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How to pick a university you’ve never seen

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So you’re going abroad? Good for you! We need more people to actually attempt to leave the bubble that is the UK, and dispel the ridiculous perceptions people have of us. But deciding where to go can be tough.

Most universities have a range of offers, and my advice is to pick somewhere you haven’t been before, unless you have serious links there that’ll save you money. You’ve really only got ten more years in which you can travel and be legitimised by youth, so go for it.

Getting started

Of course, picking somewhere you’ve never been before can seem daunting. What about links? What is there to do? What about nightlife? I know, I’m asking the big questions. For some people, the quality of the university doesn’t actually matter that much – you’re usually there to learn the language, and credits gained there rarely count toward the overall degree.

My advice is: Google it. Find a list of the locations as soon as you can and just surf the internet – read blogs, Wikipedia pages, TripAdvisor – the list of places you can go is endless. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the students who are already abroad. They’ll often be franker, and you’ll get a more subjective view, which is ironically what you want here!

Just relax

And in all honesty, a lot of what seems worrying, really isn’t. I’m currently abroad, and I can’t say I’m surrounded by the glamour and glitz I’ve always assumed was my natural home. So make the best of it! True, you might never catch Beyonce drinking a €1 bottle of wine at the port, but that’s her loss. It’s awesome.

Consider the location

Travel is also never that hard, and let’s face it – you’ll be in a city, and what city doesn’t have an airport these days? I know, not the greenest method of travel, but in case of a major disaster back home or in foreign climes, help can reach you fairly quickly. If you’re not in the city, be prepared for that fact, and don’t be stupid and pick a rural placement if you love going out.

My final piece of advice comes in an anecdote. Until it came to officially picking where to go, I was dead set on one city. Then, upon realising I was one of seven vying for two spaces, I changed my favoured location on a whim. And I couldn’t be happier. I’m not advocating this as a sure-fire winner. All I’m saying is, you might end up somewhere you adore!

Good luck, it’ll be an incredible year. I promise you that!

Do you have any more advice for Erasmus students on how to pick a university you’ve never seen? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo: Elizabeth M / Flickr

Nicholas BuxeyHow to pick a university you’ve never seen

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