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Arrivederci! Why a summer study abroad is the perfect fix for students with commitment issues

Can’t see yourself packing up and moving to a foreign country for a whole year, why not embark on a summer abroad instead?


For some, a year abroad can be daunting. It’s a big commitment and can be too much to fathom when all you want to do is bag your degree and enter the big bad world of employment.

It may be the case that your course doesn’t offer the luxury of a full year away from Bristol, or that spaces are full up.

I am currently studying Interreligious and Intercultural Tensions within Germany at Humboldt-Universität in Berlin. Now that my summer abroad is winding to a close, my gift to you, readers, is a bank of all the tips, tricks and advice I picked up during my travels so I can tempt you to embark on the summer of your uni life.

1. Location

This is the fun bit: deciding where to go. I am incredibly indecisive, and there is no way I could ever settle on where I wanted to live for an entire year.

This is why a summer abroad is ideal, it makes location decision making a bit less important. We have included the list of Bristol partner universities here, and you are truly spoilt for choice.

For those who have always wanted to see the pyramids and pay their respects to Tutankhamun, why not head to the American University of Cairo, Egypt. Regret not picking geology as your degree? Watch a real-life volcano explode whilst studying at the University of Iceland.

I chose Berlin having visited the city a few times and knowing it was a bit of me. Cheap beer followed by the high standard of teaching provided at Humboldt-Universität enticed me back, and it has been so amazing exploring a city I had been to before in greater depth.

2. It’s short term

A huge advantage to a summer abroad is the length of your studies. Courses range from a couple of weeks to two months, allowing you to choose exactly how long you want to be travelling for.

I chose a summer abroad over a year abroad because I couldn’t picture myself moving away for a whole year then returning to Bristol to complete yet more education. This allowed me to fill the ridiculously long uni summer hols and still be able to enjoy time at home.

3. Costs

I chose a summer abroad over a year abroad because I couldn’t picture myself moving away for a whole year then returning to Bristol to complete yet more education. This allowed me to fill the ridiculously long uni summer hols and still be able to enjoy time at home.

3. Costs

Travelling to a new country for a shorter amount of time means you don’t have to fork out hundreds of pounds for a visa and long-term accommodation.

It’s still not cheap, but if you have behaved and squirrelled away your precious minimum wage paychecks you’ll be one step closer to jetting off into the sunset and munching on lays and sangria in the name of “learning”.

Helpfully, the uni offers a Global Opportunities Scholarship, which gives select students help with funding for their chosen summer abroad.

4. Variety of courses

A summer abroad lets you stretch beyond those dull TB1 modules and dip into a different course only loosely based on your degree.

This provides an opportunity to fine-tune your academic interests or try something completely new which is especially helpful for those entering their final year who return to uni with dissertation topics looming over their head.

5. Accommodation

It’s really tricky sorting out where you will be resting your big-boy brain each night. Major cities will be inundated with people with the same plans as you. Most cities will have flat-sharing websites, which is a good shout, but it’s very rare for people only staying a few weeks or months to secure an apartment.

Another great option is Airbnb which offers rooms in a shared flat for a generally affordable price. You could also ask around and see if your friends or friends of friends know anyone subletting their place.

If that fails, there are thousands of hostels to choose from. However, prepare to be sleeping with seven different strangers every night and watching them move on to greener pastures as part of their euro-summer they won’t shut up about.

6. Learn the language

Image credit @duolingodeutschland

Prepare to get acquainted with your old friend, the Duolingo owl. It may have been months or even years since you saw their friendly stare, but push past the shame and thousands of junk emails reminding you that you will never amount to anything and learn the essentials for getting around your chosen city. It will go a long way, and people will be considerably nicer to you.

7. Meet new people

If you are worried about moving away and not knowing anyone, fear not. The multitude of dating apps available can be used not only for a regrettable one-night stand but also as a means of meeting new people platonically.

Change your dating intentions to ‘looking for pals’ and get ready for waves of like-minded individuals to jump at the opportunity to get to know you. Be warned, some will misinterpret the desire for a friendly connection as ‘my mind can be changed; show me the local delicacy…’

8. Engage in the course

A very obvious statement but be sure to actually attend your classes and do the work required. If you have been awarded funding for your summer abroad they will ask for it back if you do not successfully complete the course and provide proof of your doing so.

It’s best to have the mindset of using this experience as a way to get back on the education horse after a few difficult years of uni strikes. Enjoy the feeling of being able to attend your classes and talk to your teacher without the weekly apology email from your tutor informing you that, unfortunately, there will be no seminar for the fourth week in a row.

9. Explore

A great part of a summer abroad is the ability to use it as a means to explore other places you have always dreamt of seeing. Teaching will not be that intense, and depending on the course and university, you will most definitely not be in class every day.

Use your weekends to hop on a train and explore a new city. If the budget is tight, then relax and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings. You will have so much time to get to know the ‘real’ side of your city, allowing you to feel at home and comfortable in your new stomping ground.

10. Have fun

One of the best things about a summer abroad is that it does not count towards your degree. You finally have the luxury of enjoying education without the looming threat of failure.

With this you will most likely be able to travel solo, an eye opening experience that will definitely boost your ego and give you something to talk about back home.

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