With exam season at an end, second year Music students that have opted to take a Year Abroad are starting to set off to villages, towns and cities all across the world.
This year’s cohort are the first to fully benefit from the new “Insider’s Guide to the Year Abroad” resource. Created in response to student feedback, the project has been developed by Libby Finan and Shantel Edwards from the College of Arts and Law Student Experience Team and student ambassadors. Hosted within Canvas (the university’s virtual learning environment) it provides practical advice and peer support, providing real life advice direct from the experience of fourth year students from all across the College of Arts and Law who have already completed their Year Abroad.
Second years will have benefitted from advice on an array of topics, including checklists of important administrative things they need to do; country-specific advice on practical things like sorting out mobile phones or opening a bank account; tips on places to visit; advice on welfare issues like dealing with homesickness or long distance relationships. The advice is presented via the medium of written posts and short videos.
Possibly one of the most useful sections of the Guide is the interactive map, which enables students to find out who else is travelling to the same university / region as them so that they can connect before they leave. There are also discussion forums; online noticeboards to share information, ask questions; and the Guide also contains official signposts to advice and support and links to useful sites.
Amy Jakar, a final year BA American and Canadian Studies student that contributed to the project says “I think the real value in this project is that most of the information comes from us, the students. Although it's really important to receive information from lecturers and tutors about the academic aspect of the year abroad, the Insider's Guide provides details that can't come from staff at the University. You get more of an idea of our different experiences which I think will really help students hoping to go abroad.”
The Guide is accessible whilst students are abroad, allowing them to remain connected to the University and access useful information and contact details whilst away. The Guide will also benefit students as they come to the end of their time away – it includes resources and support for retuning students to help ease the transition back into university life.