Meet Our Peer Advisors

This page provides additional advice and guidance ahead of your year or semester abroad. Don't hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any further questions!

 

Visas and insurance 

The costs of visas vary so make sure you research the amount for the country you will be travelling to. 

Cost of living 

Cost of living covers many factors including: accommodation, transportation, food and educational equipment/books. This varies from country to country and within different regions, states or cities. Some universities provide this information on their websites but not all do. It is important you research the cost of living for the country and/or city which you will be living in while abroad. 

If you choose a country or city which has a high cost of living, there are some easy ways to make sure that you are looking after your money. For example, check for walking or local bus routes rather than using taxis, or find out the distance to the cheapest supermarkets, such as Aldi or Lidl in Europe. 

Budgeting 

Budgeting is a great way to keep on top of your money while abroad. By using a budgeting spreadsheet, you can calculate your budget to get a clearer view of your overall costs and allow you to consider for any unplanned costs. This aims to limit the chances of you encountering any financial difficulties while abroad.  

Important things to follow: 
  • Keep cards/cash in a secure bag or pocket on your person at all times. 

  • Do not carry large amounts of cash or other valuables. 

  • Only use cash machines in daylight. 

  • Be aware of scams. 

When you are researching partner universities, it is important to make sure you know of the support services available to you. For example, do they run Exam+ activities? Would you be eligible for extra time during exams or a laptop to help with your studies? 

Be aware of different terminology while abroad.

For example:

  • subjects go by different names in different countries (e.g law and political science)
  • 'modules' are sometimes called 'classes', 'courses', or 'topics'

Semester Exchange Students

It is very important to remember that you need to keep a copy of all your work and submit this to Keele when you return. Keep a clear folder and make sure to file these away and keep them safe. At the beginning of your exchange, you may need to inform your lecturers and/or tutors of this otherwise you may find yourself struggling later on. 
Culture shock and homesickness 

While abroad you may experience cultural shock and homesickness. Here are a few things you can do to help overcome this: 

  • Exercise – explore the local area with new friends, join the university gym or sports clubs) 
  • Call home – share your adventure with them! You are not alone! Tell them about your experiences, share photos or send postcards. 
  • Cooking - Enjoy new cuisines and share food from home. This is a great way to mix with flatmates or bond with new friends 
  • Retail therapy or movie nights with others 
  • Join university clubs and societies just like you would at Keele. 

Before you go, it will be useful for you to research the customs and traditions of your host country. For example, eating etiquette, dress codes and behaviours. Be culturally aware and be open to learn from others. 

Take a look at the Intercultural Communications Module available via Keele Language Centre.

Important things to consider: 
  • What is the legal age to drink? For example, in the USA it is 21 years old; in Japan it is 20 years old

  • Could you experience extreme weather? How would you find out how to react? 

  • Local politics. Are there any general elections? Current topics of issue? 

  • What are the gun laws? 

Vaccinations 

Vaccinations may be required for travel to some areas of the world. It is important to check if you will need any vaccinations and if you have already had them in the past. Ensure you consider this for any travel you do including from the UK to your host country and travel from your host country to another country.

Useful links:  

EHIC Card (until 31st December 2020) 

If you are studying within the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, you will need to apply for a student EHIC. A regular EHIC will not be valid for your placement abroad. 

For more information visit: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/moving-abroad/studying-abroad/ 

COVID-19 
Ensure that you keep up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 developments for the country you will be living in. Things to consider: 
  • Allow extra time for all travel. For example, there may be longer waiting times in airport queues to allow for temperature checks and screenings, or local transportation may be running on a limited capacity. 
  • Know the guidance (e.g. rules on face masks and social distancing). 
  • Check university websites for information on campus and accommodation safety measures.

Peer Advisors are Keele students who have just returned from their year or semester abroad. They are available throughout the year to support students in their application for a year abroad providing excellent first hand experience of the process from beginning to end. They would love to hear from you so get in touch!