For Nordic students wanting to explore the possibilities of studying abroad, the process of figuring out when, where and how to apply can seem so daunting and demanding that it’s tempting to give up before you even start. After all, we’re familiar with the process of applying in our residential countries and choosing to study there equals the comfort of having your friends, family and hometown close when uni life becomes a little overwhelming. However, choosing the comfortable option doesn’t necessarily mean choosing the right one, and it’s a shame to deprive yourself of a unique opportunity by not attempting to apply abroad out of fear and confusion about the application process. But what is the best way to start this process and how can you make it more manageable? Today, Felice, Co-Director of our Admissions & Outreach team, shares her experience, tips and tricks on where to start the journey of pursuing your dream of studying abroad.
As is the case with many students wanting to study abroad, the idea had lingered in the back of Felice’s mind for a while before she decided to actively pursue it. The deciding factor was the lack of courses at Danish universities that suited her interests, which sparked her process of researching what other options were out there.
“I decided to look abroad. Here I found very different options, and crucially universities abroad often let you combine your interests relatively freely with either joint honours programs or major/minor options. This really appealed to me.”
Because of the lack of resources and guidance counsellors and teachers that were knowledgeable about the process of applying to foreign universities at her high school, Felice quickly found Google and doing her own research online to be the best tool in figuring out where and how to start the process. In Felice’s experience, you can never do too much research. This also opened her eyes to many universities and course options that she hadn’t initially considered, as they weren’t part of the traditionally defined top universities she had been introduced to.
“This was actually when I found NSAC and the conference, and this turned out to be a great resource. Especially because it opened my eyes to universities that weren’t traditional “top universities” but nevertheless great for the fields that I was interested in.”
Evidently, this was a life-changing discovery. Realising the many great possibilities she had for studying abroad at places not included in the Ivy League or Oxbridge category changed Felice’s perception of what studying abroad could mean - and how it was actually a very realistic option. If there is one thing she wishes she had known before starting her own process of applying abroad - and which she would recommend prospective applicants to do - it is to explore the options outside the traditional top universities and courses that Nordic students are normally introduced to.
“I just wish I had a better understanding of what my options were, outside the top universities. There are so many great options that you don’t think about initially, but it just requires a bit more research.”
In fact, Felice ended up deciding to apply for none of the universities she had initially imagined herself attending, and is now in the process of applying to Trinity College in Dublin, where she hopes to study a joint honours degree of History and English Literature in autumn later this year - a combination of subjects that wouldn’t have been available had she only considered her local options.
By researching the possibilities and not hesitating to ask questions and seek out help when applying got tricky, Felice also got in contact with like minded individuals and people who had been through the process before. This offered invaluable guidance and helped her overcome some of the challenges she faced along the way.
“I originally applied in the UK, and speaking to people who had already gone through the UCAS application process was invaluable. It saved me so much time and energy I would have spent worrying.”
The main advice Felice offers based on her own experience with applying abroad is therefore to just start researching and looking into all the different options available, as soon as the thought of studying abroad enters your mind. Realising the broad range of options and finding and reaching out to people who have been through the process themselves or who are knowledgeable about it can save you a lot of confusion and time and make the process more manageable. The biggest mistake you can make is never to get started at all, so as Felice puts it: “Just go for it!”