As promised I am telling you the story of how studying abroad became my dream and how I made it into a plausible reality. It will be done in a timeline format because why not!
2009-2010: My older brother spends his third year abroad in Cincinnati, Ohio. As my brother travelled for college, my interest in studying abroad became a vague pipe dream.
Early 2012: When I was in 5th year in secondary school, I was in my careers class. Our teacher gave us college prospectives. Since University College Cork was one of my colleges of interest, I decide to read that one first. I was thinking about doing arts for a few months beforehand but wasn’t fully sure at the time. I looked at the arts pages and I was interested in what was said. The career guidance counsellor later explained that UCC were allegedly starting an Arts International course in 2013. The year I’d start college (provided I wouldn’t screw up the Leaving Cert).
My sister confirms she would attend her third year of commerce in Glasgow, Scotland.
Late 2012: As Leaving Cert year started, I visited universities including University College Cork. I find out that Arts International is confirmed as an upcoming course. There is not much information but it caught my interest nonetheless. In November I put Arts International in UCC as my first choice in the Central Applications Office (CAO).
June 2013: I completed my Leaving Certificate exams.
August 2013: I got 435 points in my Leaving Cert results (and was pretty stoked by that). The following Monday, I received my offer for Arts International. I found out later that day that the course was worth 430 points, meaning I got in by 5 points on merit alone. I was shocked and relieved!
September 2013: I attend my Arts International orientation day (which had many speakers, including my future boyfriend!) I receive information that I would have meetings with my course director in second year. I also become officially registered.
September 2014: As I started my second year of Arts International, my entire course year received a notification that we must do a module about different aspects of the international community. We were only told 2 days before registration. Most of it was boring and irrelevant but learning about the migration issue to Europe and the Mexican/US border control was fascinating. (And the Mexican/US border topic made me want to watch Breaking Bad a lot). This incident taught me to not rely on academic authority for giving information and just seek it yourself.
November 2014: After much concern from the other BA International students, there is a meeting held by the course director about the different universities on offer for the language students, the non-language students for North America, and the non-language students for Europe (which is what I am). I had interest in going to either the UK or the Netherlands given that a language wasn’t required and they weren’t too far away. In the submission form, I put down University of Sussex as my first choice.
I initially panicked since it made no mention that I could do my subjects English and Sociology at the same time. I stated to my director if I couldn’t do one of my subjects, I wouldn’t do the year. He stated that doing both subjects was not only easily possible, but mandatory to do both subjects while in the year away.
March 2015: By the end of February I was getting pretty concerned I had no word from the course director about what college I ended up getting into. I put my question into action by emailing him once a week until I got my answer. On March 5th, I received a reply stating that University of Sussex has a place on offer for me. I was so excited that day because I had a better idea of where I was going. I was with my friends at the student centre and I sort of made a screeching noise!
Roughly a week later, my course has a final meeting regarding advice on the year abroad. The advice included academic, practical and emotional advice which will more than likely come in handy for many students.
April 2015: In the weeks leading up to my summer exams, I received information on application forms for University of Sussex. I was to send in the information within a week or so by the end of April. There were two problems. Firstly, I couldn’t fill in all of the form immediately and would take several days to be sent to Sussex from Cork. Secondly, I also had all my exams the week of the deadline so it was tricky to divide my time between both tasks. As a result I ended up to pick my subjects at 4am after looking up subjects for several hours. (Not a smart move on my part. I’m still unsure how subjects work there.) But I sent it on time in the end with the help of the UCC International Office.
June 2015: June was a difficult month for me. The reason for this is simple: my anxiety over the unknown and negativity default caused me to panic and doubt the whole year. It all started with discussing housing on campus with others. The truth is English college accommodation is roughly twice as much as Irish student housing. And with the Pound/Euro rate doesn’t favour the Euro, it didn’t get much better. I noticed that the cheaper the housing, the more people in the flat. I flat out refused to live with too many people again (7 other girls in first year, we got into an argument, I left days later). Since cost and the inability to live with big crowds went against me, I doubted everything to the point I was 70% sure of not doing the year. For several days I had a catch 22: Go and risk screwing things up whilst having no friends, no way out, wasting money, time and effort, as well as missing home. OR Stay in Cork and give up a dream I had for 3 years, wondering what if and regretting not going for a very long time to come. I explained to my disability officer the situation and she convinced me that issues can be solved by asking questions to college staff, researching relevant parts of the website, and finding avenues to sort out a compromise between a good cost and a decent house. That was exactly what I did and it made my life easier. If it weren’t for my disability officer, I wouldn’t be doing it. If she is reading, I wish to thank you.
July 2015: I applied for my housing. I settled on an en-suite bedroom which has no more than 6 people per flat (which I can deal with), and in reasonably quiet location. I also filled out a disability form for what I would like in my housing.
My mother started organising what could be taken to England for my year away.
August 2015: I received news of my housing. It was in a place called Northfield. I never wrote down into application form. Again I panicked and thought negative things. My siblings reassured me that they didn’t get choices they initially applied for but liked their accommodation in the end. Also the housing doesn’t look so bad either. I joined the house Facebook group and found one of my housemates. (Hi Jonas!) I allegedly have two other housemates but they are nothing but room numbers right now. I also applied to the Sussex Buddy Scheme, i.e. people from the college pair up with either Freshers or Exchange students and help them settle into college. The buddy scheme has several events on offer; honestly they are pretty cool and I want to go to most of them. Currently, I am packing up my things for England and arranging my goodbyes to friends and family.
Next week I will be doing the final part of the prologue. See you then!
Erasmus Diary Introduction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t39XewtMt28