studying abroad: the application process

The application process for study abroad started last fall for me, when I decided for sure that I wanted to spend a semester at St. Andrews. When I was in high school, I wanted to be a Spanish double major and knew that I would have to study abroad for that–it has always been something that I looked forward to.  After my freshman year at Erskine, my favorite Spanish professor (Dr. Granados) took a yearlong sabbatical and I decided to double minor in family studies and Spanish instead.  However, I still wanted to go abroad and decided that St. Andrews would be a great place to go.  The University is currently celebrating its 600th anniversary–what better time to go and be a part of its history?

To begin the process, I talked with Dr. Gorka (our study abroad coordinator) and started filling out Erskine’s application in early February.  I also asked two of my favorite professors–Dr. Elsner [psychology] and Dr. Evans [Bible & Religion]–to write my letters of recommendation.  I submitted my completed study abroad application and student agreement in late February and heard back in mid-March from Dr. Christie that Erskine’s committee had accepted me.

Dr. Elsner also wrote my letter of recommendation for my St. Andrews application, and the Academic Office helped me send an official transcript.  I submitted that application on October 9 (the deadline for Spring applicants is October 31) and received my offer of acceptance on October 18.  If I remember correctly, I squealed and started dancing around my dorm room in my pajamas when I read the email and there may have been a few tears.  I am not ashamed.

I accepted my offer almost immediately and submitted my accommodations application that same week.  Coincidentally, I received an email from Delta around that time advertising a sale on airfare to Europe.  Within a week, I booked my flights for an amazing price.  I applied for and received my passport in August, so I did not have to worry about taking care of that while I was at school.

Since then I have been spending a lot of time looking through the course offerings at St. Andrews.  The British system of credits and classes is quite different from the American and several times I have found myself Google searching phrases or words to figure out what they mean.  There are several “honours-level” psychology classes, unlike any we offer at Erskine, which I am interested in taking.  Alternatively, I found an introductory level Divinity class, a Social Anthropology class, and a Scottish Music class, all of which look quite interesting if I need another course.

I have also set up my St. Andrews email account, which they do through Gmail. It’s a great set-up!  The University also has a webpage with a list of steps to be completed by applicants and another for incoming students, both of which I have found to be quite helpful. (If you are interested, here is the link: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/studyabroad/incomingstudents/internationalstudyabroadprogramme/.  The offer & entrant information link is on the left side.)

Moving through this process, I have realized that there are so many details to consider and take care of.  Fortunately, both Erskine and St. Andrews staff have been extremely helpful the entire time.  I have talked to Erskine’s financial aid and business offices several times each, and I always come away with all of my questions answered thoroughly and offers to help more should I need it.  I have had the same experience with St. Andrews: every person I have emailed has responded in a friendly and timely manner and I always find the answers I am looking for.

Today is the first day of January term classes at Erskine.  Although I am homesick for my college home and family, I realized this morning that I leave 2 weeks from tomorrow.  The closer my trip gets, the more excited I am!  I cannot wait to begin this exciting journey.

[Update: I do not have my housing situation resolved yet, but  I hope to hear from St. Andrews this week.]