The idea of going to uni overseas can throw up all kinds of questions. It's natural that a few of them are around the logistics of transporting Marmite / proper tea over international borders, but there are bound to be others: what's the study experience going to be like? Will classes be taught in English? What facilities are on offer at the uni? How well do graduates do in the job market?
If you're looking into leaving the UK, you can get answers to these questions and more in a few ways – many of them face-to-face. Here are just some of your options...
Before you meet and greet, it's always helpful to spend a little time online. You might find answers to some basic questions, as well as finding out the areas you'd like to ask the experts about when you do meet them (more below).
Our site has some helpful info to get you started, including a look at how international study works in some of the most popular destinations for UK students. If you're new to the whole idea of studying abroad it's a good place to begin.
Study Abroad Fairs
If you want to get a lot of information in a short space of time and meet staff and students from overseas unis, study abroad fairs are great. They do pretty much what it says on the tin: gather a lot of unis in one place to talk to UK students about international study.
You can find out what it's like to be a student in various countries and what the opportunities are – anything from spending a semester overseas to a four year degree programme. The largest events are organised by The Student World in cities including London and Dublin, where you'll be able to meet representatives from institutions like the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. There are also seminars and lots of info to help both you and your family get informed.
UCAS Higher Education Conventions
These conventions have been dedicated to UK unis in the past. However, new regulations allow you to apply to an overseas uni through UCAS so you can now meet international unis (such as the University of Groningen) there as well.
Fairs and conventions are usually well attended and can get busy, so it's always handy to plan your visit ahead of time. Have a look at the website to work out a shortlist of people or places you definitely want to get some info on and prepare some questions. A little open-minded wandering is good, too, but planning ahead will stop you getting lost and signing up to study clowning in Manchester, Bolivia, rather than cloning in Manchester, New Hampshire (could happen).
Events on campus
An open day can be just as important when you're thinking of overseas study as it is for UK study. Of course, it presents a few more travel challenges, but all the benefits are the same: you can see the site and the facilities, get a feel for the place, talk to students about their experiences and meet the staff who will actually be teaching you.
Plus, travelling to an open day will help you get a handle on how near or far away from home you'll actually be, which can be good to know. Some European city unis are mere hours away, for instance, while heading off to Harvard will involve a little more time on the road.
Many European universities host their own open days for international students (the University of Groningen has two per year, for example, with the next one in April) and will help you plan your journey. Again, take advantage of the fact that you'll be meeting people face-to-face by writing out some questions in advance. Remember to take pics and notes when you're there to reflect on once you're at home, too – it's easy to forget things in the hustle and excitement of a fair or open day.
Invite universities to your school
Finally, don't forget to see what your school or college already offers. Many career advisors will organise their own events and host universities for the afternoon, who will present the opportunities available to study abroad to you. If there's nothing planned in, perhaps you could speak to your careers advisor to see what can be arranged?
The face-to-face experience really can make a difference – so if you're thinking about studying abroad, it's worth considering these options as you do your research. You can even ask them about the Marmite thing while you're at it.