Oliver Wimbush plans to soon head off to San Fransisco State University after making the decision to invert his year abroad. With the challenges of COVID, Oliver walks you through the application process step by step.

So how did this happen? What lead up to me taking on this once in a lifetime opportunity, and what was the application process like? Well, I’m here today to answer all these questions, and give you insight into what its like preparing for a year of study abroad, and why you should consider it.

I began the year abroad process quite late. Well, very late. While I had considered it when applying for universities – and was very impressed by the range of placements UoB had on offer – I ended up putting no thought into it during first year, or even for the first couple of months of second year. I had reached the end of October 2020 and knew I was not quite finished with uni; I was by no means near the end of my degree, but I knew time was going to pass quickly, and I would find myself graduating in the blink of an eye. I wanted to travel more, explore new perspectives, and involve myself in other cultures. I began by contacting my department’s year abroad tutor and asking them whether it was too late to begin applying. Luckily for me, it wasn’t.

After a few short introductory videos and some useful files that showed where exactly I could apply, I had settled on a list of seven unis that I would be very happy to study at. Unfortunately, as my subject strictly relies on easy communication, teamwork, and practical skills, I was limited to only English-speaking countries, however I still felt a diverse selection of cultures and lifestyles were on offer: from New Zealand to America; Canada to Hawaii. 

With my unis selected, all that was left was completing my application to change my course from Drama and English to Drama and English with a Year Abroad, as well as actually applying for the year abroad scheme. throughout the process, both my personal tutor and my exchange tutor were of great help and gave me support whenever I needed it. The application – while not tricky – definitely took a bit of time to prepare, so keep that in mind if you are interested! Alongside filling out personal information for the records, I had to write a Statement of Purpose, which detailed why I am interested in each of the seven unis I chose. For this, I discussed the countries, cities, cultures, and courses on offer, mixing in both research and my own personal interests and ambitions.

I submitted my application with confidence, and in January 2021, I finally received the results: I got into San Francisco State University!! I was – and still am, extremely happy with this decision, and greatly anticipate spending so much time in one of America’s largest cultural hubs. Over the next few months, I contacted my exchange university and submitted a separate application for their records, primarily detailing personal and financial information. This stage of the process very much differs from university to university, so make sure that if you’re ever confused on what to do, you are asking the study abroad team for help!!

By May 2021, all applications had been submitted and I had received my visa information from San Francisco State; the only problem for me, was that I was unsure of how Covid-19 would impact my experience, and so I made the difficult decision to invert my year abroad – completing it after 3rd year, instead of between 2nd and 3rd

So here I am, in 3rd year, going through the process once again. I am as excited about my year abroad as I was this time last year; the application process remains simple and easy; and I could not recommend the experience enough to all those interested. Studying abroad is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am so grateful for the University of Birmingham for offering it! 

Blog post written by: Oliver Wimbush