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Planning a semester abroad
Going abroad – an overview
This is an overview of the options you have to go abroad as a student. It is only intended for general information purposes and to encourage you to find out more, so it is by no means exhaustive!
In general: staying abroad requires a certain amount of preparation and hard work. However, most "returnees" would tell you that it was really worth the effort! It is therefore best to start planning a year and a half before you intend to go, as the application deadlines are often a year beforehand or even earlier.
Selection criteria for study country
You should base your choice of country for your semester abroad on the course you are currently studying. Your decision may vary depending on your current course and your ideas about a future career.
Environment and climate
Naturally a semester abroad is not just great for career purposes; you also want to explore the world and feel at home. Why not try South America, Asia, South Africa or Australia if you want somewhere warm, Scandinavia or Canada if you're happy being a bit colder and you love wide landscapes or even wild-water rafting. Every country has a different climate and landscape for you to explore and your experience abroad will be heightened as you find out more about the natural environment.
There may be significant differences in the cost of living or tuition fees in the country you choose. It is therefore important for you to find out about the costs for any relevant courses and living costs. From an Austrian point of view, for example, studying in Europe is beneficial as there are Europe-wide tuition fee regulations. The favourable exchange rate with the Australian and New Zealand dollar makes it possible for you to live cheaply in these countries, which makes the study and travel programme very attractive. You will not be paid for placements in every country (e.g. USA, Canada), so this is also worth bearing in mind when you choose your destination. Another good indicator for living costs is the price of a McDonalds Big Mac.
(EU support programme for studying at European universities)
You can apply to any partner university offering courses that are equivalent to your selected study programme at Montanuniversität.
Direct exchange with partner universities
A direct exchange is run by Montanuniversität Leoben for students in all disciplines. The partner countries are the USA/Canada, Australia, Asia and Latin America. You can submit your applications to the International Relations Office, where you can also find out more information and look at experience reports. You are exempt from tuition fees at a partner university if participating in the direct exchange. You can also apply for exemption from tuition fees in Leoben for this mobility semester (application for exemption from tuition fees).
OeAD (Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research) programme
The OeAD offers a range of different programmes; you can find an overview on International study & research. You can also look at www.grants.at and select subjects and chosen destinations to view the available programmes.
Fulbright scholarship (USA)
The Fulbright Commission awards scholarships to students who want to continue or supplement their studies in the USA and also lets you apply to an American university. The prerequisites are good/outstanding performance, good English language skills and at least five semesters already studied at the time that the scholarship starts. There are very few places available for this programme.
Organising the trip yourself
Last but not least, you can of course organise everything yourself. The International Relations Office is there to advise you.
To-do list for studying abroad
You should start organising everything in good time (at least one year beforehand) if you intend to study abroad or organise your semester abroad yourself.
There is a long list of things to do, but don't let this put you off. Speaking from experience, we can say that a semester abroad totally changes your outlook in many ways and is a fantastic life experience that you shouldn't miss out on.
Choose a university
1 st step: Internet research
Quick guides for selected countries:
Australia and New Zealand: www.ranke-heinemann.de
2 nd step: Think about personal preferences
Which country/which university appeals to me most and fits in best with my curriculum? (this is important for ÖAD scholarships and others, as you need to give practical reasons for your chosen destination)
You will need to find out the following information:
Will the lectures I attend abroad be credited in Leoben (ask your course coordinator!)?
What are the admissions requirements and deadlines?
What language requirements are set?
Where can I take my language proficiency test?
When do I need to register?
How long will it take for the language proficiency certificate to be issued?
Please think early on about arranging language lessons to learn the required language or refresh your skills. Bear in mind that many language proficiency tests depend significantly on the institutions in which you take the test, so you will need to gather specific preparatory material.
Important questions: Where can I take my language proficiency test? When do I need to register? How long will it take for the language proficiency certificate to be issued?
Students who want to spend the winter semester (or summer semester) in an English-speaking country and need to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) need to receive their test results before the submission deadline for the semester abroad. Applications without test certificates will be rejected. We strongly advise you to take the preparatory course at the Centre for Languages, Education and Culture for the Internet-based TOEFL.
Students who want to spend the winter semester (or summer semester) in a Spanish-speaking country and therefore need to take the D.E.L.E. test need to do this in November (or May) of the previous year, as applications will only be accepted with test certificates.
Financing options include those offered by the OeAD.
Please bear in mind the application requirements for this scholarship and other funding.
Start doing everything possible in terms of gathering all relevant documents for the application process now, e.g. (list not exhaustive!):
- Intensify contact with professors so that you can ask them for an expert report or recommendation.
- Agree on dates for any language courses and proficiency tests.
- Obtain copies of the application requirements and read them carefully!!
Note the application closing date!!!!
If all has gone well and you've got your financing and university place organised, you can take a deep breath and enjoy the fact that you've overcome the biggest hurdles. However, there are still a few things to sort out. Here are some of them (again, this list is not exhaustive!):
- Overseas health insurance, although you should always check what your current health insurance covers in terms of illness abroad. In most cases, you will need private overseas health insurance or else take out compulsory insurance at your university abroad.
- You will need a student visa if travelling outside the EU (see the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website
http://www.bmaa.gv.at) for the addresses of the various countries' diplomatic representatives).
- Think about any possible vaccinations required.
- Remember any application deadlines for a place in a hall of residence!
- Check: Do I need to keep paying for my room/flat in Leoben, find another tenant, sub-let the flat or terminate the lease (need to get post redirected?), let the residents' registration office know etc.?
- ATTENTION: You will still need to pay your students' union membership fees while you are abroad, otherwise you will no longer be enrolled.