Study Abroad for Sussex Students

Practicalities and support

The Sussex Abroad office is here to give you support and information before, during and after your study placement. We find that the student who gain most from the experience are those who additionally carry out their own research well in advance. Below are the main points to consider when thinking to study abroad.

Visas

For the vast majority of destinations, you will be required to apply for a study visa. The Global Mobility team and the host university will provide you with information and help you navigate the visa application process, don't worry. Please contact us if you have queries about these. 

Insurance

Wherever you are going, you MUST make sure that you have insurance that will cover medical care, getting you home in an emergency. You can purchase this via Sussex and more information can be found here.

For destinations such as US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, you will required additional medical insurace, which you normally purchase with the partner university.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) - this does not constitute your insurance

**Please note that if the UK leaves the EU without an agreed deal in place, UK students would no longer be able to use the EHIC while abroad. Instead, they would need to make sure that they have health insurance in place .**

For students currently abroad:

European students studying abroad in Europe must apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC – formerly the E111) as well as take out fully comprehensive travel insurance. The EHIC provides the cardholder with the same level of care as a national of that country. Where citizens would normally pay for prescriptions, for example, you would pay the same. Students can apply for an EHIC online at https://www.ehic.org.uk (10-day delivery time) or by phone on 0845 606 2030 (10-day delivery time). Please note the EHIC is not valid in Turkey and students must ensure they have adequate health insurance in place.

Accommodation

Finding somewhere to live abroad and dealing with practical living arrangements is an important part of the study abroad experience. Ultimately it will be your responsibility to find suitable accommodation. We can offer you support by putting you in touch with other students and the other university, and offer you as many resources as we have available, but we are unable to find housing for you. 

University accommodation

The provision of accommodation at partner institutions varies. If the option exists, you should apply as soon as the host institution gives you the option. However, it should not be assumed that university accommodation is always the best option. Factors to consider include how far away from the campus the accommodation is and what cooking facilities are available amongst others. It is very important that you do your own research before choosing where to live.

Private accommodation

Regardless if the partner university offers accommodation or not, you might want to opt for renting in the private market. This can be a good way to meet new people, make friends and above all, learn the language.

Here are some suggestions when looking for private accommodation:

- start looking for suitable accommodation early. Waiting until the start of the academic year may mean there are fewer places available;

- don't rush into signing a tenancy agreement without carefully reading the contract, asking colleagues in the Exchange office of the host university for assistance if necessary;

- make sure you have met all of your feature flatmates before signing a contract;

- do not arrange property viewings on your own.

 
If you have an idea where you would like to go to study, we can always try to put you in contact with a past study abroad student. Often they are one of the best resources of information when it comes to housing. Also, there will be occasions where we have more than one student going to the same partner university. It can be much easier if house hunting is not done alone! You can also use our Facebook group pages, which have recently become a great source of advice from students to students! 
 

Support and Guidance 

The Global Mobility team is here to support you in preparation of your year abroad, during your studies abroad and once your study placement has terminated.

Before your study placement

Once you have been allocated to a partner university, providing your application is successful, there will be a dedicated staff member to deal with your enquiries and provide you support when needed.

The staff member will give you plenty of information in preparation of your year or semester abroad that will include academic and non-academic matters. Having said that, there'll be an element of you also researching fully to get ready before you go abroad! Before you go abroad, it is required for you to be very pro-active.

In addition, you will be invited to attend preparatory meetings throughout the Spring semester and we will offer you the chance to meet other students who will be going abroad as well as those who have returned from abroad (if possible at all).

Make sure that you take advantage of every opportunity to learn more, so that you are prepared for and confident about what can be something of a culture shock. If for any reason you are unable to attend these meetings or seminars, you should make sure that you receive all the necessary documentation to ensure a smooth trip.

For more information about preparing to study abroad, please visit our Planning your time abroad webpage.

During your study placement

When you are abroad, the host university will be your main point of contact, there are there to help you and look after you. Rest assured that the staff member at Sussex will also be here to support you in whatever capacity they can, so don't hesitate to contact at the earliest convenient. If you experience issues, it's important you let us know as soon as possible. 

While you are abroad, you can still access the Student Life Centre.

We often find that the first few weeks of your study placement are the more challenging ones, even if you are well-travelled. You may experience what's called Culture Shock. 

Living in a new culture can be an exhilarating, personally rewarding and intellectually stimulating experience. It can also have its frustrations. It is one thing to visit a country, moving on when you have seen or had enough, and it is quite another to live there and function according to a different set of norms.   

People usually experience a variety of emotions when adapting to a foreign culture, ranging from excitement and interest in the new culture to loneliness and fear of the unknown. The difficulties and emotional insecurities that you experience as you integrate into a new society can be a direct result of what is often termed "culture shock". Culture shock is inevitable in one form or another. Adjusting to and accepting a foreign culture, exploring and living through difficult times of change, can be a most rewarding and satisfying experience.  Most agree that this is worth the occasional pain, existential angst and effort.                                     

An underlying cause of negative reactions to another culture is the tendency to equate "what is different" with "what is inferior". It is important to be open toward the culture into which you are going, to discard stereotypes, and to read as much as you can about that culture before your departure. Sometimes you are unaware that the frustrations and emotions you are experiencing are effects of acculturation; in retrospect, this becomes apparent.  Of course the symptoms vary with each individual, and depend on the situation and length of time that you have been in that culture.

Although almost everyone will experience the mild signs of culture shock, you should be able to avoid its worst effects if you can understand the phenomenon and its possible causes. Your host university will organise orientation meetings and events, and you are strongly advised to attend these. The study abroad office may also have information about the complexities of living abroad and how to acclimatise and get used to the local culture.  Getting to know local students as soon as possible will also smooth your transition.  The study abroad office or international support office at the host university, may run a buddy scheme which you can get involved with, and will likely organise social events or trips for exchange students or run schemes where you can meet local students or families.

Towards the end of your study placement, we will ask you to complete a debriefing report.

After your study placement

The main task that the Global Mobility team works on after the study placement is the mark conversion. But we also want to hear from you and your experiences when you've returned. So we may organise debriefing meetings and, with the help of other units at Sussex, workshops to maximise what you have learnt from your year or semester abroad.  

Upon your return, you may experience what's called 'reverse culture shock'. Typical symptoms are initial euphoria (followed by disappointment and ‘flatness’) and criticism of the way things are done back home. You may feel restless, sadness, frustration, isolation, feeling like a stranger at home, and a longing to go back abroad.  This is common and feelings can differ from one person to another.  This process will be similar to the culture shock you may have experienced when you first went abroad, only in reverse. Just as it took time to adjust to a different culture when you arrived there, it may take some time to re-adjust to home. The main thing is to understand that this is what you are experiencing, and try and prepare yourself for it and find things do to help you cope with it if you can. The coping skills and strategies that were successful in helping you to adjust to your host culture will be just as useful coming home.

You may find it helpful to create a travel goal, either for work or holiday, keeping in contact with friends made abroad (but not at the expense of friends back at home!). The challenge of integrating your learning from abroad into your academic work back here can be a helpful focus. Look out for seminars run in October/November by Careers and Employability Centre (CEC) for returning students to learn about how to maximise their study abroad experience.  You may also wish to seek assistance from the Student Life Centre or Counselling service, as professional support with reflecting on your feelings and experiences will help you work out how you have grown and what this means for settling back into life here.

There are also some really positive ways you can reintegrate into University keeping your international experience alive by trying something new, including international societies and clubs on campus, keeping healthy, talking to friends and family about why you are feeling like this, sharing your experience of study abroad in fun ways, like taking part in international food evenings on campus.  The Student Union runs a Buddy Scheme, matching Sussex students with incoming international and study abroad students. This is a great way of using your experience of study abroad by making friends with an incoming exchange or international student, and helping them settle in at Sussex.  See: http://www.buddyscheme.com/about-and-faqs  and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeL6KYYkryc.

 

Other useful tips

Here are some other useful advice:

  • Attend all meetings and events. These offer you the great opportunity to meet other students that may be studying in the same country or even university!
  • Create your own checklist. Things to include: documentation and IDs (visa, passport), study resources, dictionary (if needed), suitable clothing, medication for any ongoing condition and necessary paperwork to accompany this, contact numbers, etc.
  • Research. We cannot stress enough that you should research as much as possible, using the host university's websites as well as external ones, such as Global Graduates
  • Take on a new language! Some of you might be studying in the target language whilst others will follow their modules in English. If this is the case, we will always recommend you studying some of the foreign language so it will be easier to communicate. The University of Sussex offers language courses over the year which can help you either brush up previous knowledge of the language or starting a new one. Amongst the different language courses available they offer French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin  Chinese, Polish, Spanish. For more information please visit: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/languages/ml/opencourses