It’s 2011. I’m 18 years old, straight out of high school and into uni. It’s a couple of weeks in and I’m sitting in the uni’s International Office at lunchtime to find out more about how I can study overseas. Three minutes in and it’s becoming overwhelming very, VERY quickly. The cost, the lengthy application process, the organisation of everything (from finding my own accomodation to picking my own classes that match exactly with the subjects in my current degree) forced me to realise that I definitely wasn’t ready for my overseas study adventure just yet…
3 years later, I’m in my second last semester of my communications degree and I discover that overseas short-term study experiences are possible, and it really sounded too good to be true! Spending three weeks in America studying social media and marketing from expert professors in their field, visiting and networking with companies, whilst being immersed in American college life sounded like an absolute dream to me! Thanks to AIM Overseas, it was all possible!
So, if you’re tossing up between an exchange or a short term overseas study experience, here is what I’ve learnt about why you should consider a short-term experience:
It’s financially a great choice if you can’t afford exchange
Yes, you might not have to pay the tuition fees for your exchange, but your housing, flights, everyday meals, travel over 6 months, travel insurance, health insurance will leave your bank account feeling a little sad. With most short term exchanges, it usually comes as a nice little package which includes your tuition, housing, meals, site visits, weekend trips all in the one price. This makes it easier to manage especially with the help of the Australian Government’s OS-HELP Loan, where you can get over $6,700 in funding towards your experience! And not to mention that spending 3 weeks overseas is a more viable option financially than 6 months.
You can work it around your current commitments.
You won’t have to quit your job for being away for 6-12 months. You won’t have to defer your degree to fit it in to your university study plan. You won’t have to break up with your boyfriend because of the whole long-term distance thing. In my experience, being away for only 3 weeks was a thousand times easier to organise. I didn’t have to think about who was going to pay my phone bill for 6 months or revert all of my mail to a temporary address.
You can still absorb a whole damn lot in 3-4 weeks
I was surprised how much I actually learnt while on my overseas short term experience. As they are short-term, most programs are made to count toward one semester of contact hours, which means the programs are quite intensive in nature, with classes Monday to Friday from 9am-2pm for three weeks. In the classes, we learnt about the topics and had discussions in the first few hours, but then we were able to put what we just learnt into practice with workshop style classes like creating our own brand and creating Facebook Ads! I came away from the program and felt I knew SO MUCH more about the digital marketing world than I ever had before.
It still looks AMAZING on your resume.
Yes, it’s three weeks. BUT think about the skills you’ll still be able to gain. In my short time abroad, I learnt how to solve problems by myself (by finding out how to print my travel document in the JFK airport when the transfer company wouldn’t let me get my transfer without it), how to be flexible and adapt to situations (after our bus stranded us in Canada after breaking down), how to be truly independent (after living by myself for the first time ever), how to open up, make meaningful relationships and to network (meeting lots of new people on the first day, including students, program coordinators, teachers, etc). All of these soft skills still super attractive on your resume for when you apply for your next job, and now you can use these practical examples to prove you have these skills!
It’s a great way to get outside of your comfort zone… but not too far out.
In my opinion, studying overseas is the #1 way to get outside of your comfort zone whilst you’re at university. However, if you’re like me and you want to experience something different, but you’re not exactly 100% confident about travelling across the world, then a short-term experience program is for you! Usually, these programs have around 10-30 other Australian students also attending the programs. This gave me so much relief, knowing that I won’t be the only one in the same situation and that I only needed to reach out to AIM Overseas for support if I needed. I came back feeling SO much more confident in myself, my ability and my future career.
I still talk about my experience 3 years later, and to be honest, I probably will for the rest of my life! I will always highly recommend to every uni student that an short-term overseas study experience is the best thing you can do for yourself during your time at university. There’s lots of options available out there! Take a look at some programs that are available to you here.