Going Across the Pond: Preparing to Study Abroad

While many students participate in study abroad - whether that is for a summer, semester, or a year - they typically do so before or during their junior year. However, I’ve decided to do something not many do: leave Yale for half of my senior year to study at a different university.

During my first year at community college I was set to study abroad in Paris through a program funded by my college. Unfortunately however, the pandemic struck and those plans never came to be. And so, while I was excited to explore New Haven and the East Coast when I came to Yale, that desire to study abroad never left. Throughout my first semester here, I put those study abroad dreams aside, focusing instead on making friends and adjusting to a new campus life. Then, a couple of weeks before heading home for winter break, I decided to look into study abroad programs. After spending hours scrolling through programs on Yale’s study abroad website, I set my sights on the University of Oxford.

Given my transfer student status, I was initially unsure if a study abroad program was feasible for me. However, after a few back-and-forth emails between my study abroad advisor and the dean in charge of the transfer program, I was given the option to study abroad my second to last semester at Yale (Spring ’23). To study abroad at Oxford, a student is required to apply independently to the university. And so, after receiving the green light, I submitted my application in late December to Oxford and waited for a response.

Was not prepared to get my acceptance through an email, so I was very very surprised.

On February 25, 2022, I received an email informing me that I was accepted to study politics at the University of Oxford - St. Anne’s. After my shock wore off came the time to start prepping to study abroad (and trust me, there is lots of prepping to do). In my case, there were lots of unknowns: What was financial aid going to look like? How many credits would transfer? Would I receive political science credit? What would Yale housing and Oxford housing look like? What would I need to do before leaving for the UK?

Financial Aid: Figuring out financial aid for study abroad has - as of yet - been the trickiest part of this entire process. There are a lot of forms that need to be filled out and lots of emails to be exchanged between the Yale Financial Aid Office and your study abroad institution. As a recipient of financial aid, I needed to ensure that my scholarship would transfer over and thankfully, as my program’s cost is a bit less than Yale’s cost of attendance, it will fully be applied. Tip #1: For a smoother financial aid process, ensure that your program’s cost is equal to or less than Yale’s cost of attendance.

My amazingly wonderful friends threw me a surprise congratulations/going away party a few days before I headed home for winter break

Credits: When I was approved to study abroad, I was informed by the Yale Study Abroad Office that I would receive 5 credits upon completion of the program. I then needed to figure out whether it was feasible for me to leave Yale for an entire semester. Thankfully, before being accepted by Oxford, I created my course schedules for the upcoming semesters around the possibility of leaving Yale for the Spring term. Yale requires students to complete at minimum 18 course credits by attendance at Yale. By the end of the 21-22 academic year I had completed 8 credits, meaning that I needed to complete 10 more at Yale. Since I had three semesters left before graduating (2 as of this blog’s publication date), I would need to take 5 credits during Fall 2022 and 5 credits my last semester, Fall 2023, in order for one of those semesters to be my study abroad term. A term abroad would work out perfectly. Tip #2: Plan AHEAD for credits, talk with your college Dean and seek the advice of your DUS. 

Housing and Flights: Since I’m considered a visiting student at Oxford, the college will be providing me with university housing throughout the duration of my program (and in between the breaks students receive). However, speaking with other friends who are studying abroad, that is not always the case. If your study abroad program does not provide housing, you’ll be tasked with finding your own accommodations. And so, just like you want to plan ahead for credit, you want to plan ahead for housing. One of the first things I ensured when looking at study abroad programs was that housing was included because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of finding a place to live in another country. When it came to flights, I booked them as soon as I sent over my deposit to secure my spot in the program. Even though I paid a bit extra, I made sure those flights were refundable in the instance anything changed. Tip #3: Find and secure housing and flights (preferably refundable) as soon as possible.

Truly, the friends I’ve made here at Yale are lifelong friends. I can’t wait to see them when I come back from Oxford.

Things to Do: I’m heading off across the pond in a little more than a week and the nerves are definitely settling in. While the major things (financial aid, credits, housing and flights) are sorted out, I still have quite a large checklist to get through. I now need to figure out international phone plans and banking as well as fit my entire life in 2 suitcases and a carry on. From last-minute packing, to cherishing these last few days in sunny Southern California, to saying goodbye to my friends and family, I know I’m going to blink and the next thing I know I’ll be on a plane to London. While I can’t wait to live my life in a new country and learn in a new university, I’m so looking forward to the day I’m back in New Haven, drinking chais with my friends at Koffee. Tip #4: Create a countdown to the day you’ll return home. 

Saying goodbye to Entryway H of Pauli Murray College, where so many wonderful memories were made the past year. See you in 8 months, Yale!