges taught me a lot. Also, the courses at my university were really inspiring and gave me a new perspective.

Follow Sianna’s adventures on her blog, EO Stories or on her Facebook!

Poland

Nicole did her exchange semester in Edinburgh and told us about it:

Did you live in a student accommodation or rented a flat?

I lived in a Palace and it was amazing! As part of our program we were housed in a Palace outside of Edinburgh. There were about 60 students who lived in the Palace along with the professors and their families. The Palace is based on a beautiful grounds at the end of the High Road in Dalkeith.

How complicated was studying there? Was it stressful?

My program was a bit different to other programs. We had our classes in the Palace and the University actually brought over Professors so all of my credits were transferred back to my University. We also had British professors who taught Scottish history and culture. As you can imagine the Scottish accent was a bit difficult to understand at first but we got used to it. It wasn’t really that stressful because part of our courses always incorporated part of living in Scotland.

Did you have time to explore the country?

Absolutely. Every weekend we explored parts of the UK. I understand now that the program only has classes Monday to Thursday to ensure students can travel even more.

Was is actually possible to travel outside the country? Where did you go?

Our program encouraged us to travel and we had a three week break in the middle of the semester so we flew to Paris and then bought a 15 day Euro Rail pass and visited as many places as possible. I also spent a month at the end of the semester visiting London, Belfast and Ireland.

What did you like most about studying abroad? And about the country?

I love Scotland. There is something magical about the place. My favourite spot is the Royal Mile leading up to the Edinburgh Castle. The people are so friendly and my host family holds a special place in my heart. I’m going back to visit them this August!

What did you dislike about it?

Nothing really. Maybe the cost which was a bit high for us as the Pound was quite strong at the time.

Would you recommend somebody else going there?

Absolutely. I mean with all of your college credits transferring, all the history and amazing people you cannot go wrong. I have several college friends who say to me that they wish they had studied abroad. I’m so glad I took the opportunity.

How did studying abroad impact your future life?

Well, a lot! After college I moved to London and lived there for two years and I have been living abroad ever since! After London I lived in Japan and then moved to New Zealand where I am now based. I have since gone on to travel to visit 100 countries and my goal is to visit every country in the world!

Follow Nicole’s Adventures on Travelgal Nicole or on her Instagram

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In 2012 I studied in Sevilla, Spain at the Texas Tech University Center through Texas Tech. I was in the process of obtaining a Bachelor’s degree is in Agricultural Economics, but I took the class for my business minor. We all lived with host families and my host mom didn’t speak English. It was an amazing experience, it definitely helped me become better at speaking Spanish. Living with a host family was probably my favorite thing about studying abroad; I truly felt like a local! Studying in Sevilla was incredibly easy because it was a faculty led program through my university. We had three day weekends and every weekend we visited a different city as a class. We went to Portugal one weekend, which was incredibly easy because we rented a bus as a class. We only had one free weekend that my professor didn’t have planned for us and 3 friends and I decided to visit Barcelona. I ended up planning the whole trip and it really showed me how much I loved planning a trip! I hated leaving when the program was over. I got a little homesick while I was there, but in the end I wanted to continue to travel Europe. I wish I had. I would definitely encourage to everyone to stay in Seville for a while. There is lots to do and there are plenty of easy day trips to make to see more of Spain. Sevilla was the most friendly city that I have come across. The people there were so warm and kind. Studying abroad made me realize how passionate I was about traveling. Experiencing new cultures provided a whole new level of satisfaction in my life. I am forever grateful for the experience.

Read Kyntra’s Blog: Married with Fernweh or follow her on Instagram!

Seville

After getting a master degree in the field of geography and tourism from Zagreb University, I started a postgraduate diploma course (PGD) at Business & Hotel Management School (BHMS) in Lucerne, Switzerland in order to slightly change my career path.

Studying in the most beautiful city in Switzerland was a dream came true! I was 24 years old at the time and this was not my first living abroad experience so I was already a bit more serious comparing to when I just started the college. I lived in a school flat which was shared among four students (male or female only). It was big and we had everything we needed.

The program itself was interesting and well organized. After 5 weeks of classes, we had a week of exams – and like that for six months. It allowed us to devote to only few subject at the time and really learn about the topic. The other great thing is mandatory 6 month of internship after every 6 months of studying. The school assists you with allocating the internship in desired area of operations, as well as geographical area. For example, after completing the diploma course, they helped me to find a permanent job in Dubai, which had a huge impact on my personal and professional life.

You have enough time to explore Switzerland and surrounding countries on weekends and during the term breaks. Since I already explored the most of the country and Lucerne, I usually went home whenever I had some time free. You could travel outside the country without any problems, I went to Mexico twice to visit my boyfriend (now husband).

Switzerland is a great place for education and living. Calm, beautiful and extremely safe. It can get a bit boring sometimes, Swiss German has nothing to do with actual German I had some language problems and, of course, it is crazy expensive. Starting from the tuition fees to everyday life, absolutely everything is several times more expensive than you are used to.

I would recommend choosing Switzerland to anyone who plans to pursue the career abroad and – I must mention it – who can afford it, because it is extremely expensive. I am not sure it is really worth the money when you compare it with other countries. But as always, you pay for the brand and the reputation. And Switzerland is said to be the best for hospitality management education.

Follow Maja’s adventures on her blog Mexatia and on her Instagram!

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My name is Gabby, and I study in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at the American University in Dubai! I’m getting my bachelors degree in Mathematics, and a Certificate in Middle Eastern Studies As far as living arrangements, I do live in student dorms. It’s good, not as fancy as I would think for Dubai but it’s very clean, there’s a maid service, food can be delivered to my dorm room, and it’s quiet mostly.
Getting here, physically, financially, and paperwork-wise was not bad at all as I won a lot of study abroad scholarships, associated with organizations that helped me plan a lot of it out and do a lot of the paperwork with the visa and everything.

I do have time to explore the country, and I’ve been to 3 of the 7 emirates here. While studying here in Dubai, I’ve also been to Sri Lanka and Oman, and am visiting Thailand and the Netherlands before I leave.

What I love most about studying here is that Dubai and the whole of the United Arab Emirates is incredibly safe. I can leave my wallet, phone, GoPro, etc anywhere and not have to worry about it. A luxury I just don’t have at home in D.C!

Also, everyone is so so nice here, men are very respectful and I’m only catcalled or annoyed by Western men. I also love learning about Middle Eastern culture and actually learning about Islam, and not just the sensationalized information shown in the news.

What I like the least is probably the fact that it is expensive, mostly because of food and touristy things. The need to keep up an image with expensive clothes and make up is a little annoying, but if you don’t let it effect you it’s really not noticable. There really isn’t much to dislike about this place! I absolutely recommend it to someone who wants somewhere safe, exciting, and English-speaking country in the Middle East!

Read more about Gabby’s adventures on her blog Packs Light or on her Instagram!

Desert Safari

Oksana has lived on four continents and traveled to over 50 countries, and today she answered our questions about her studies abroad.

Where did you study?

I spent a semester studying at Hult International Business School in Shanghai, China
What was is, your Bachelor degree, PHD, Masters or a student exchange? It was a Masters in Business Administration (MBA)

Did you live in a student accommodation or rented a flat?

Our school helped us arrange student accommodation, but instead of staying in boring hotel dorms, we actually spent 3 months living in a 4-star hotel. It was incredibly fun, because all of our classmates stayed in the same hotel but we all had private rooms. We had daily cleaning services and a plethora of restaurants to satisfy our every craving.

How complicated was studying there? Was it stressful?

Studying itself wasn’t stressful. It was like studying anywhere else in the world, but life outside of the classroom did get pretty intense at times. We all took Mandarin classes as a part of our program, but many of us also opted to get private tutors to learn more of the local language and be able to communicate more freely. Being able to get around and understand basic Mandarin made my time there significantly better.

Did you have time to explore the country?

Yes I did. We had a 2 week break in the middle of our semester and about 8-10 of us took an amazing trip to Yunan province where we explored Yi River, hiked around incredible landscapes and got to see life int eh Chinese countryside. It was the higlight of our time in China!

Was is actually possible to travel outside the country? Where did you go?

It wasn’t easy, because no one outside of Shanghai spoke a word of English, but thanks to our Mandarin lessons we managed to get by.

What did you like most about studying abroad? And about the country?

I loved being able to explore a different country while getting my MBA. I loved that on the weekends I got time to roam around Shanghai or even go on short trips to the nearby towns. It felt like i was traveling, but then Monday would come around and i’d be back in class, being a regular MBA student. China has its ups and downs, but the overall experience was awesome.

What did you dislike about it?

I had a love/hate relationships with China. I share my experience living there in a guest post on The Planet D.

Would you recommend somebody else going there?

If you get a chance to live or study in China, take it but know that it will be a rollercoaster ride!

How did studying abroad impact your future life?

I think it was the best decision I have ever made.

Oksana St John is the writer, photographer, and co-founder at Drink Tea & Travel. Follow her and Max on their adventures around the world on Facebook!

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Now it’s time to share my own studying abroad experience in this guide to studying abroad- it was back in 2013 in Hong Kong. Also, I studied for a Masters Degree in Edinburgh, Scotland, but it’s an entirely different story! In Hong Kong, I studied at the Lingnan University during 1 semester and I absolutely loved it. I lived in a student accommodation and shared a room with my lovely roommate from China. Studying in Hong Kong was pretty easy, way easier than in my university in Russia, so I didn’t have to spend days and nights in the library. On the contrary, there was enough time to explore Hong Kong and some nearby countries of South-East Asia, such as Thailand and Indonesia. I liked pretty much everything about my exchange – I met so many amazing people from all around the world. The best thing – everyone lived on campus, so it was easy to meet and organise different activities with other exchange students.

There were also some problems during this exchange, for example, it was prohibited to cook in the student accommodation, so you could only eat salads or microwave dishes. However, it was almost impossible to buy ingredients for the salad in this part of Hong Kong, as it’s not something that locals usually eat there and the choice of microwave dishes was limited to dumplings. The only possible solution was eating outside. But anyway, it was a great experience, which led to the creation of this blog (it was a long process).

Study abroad

I studied one semester in Bali, Indonesia as an exchange student when I was doing my Bachelor Degree in 2012. I studied in Universitas Udayana and my campus was located in Denpasar. I was doing the exchange through a company (Asia Exchange) which is specialized to organizing exchange programs to Asia.

Because Bali is in (so cheap) Asia, with my student budget I could afford to rent way more comfortable accommodation option than in most places in Europe. I was living with two friends in a brand new two-bedroom villa with our own private pool so there was no complaining about the quality of the accommodation.

The studying itself was not very hard and the company through which we did the program organized everything with the University. There was 5 different courses for exchange students: Indonesian Language, Indonesian Law, Indonesian Culture and Customs, Economy and Business of South East Asia and International Tourism Management. I was studying business so these courses fitted well to my degree.

The classes were from Monday to Wednesday and on every second Thursday we had an excursion. Every second Wednesday we had workshop where we learnt different skills from Balinese dance to how to make bowls from banana leaves. I found the workshops and excursions particularly interesting and through them I learned a lot about Balinese and Indonesian culture.

Because we had long weekends we had plenty of time to travel and explore the island. In mid semester there was two weeks holiday when we had more time to travel further as well. I visited Australia on the holiday time and also made short trips to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

What I liked the most in studying abroad was that the culture in my destination was completely different than in back home which made it really interesting. My favorite things in Bali are the friendly locals, abundance of surfable waves and the beautiful nature. What I don’t like that much in Bali are the scammers and other downsides of tourism.

All in all I would definitely recommend Bali as a destination for exchange studies for anyone who is interested in studying in South East Asia.

Follow Helena’s adventures on Helena Travels and her Instagram!

Indonesia

Matthew answered our questions about his studies abroad in Malaysia for this guide to studying abroad:

Where did you study?

I studied at Universiti Sains Malaysia, which is located on the island of Penang in Northwest Malaysia.

What was is, your Bachelor degree, PHD, Masters or a student exchange?

I was completing the last semester of a Bachelors of Management degree.

Did you live in a student accommodation or rented a flat?

My wife joined me on this trip and we stayed in an apartment nearby the university. This is what most students do and although it’s not a student residence, most of the exchange students were there. We got lucky and had an amazing view over the sea. Plus, it was super cheap! What happens is the school puts you in touch with a real estate broker who helps you find a place.

How complicated was studying there? Was it stressful?

It was actually quite easy and I even managed to get all my classes on a Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, giving me ample time to travel. Everyone was quite friendly. The only difficulty for me was walking to school in 35-40 Degree Celsius weather with high humidity and then walking into a very old air-conditioned classroom.

Did you have time to explore the country?

Absolutely! Penang itself has a UNESCO World Heritage site (Georgetown), which was interesting as well as some jungle but mostly we left to explore the rest of Malaysia or other nearby countries when we had a chance.

Was is actually possible to travel outside the country? Where did you go?

We were in the heart of Southeast Asia, which allowed us to explore many cheap, beautiful countries. During our studies, we took off to the Philippines for three weeks, Singapore for a few days, Borneo for a couple of weeks, and many parts of Malaysia. Once the semester ended, we stayed in Southeast Asia for another 6 months and visited Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, and China.

What did you like most about studying abroad? And about the country?

Studying abroad was an interesting experience, especially in a country like Malaysia, which is so different from Canada. As a Muslim country, we were often awakened by daily prayers, which felt so exotic at first. We also dealt with a lot of different cultural norms, which was a great life-learning experience. Although Penang certainly wasn’t our favorite place in Southeast Asia, we did meet a lot of cool people and the food was absolutely incredible!

What did you dislike about it?

As much as I liked the experience of being in school, I didn’t find it incredibly challenging. Then again, I think most exchange students are mostly looking for the experience and a demanding workload, which can be done in one’s own country. Otherwise, I can’t say I didn’t like all that much. I think a lot of it depends on the other exchange students you meet.

Would you recommend somebody else going there?

Absolutely! Malaysia is so cheap and so close to many other beautiful countries. Penang is a fusion of Malaysian, Indian, and Chinese cultures, which is why there is such incredible food there. Most of our meals were no more than $1-2. Just make sure that your apartment has a pool as it gets quite hot and the surrounding seawater isn’t great for swimming.

How did studying abroad impact your future life?

Travel in itself is life-changing. Even if you don’t notice it right away, there’s no question that spending time in a country with a vastly different culture than your own is mind-opening. I don’t think I learned much from the school (likely my fault for traveling so much) but the experience of actually living and studying in another country is something I’ll always remember. In fact, I wish I could go again!

Follow Matthew’s blog at http://www.LiveLimitless.net or follow him on Instagram!

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In my second year of university in 2010, I studied abroad in the United States of America at the University of Colorado at Boulder. My undergraduate degree was a Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies in Advertising & Marketing. However, it was slightly difficult to match up subjects from the communications side of things, so I ended up doing mainly marketing subjects during my study abroad. I would recommend getting into classes as early as possible – I left mine too late and ended up in a bunch of senior classes. It was kind of hard, but I didn’t let that get in the way of having fun. I was there to enjoy the experience rather than get perfect marks!

I lived in student accommodation, and was lucky to have a dorm room all to myself. It would have been a great experience to share with a roommate, but I was a bit older than the freshman so I was happy to have my own space. My classes were good, but quite different from the teaching style I was used to back in Australia. Giving a presentation was a daunting experience; as soon as I began to speak, all the bored eyes in the classroom were glued to me and my accent!

I travelled to the Bahamas on a cruise during my time there, but other than that I only travelled to other parts of America. I had plenty of time to explore, as I arrived about a month before school started, had plenty of chances to take weekend or mid-semester trips, as well as about a month to travel after I finished. I loved studying abroad because it was a completely different learning experience, and it taught me to be more independent.

Halloween was a massive highlight of my time studying in the USA; they go absolutely all out, and the vibe is incredible! I also loved going to sporting games, such as college football, ice hockey or basketball games. The school spirit of everyone in colleges in the USA is like nothing I have ever seen.

I believe that my study abroad experience has impacted me well in the seven years since, as employers seem to look favourably on international learning and working experiences, as it shows that you are independent, curious and interested in other cultures. I would absolutely recommend anyone who is thinking about studying abroad to just do it – you’ll have no regrets!

Follow Courtney’s Adventures on her blog COURTYSTEVLT or on her Instagram!

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Eemma from Always A Gringa shared with us her experience in South Africa!

Where did you study?

I studied in Cape Town, South Africa through Michigan State University’s Teaching Abroad Program.

What was is, your Bachelor degree, PHD, Masters or a student exchange?

This program was for my Masters degree in Teaching and Curriculum. During this time we studied the country’s educational system and taught in a local school for 4 weeks.

Did you live in a student accommodation or rented a flat?

I lived with a host family for 4 weeks in a suburb of Cape Town, where I also taught at a local school. When traveling I take advantage of any opportunity to really learn about the people and the culture, staying with a host family was a great opportunity to see the country on a deeper level. The other two weeks of our trip I lived with 14 other girls in my program in hostels and houses as we traveled around the country.

Did you have time to explore the country? Where did you go?

Studying in South Africa wasn’t much of a challenge for me personally since we were accompanied by our study abroad advisor the majority of out time. I didn’t have the pressure of learning a different language either since English is one of South Africa’s national languages. Our study abroad leader is from South Africa and planned all of the details of our trip, which made everything run extremely smooth and took away most of the stress that comes with traveling.

While we didn’t have the opportunity to travel outside of the country, we were able to travel extensively in the greater Cape Town area. Our program was extremely small, only 15 girls, and we spent a lot of time traveling and teaching together. A few of the activities we engaged while there were shark cage diving, bungee jumping, zip-lining, trekking downTable Mountain, a safari and sticking our toes in the freezing cold water where the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean meet.

What did you like most about studying abroad? What did you dislike about it?

My favorite thing about studying abroad was hands-down the people I met. The people of South Africa are impervious, forgiving, and hopeful for the future. This study abroad was one of the best decisions of my life! I made some life-long friendships, invested time in the lives of South African students, learned about the South African culture and how South Africa’s not-so-distant history with apartheid is extremely reflective of current events in the USA.

Would you recommend somebody else going there?

I would definitely recommend study abroad to everyone as well as taking the opportunity to travel to South Africa. It is such a beautifully diverse and historically rich country. I felt so connected to the country and its people because we spent a large amount of time studying about the country’s history and its education system.

Follow Eemma’s adventures on her blog, Always a Gringa or on her Instagram!

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Wow, it’s been a lot of reading, right? Hopefully, you are more certain about where would you like to study abroad now. You can help the others, by spreading the word about this guide to studying abroadt, so don’t hesitate and save it on your Social Media!

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