The Guide: Getting Involved Abroad

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YOUR Guide to: make the most out of your study abroad experience by travelling, learning, and living

One of the great parts about living and studying abroad is that you are presented with the opportunity to make that city your new home away from home.  I know, I know, it sounds SUPER basic, but really immersing myself in Scotland’s culture and becoming extensively involved with my host university truly made my year abroad the experience of a lifetime.

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British National Champions with Edinburgh Uni Club Team

So, in the spirit of ensuring all current and/or future UCEAP students also have the same immersive experience of a lifetime in the UK or Ireland, I’ve compiled a list of some of my best tips for getting involved abroad:

  1. Unsure where to start??! Get involved at your host university!
    • Societies: The great part about uni’s in the UK and Ireland is that each is literally overflowing with societies, welcoming both semester and year students. A society is a group of like-minded people who have joined a group together to develop a particular interest and network.  Universities in the UK offer any and EVERY society under the sun!  From A Cappella, to Model UN, and even the Quidditch society, you WILL find a society that matches your interests.  If you don’t, you can start your own!
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      Winning playoff/league promotion match with club team.
    • Clubs: Another great way to get involved at your host university, especially if you are staying for a year, is to join a club. Clubs are often a group of students who have joined a sports team, such as football, dance, archery, etc.  Bringing your involvement in sports into an international setting not only allows you to expand your perspective on the sport itself, but also to learn new lessons in teamwork and leadership.  Check out your university’s clubs & societies website page for more info!

      Scottish Intern Samantha Ku at UN Conference in Geneva
    • Volunteer: Another great way to get involved, especially if you are interested in continuing in education after undergrad, is to volunteer in research labs or at other campus events/activities. Pro Tip: having volunteer experience at an international university is a huge plus on your resume.
    • Intern: Look into interning in a field in which you are interested. Again, not only does this look incredible to a future employer/on a graduate school application, but it also provides you with a profound purpose for your time abroad.  Interning in a different country can only expand your perspective in your field as well as relating to hard work and dedication.
  2. Get involved in your host city/community
    Edinburgh Chihuahua Café
    • Experience: Try something new every week (or every day,if your budget allows it!). Try that cute lil coffee shop you walk by every day to get to uni, or that pub down the road that constantly taunts you with the glorious smell of fish n’ chips.  If it’s not experiencing new food, then experience new sights and fave local spots around the city.  Basically, if you think you’ve done everything there is to do, I’m sure there’s about a thousand more things to do – cities in the UK and Ireland have SO much to offer.
    • Volunteer or intern: If you want to be involved abroad, but nothing at the university interests you, take to the community!  First, ensure your visa allows it, but volunteering and/or interning in your host city is an extremely fulfilling and enlightening way to spend your time abroad.
    • Free events: I was a uni student once, I know how it goes.. But you’re in luck! There are loads of free activities available in your host city.  For example, most museums and national galleries in the UK and Ireland are free, plus there are loads of free festivals, events, pop up markets, etc. scattered all over the place.  Look on Facebook or your host city’s travel sights for more info.
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      UCEAP students hike Arthur’s Seat (free!)
  3. Travel!!
    • In your host country: THIS IS IMPORTANT!! See as much as you can.  This is your home while you are abroad – experience it to the fullest while you can!  You don’t know if you’ll get this opportunity again.
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      Isle of Arran, Scotland
    • Europe is literally right there: Enough said.
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      Sunset over Dubrovnik, Croatia

One of the best decisions I made when I was abroad was joining a sports team and competing with them internationally.  Now, I am interning here and it is all because I was so engaged with my host university, host city, and host country.  I’m actually not exaggerating (for once, lol) when I say that getting involved WILL pay off, and it WILL enhance your time abroad.  So, get out there kiddos! :))