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Thread: I'm studying abroad! But where to go?

  1. #1
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    I'm studying abroad! But where to go?

    After working full time and going to school in the evening for two years, I was finally able to quit my job and go to school full time at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro this past August. (Needless to say, I haven't done a lot of cooking the past couple of years!) My major is Business Administration with a minor in Spanish. I just finished my first semester and am in the midst of filling out my study abroad application for the fall 2012 semester (so exciting!).

    My first choice school is Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland. I want to attend that school because it is highly ranked and looks like a great school. I want to live in Glasgow because I am craving city life after living in rural areas for 5 years now. I have also heard that it is very easy to travel from Glasgow and that is a really important factor for me because I want to be able to see all that I can while I am abroad. A friend of mine studied there for a summer for her master's program and she loved it.

    I am having trouble deciding on my two alternate schools. No matter how much I research online, I can't get a good idea of what the cities I am considering are like. I will say that I am planning to do a study abroad in Spain in fall 2013 so I can practice my Spanish, so I would like to go to an English speaking country this time around.

    If any of you can tell me about any experience you have with any of the following cities, I would appreciate it. My main concerns are: safety, lots to do (arts and culture, restaurants, sightseeing, etc.), ease of travel (proximity to international airport), friendly folks, and just a good atmosphere for a 32 year old student.

    Aarhus, Denmark
    - (I was strongly considering this city, but was worried about the high cost of living and it's distance from the international airport.)
    Belfast, Northern Ireland
    Plymouth, UK
    Manchester, UK

    Lyon, France (classes are taught in English. I have always wanted to visit France, but just am not sure if it makes sense for me to study there given my minor.)
    Staffordshire, UK
    Hull, UK


    There are many, many other options that I could choose from, but I think this small list is overwhelming enough!


    Thanks!

  2. #2
    FWIW, my friend did her junior year in Spain - Barcelona I think and loved it. She was a Comparative Lit major with a minor in Spanish.

    Another friend did Glasgow - not sure which university.

  3. #3
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    Not on your list, but my DD studied abroad in Sydney, Australia and loved it. I wasn't sure if Australia was an option, but it does fall under the English speaking category.

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    Laura, Australia is an option, but I've already been there. I really liked the cities I traveled to there, but I want to go somewhere new to me. It would be ideal weather-wise, but I am only considering Europe.

  5. #5
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    I would pick a place you can use your Spanish. There is absolutely zero substitute for really learning a language except by immersing yourself.
    I would also consider if you ever plan on living overseas, which of the countries/cities you list that interest you.
    This is a chance of a lifetime. Enjoy it!!
    School rankings are important, but I have often felt that we make of our education what we want and going to a TOP school is not always the most important factor--IMHO.
    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

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    Quote Originally Posted by wallycat View Post
    I would pick a place you can use your Spanish. There is absolutely zero substitute for really learning a language except by immersing yourself.
    I would also consider if you ever plan on living overseas, which of the countries/cities you list that interest you.
    This is a chance of a lifetime. Enjoy it!!
    School rankings are important, but I have often felt that we make of our education what we want and going to a TOP school is not always the most important factor--IMHO.
    This. I honestly think it would be crazy to be minoring in Spanish and not do your study abroad in a Spanish speaking country. Consider Spain, Chile (I lived there in high school), Argentina etc.


    "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself" ~ George Bernard Shaw


  7. #7
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    I haven't been to any of those cities but will ping by friend and sometime CLBBer JohnnyC, who is English - he may be able to advise (and he lives in Manchester).
    I would think that as a business major it would be beneficial to be studying in a country where you wouldn't have to struggle with the language. And Scotland seems to produce a LOT of brilliant economists - hope you get your #1 choice!
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robyn1007 View Post
    This. I honestly think it would be crazy to be minoring in Spanish and not do your study abroad in a Spanish speaking country. Consider Spain, Chile (I lived there in high school), Argentina etc.
    I stated in my original post that I will be studying in Spain in the fall of 2013. I can't study there this fall because all of the classes are taught in Spanish and I will not yet have met the language requirement.

    The purpose of my first study abroad will be to concentrate on my major, the second to concentrate on my minor.

  9. #9
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    How exciting for you!

    I don't know enough about the places in the UK to make a solid recommendation but did love Scotland. I hope, like Canice, that you get your first choice

    Even if your classes would be in English in Lyon if you are at all interested in the UK locations I'd stick with one of those for this go-round, and get the "non-English speaking country experience" the following year. But that's just me.

    I am curious about where in Spain you plan to go in 2013, if you already know and don't mind sharing...
    "If you're not chasing after miracles, what's the point?" The movie Saint Ralph

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jessnc View Post
    I stated in my original post that I will be studying in Spain in the fall of 2013. I can't study there this fall because all of the classes are taught in Spanish and I will not yet have met the language requirement.

    The purpose of my first study abroad will be to concentrate on my major, the second to concentrate on my minor.
    D'oh! Sorry! Doing too many things at once. Although you might look into programs in South America. A friend of mine went to Chile during her MBA program for study abroad.


    "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself" ~ George Bernard Shaw


  11. #11
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    Can't really help with your choice.
    Just wanted to wish you good luck. What a wonderful experience.

    My DD is leaving in 2 weeks for a semester in India.

    There are so many exciting programs out there.

  12. #12
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    No help here, I just wanted to say, "Congratulations!" Enjoy your time abroad!
    Kay
    I'm a WYSIWYG person -- no subterfuge here!

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    A gal I'm friendly with on another board has a daughter who studied in Ireland (don't remember if it was Dublin or Belfast -- she talks frequently about both those cities) and her daughter loved it so much that she moved there after graduation and is working there now (probably also helped that she has a boyfriend there, too. ) My friend is currently in Belfast visiting her daughter over the holidays but if you would like to PM me your email addy I can forward it to her and ask if her daughter would mind giving you some info about school and just life in general there.
    ~ ~ Leslie ~ ~

  14. #14
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    Robyn - No problem, I figured you may have just skimmed through and missed that part. I thought about South America, but I thought that I would feel safer going to a European country. It would be nice to go somewhere with an entirely different culture, but I just wasn't ready to commit to a location there. But who knows, maybe after this first adventure I will want to go South America.

    Canice - It would be wonderful if you could get any info from your friend. I can PM you my email address in case he is able to get back to you.

    Natasha - I haven't chosen a city in Spain yet, but my options are: Caceres, Cuenca, Granada, Salamanca, Toledo, and another town that I can't remember because my school just recently set up a program there and a girl that I know just "paved the way" for other UNCG students there. She absolutely loved her experience.

    Merley - India, wow! I'm sure she's going to have an exciting experience, with a little bit of culture shock to adapt to as well. I wish I was bold enough to go somewhere like that.

    Syzygy - That would be great! I'll PM you my email address.

    Everyone else - Thanks! I can't believe that a few years ago I was having trouble deciding what to go back to school for and here I am now having trouble deciding where to study abroad! Dreams do come true.
    Last edited by Jessnc; 12-31-2011 at 08:46 PM. Reason: grammar

  15. #15
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    Can't help you with the other places but I have had many family members graduate from Strathclyde. (All of my family lives in Strathclyde area.) Good choice on the travel ease as you can get to many places from Glasgow airport or Prestwick the other airport. My daughter did her overseas study at the University of Aberdeen and would head to the continent just for the weekend. She would have to take the Mega Bus to Glasgow or Edinburgh to start her journey. For them it just added to the adventure. Ah, to be that age again! On her birthday that year they went to the Canary Islands for three days. It's so cheap to travel there and she booked a lot of travel on Ryan Air...very low budget airline. If you have any questions about Scotland feel free to PM me. I think you'll find the Scottish very friendly...if that's where you decide to go. All the best!

  16. #16
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    Thanks for the info MaryMac! If I don't get placed at Strathclyde I will be terribly disappointed. I've heard about Ryan Air. It sounds like your daughter had a great experience. If I get placed there, I will be in touch!

  17. #17
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    Hi Jess
    I'm Canice's friend. I can't comment on the acedemics, you've no doubt done a load of research. But I can give a European perspective on the living side.

    Aarhus, Denmark - (I was strongly considering this city, but was worried about the high cost of living and it's distance from the international airport.)
    Well, Denmark has one of the highest 'living satisfaction' ratings in Europe, i.e. people like living there. However, one of the reasons is that they are relatively unsullied with City living and have lots of great coast to escape to. I'm guessing you want to see life a bit more. Also, I think (you'd need to check) there may be cross-border movement issues; in Holland, France, Belgium etc anyone can move freely across borders. I don't know if you can in Denmark, and if you did move there one of the things you'd want to do is go to Holland etc.

    Belfast, Northern Ireland
    Belfast is a good city - but it is very small. Even now you have to watch where you go, there are places I wouldn't go. It is a deprived city with high unemployment and lots of drug problems. On the upside you can fly to mainland UK easily and get to Dublin easily. If I had a choice I'd choose Dublin over Belfast any day of the week. You can cover all the culture Belfast has to offer in a weekend. I went once and was quite glad to leave.

    Plymouth, UK
    Best avoided. Nice enough to visit for a weekend but not near anywhere and not much happens there. Lots of poverty and drug problems.

    Lyon, France (classes are taught in English. I have always wanted to visit France, but just am not sure if it makes sense for me to study there given my minor.)
    Good place to go in France if you like food, it's the gastro-capital but only if you like that sort of cuisine. It's easy to get from there to Paris, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Holland. So if you did want to see Europe this would be a good choice I'd say.

    Staffordshire, UK
    I'm guessing Keele university? Good university but miles from anywhere. Staffordshire is a pretty county but quite deprived, Stoke (the main city) is reknowned for heroin use as there's no money and nothing to do. Plus it's the dampest (rainiest) county in England. I wouldn't go there except to visit someone for the day. Culture - well if anyone ever spots any there I'll let you know.

    Hull, UK
    Apologies to anyone from Hull, but if you weren't born there there is no reason for people to ever visit Hull. The best thing about Hull is the road out. Notice how the only difference between Hull and Hell is the vowel. Honestly, I would only go to Hull even to drive in and straight back out if you paid me $2,000. Lots of povery, high levels of drug problems.

    Manchester, UK
    As Canice said, I'm from here, so you might expect a certain amount of prejudice. Not so. I lived there for 18 years, then moved to London for another 18, and now live 40 miles from Manchester. But I lived in the Manchester of the 1970s - unemployment, nothing to do. Since then it has totally transformed itself; even I don't recognise a lot of it.

    I don't live there, nor would I choose to. But that's because these days I'd rather live up a mountain by a waterfall with a small pub 5 mins away. I got my 'big city fix' living the high-life in London back in the 90's when I worked in banking.

    If you're coming to the UK, London is far and away the best place to study - but it's expensive, maybe too expensive.

    Assuming London isn't an option, Manchester is the next best place to study. There are good and great universities, there is excellent nightlife, there's a lot of students from lots of different places having a great time. Like any big city it has places you wouldn't go unless you had to, but as long as you find them out beforehand, you should have a great time. It's also a great place to travel from, you can visit Scotland, Wales, Ireland, London all within 2 hours. Also, unlike London, people are very friendly. Liverpool is just an hour away (30mins by car), there is good shopping and between Manchester and Liverpool lots of culture.

    If you want, PM me and I'll give you my email, I'll asnwer any questions you have more fully.


    One option you haven't mentioned, and I'm sure Canice would back me up on this - have you considered Italy? Siena has a famous international university and in a beautiful part of the world. And Rome ... Rome is a glorious city. If you get the chance to study something there, don't discount it. Speaking Spanish isn't that different from Italian, you'd soon pick it up.

    Make sure you visit Rome in your time in Europe; Europe will only makes sense after you visited Rome. I can't explain what that means, it's just something you realise when you've been there. It's a bit like Africa; Africa has the most peculiar familiarity when you go, and you realise eventually that deep down we all have some programmed memories and instincts that only make sense when you go back to Africa.
    Has anyone seen reality? I'm sure it was there a minute ago

  18. #18
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    DD loved her semester in Wellington, New Zealand. I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time whereever you go; what a great opportunity!

  19. #19
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    Johnny C - Wow! Thank you so much for that information! What a great help. My advisor told me that, unfortunately, Manchester is no longer an option for Business students, so that's a bit of a bummer and we are not partnered with any schools in London at this time.

    You stated a few things that I suspected from reading other people's experiences online (poverty and drugs in certain areas).

    You guessed right - Keele University. From what you've said and what I've researched, I've ruled out Staffordshire and Hull. I was on the fence about Belfast and Plymouth as a third option - now I'll probably eliminate both.

    Lyon won't work out, unfortunately. I'd have to participate in a program requiring me to take 4 classes and an intensive French course and, though it sounds wonderful and I'd love to do it, it doesn't make sense for me at this time. I'll have to just visit France! If I went to Strathclyde, I'd only have to take 3 classes and I'd still get credit for 5 classes.

    I'm so glad you mentioned Italy. There are a few options there (don't remember the cities off-hand) and I might just make one of those my third option.

    I'm going to go with Glasgow as my first option, Aarhus my second (though, as I've stated a few times already, I'm REALLY hoping for Glasgow), and perhaps somewhere in Italy as a third.

    Barbara
    - I'm glad to hear your DD had a good experience in NZ! I was able to visit there a while back and it is such a beautiful country!

  20. #20
    I can't help you but my sister-in-law is going to study abroad in Scotland this semester. She leaves at the end of January! I'm jealous of any of these trips!

  21. #21
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    I know it's not on your list at all, but do you have any options for the Netherlands? Almost everyone speaks English, so I never have any problems. I live just outside of Amsterdam as a single 32 year old woman and would not hesitate to live in Amsterdam itself, though I love my cute little village. It's very safe and I love the bike culture. The other Dutch university towns are equally charming and it's so easy to travel from here.

    All that said, I really like Glasgow as well. It's a town that has really been changing itself and it on the NYT list of 45 places to visit in 2012.

    My very biased opinion,

    Emily

  22. #22
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    Just wanted to wish you luck and tell you that my experience (studying abroad in Coimbra, Portugal) was one of the best in my life. It was transformational, educational, challenging and AMAZINGLY FUN. I wish I had taken advantage of even more study abroad activities, and I wish I had gone for an entire year instead of 6 months.

    Good luck!!
    - Josie


  23. #23
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    Thank you to everyone for your input!

    I had my study abroad interview yesterday and the director said that it is very likely that I will get to go to Strathclyde in Glasgow! I am so thrilled! I'll know for sure by March 15. The more I look at their average weather temps, the more nervous I get (I'm a warm weather kinda gal) but I think I am just going to be so excited to be somewhere new that it just may hardly phase me.

    I can't wait to know for sure so I can start reading up on the area and planning out what I want to see and do. Plus, I'd only have to take 3 classes at that school to be considered full-time, (I take 5 now and I hardly have a minute of free time, and the 3 will transfer as 5) so hopefully that will give me some freedom to travel. Yippie!

  24. #24
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    How exciting! Oddly, I lost this thread after emailing JohnnyC, so I had no idea that he'd responded ("The best thing about Hull is the road out." - classic Johnny )
    Good luck, it's a very exciting. And while Scotland probably isn't the best fit for a warm weather person, look at this way: I'm a cold, gray, damp weather person and survived six sunny months in Italy .
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

  25. #25
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    How exciting for you! You will love Bonnie Scotland with the exception of the cooler temps and rain. Don't worry the people there don't like it either so you'll find lots of bargains for long weekends to sunny places out of Glasgow airport. My family are always flying to warm climates.
    One place to visit that you may not have thought about, while not warm, is Iceland. My kids have gone there twice out of Glasgow and loved it.

    You're going to find the Scots very happy and nice people.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaryMac View Post

    You're going to find the Scots very happy and nice people.
    Maybe she'll meet her Jamie there! (A reference to Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series!)
    Kay
    I'm a WYSIWYG person -- no subterfuge here!

  27. #27
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    Thank you, Canice! I really appreciated Johnny's blunt, no holding back descriptions! That's exactly what I was looking for. I do plan on escaping to sunny, warm Italy at least once while I'm over there.

    Quote Originally Posted by MaryMac View Post
    How exciting for you! You will love Bonnie Scotland with the exception of the cooler temps and rain. Don't worry the people there don't like it either so you'll find lots of bargains for long weekends to sunny places out of Glasgow airport. My family are always flying to warm climates.
    One place to visit that you may not have thought about, while not warm, is Iceland. My kids have gone there twice out of Glasgow and loved it.

    You're going to find the Scots very happy and nice people.

    Thanks, Mary! I've already looked at Ryan Air flights and I can't believe how inexpensive it is to fly. I actually hadn't considered Iceland, so I'm glad that you mentioned it. I may be PMing you in the near future to find out some more info on the area.

    LakeMartinGal - If "Jaime" is the man of my dreams, I'd be doubly lucky! I'll have to look into the Outlander series, I'm always looking for new books to listen to in the car. My commute to school is about 50 minutes each way but hopefully in August my commute will be a short walk from suite to school!

  28. #28
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    Jessnc - please check baggage fees before you buy tickets on European airlines. Some have really cheap seats but checking a single bag can cost as much as the price of a regular ticket on a non-cut-rate airline. I've heard 1 piece luggage costs of up to 250 Euros. I haven't flown within Europe myself but maybe someone else on this board knows more specifics.
    Anne

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anne View Post
    Jessnc - please check baggage fees before you buy tickets on European airlines. Some have really cheap seats but checking a single bag can cost as much as the price of a regular ticket on a non-cut-rate airline. I've heard 1 piece luggage costs of up to 250 Euros. I haven't flown within Europe myself but maybe someone else on this board knows more specifics.
    Thank you for this advice Anne! I will definitely keep that in mind when I'm purchasing tickets. We will have a financial workshop in April through the school, so hopefully they will have some advice for us about this and other fees that we should try to avoid (I've heard horror stories of incredible bank fees from ATM withdrawals.)

  30. #30
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    About Ryan Air. . .

    It's a good value, but it's not nearly as inexpensive as it appears. The base price includes zero luggage or amenities of any kind. We flew from Germany to Poland on Ryan Air, and it was a good value, but it was nowhere near as inexpensive as the rates advertised on their website. There are lots of hidden fees that can cost more than the "price" of the ticket itself.
    I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day. ~E.B. White

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