Months before deciding to come and study at Western Sydney University I knew I wished to study abroad. It was one of my primary goals of being at university. The opportunity to study in a country and experience a new culture was too appealing to turn down. My first thoughts were to study in America, Canada or Australia. I used to live in Canada and have always dreamed of going back to live there at some point. However, delving a little deeper on the website, I realised the universities on offer didn’t offer modules in my field. This wasn’t a problem as I was still very keen on either America or Australia. Having looked at the options on Leeds Beckett’s study abroad page online. I found both options to be possibilities with previous students having been to these countries and having read about their times abroad I knew this was for me. There seemed to be plenty of information online to see whether I was eligible, how to apply and a number of universities to choose from.
I opted first to study in America and I was drawn to Northern Arizona University (NAU) initially with the appeal of being so close to the Grand Canyon and other National Parks drawing me in. Wherever I went I knew I wanted to be in the proximity of the great outdoors. After going through the process of selecting appropriate modules I submitted this to my course leader only to be dealt a setback in that it was compulsory for me to do a research methods module and the ones offered at NAU were not appropriate. Not being disheartened by this, I decided to broaden my search geographically and came across Western Sydney University (WSU). I knew one of my friends was applying here so it helped getting information from her. And whenever I had a query or issue with the application process the Study Abroad team were always more than helpful in answering and resolving these. WSU looked amazing, situated between downtown Sydney in the east and the Blue Mountains to the west. After completing the modules for WSU, my course leader approved my modules much to my delight! I then completed WSU’s application form for studying there. This wasn’t too rigorous and I had plenty time to do this which helped. At this point I was in my first semester of my second year so had a number of other commitments on at the same time so it was good having a while to complete each part of the process. I never felt stressed out or that it was affecting my studies in any way despite getting more and more excited by the week.
By November I had been accepted to study at WSU and was starting to think about getting flights out there, applying for a student visa, getting health insurance and accommodation. I had been communicating with a helpful staff member of the ‘GoGlobal’ team at WSU to set up a student account with them and apply for units of study. There were a couple of information sessions held at Beckett for all study abroad students no matter where they were going in the world. It was interesting seeing just how many people were off on their travels to explore an academic life beyond Leeds and the places people had chosen. I was grateful to be one of them yet secretly jealous of each and every fantastic experience people were going to be having. General information about health insurance, travel insurance and representing the university was useful as was the free study abroad t-shirt we received! An online seminar or “webinar” was delivered by the study abroad team at WSU offering information on things such as free airport pick up on arrival, orientation activities and visa requirements.
The visa process was slightly arduous with lots of information required but only took about an hour in total. Documents such as Confirmation of Enrolment, Health Insurance and Passport were required along with a list of all the countries I’d been to in the last 10 years. However, having submitted this, it only took a couple of days before I heard back with confirmation. Another step completed. I was frequently receiving emails at this point about all the exciting activities going on in orientation week at the accommodation and on campus. I couldn’t wait to get started. I had the small matter of semester one assignments and exams to keep me busy though so the obligatory last minute packing took place! On the 23rd January I was ready for my big Aussie adventure. Months of build-up had led to this and I couldn’t wait…