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Why you should spend a Semester Abroad

Dog dressed as a tourist

Have you always thought about doing a semester abroad, but thought it was too difficult? If you can handle piles of paperwork (but heck – you’re studying law right?), a few panicked meltdowns about leaving Australia (and then about coming back again) a semester abroad is actually within your reach.

Here a few reasons to consider…

It’s More Affordable Than You Think

One of the main objections to doing a semester abroad is finances, but with student grants and government loans an exchange semester can become a bit more affordable.

Look into your eligibility for a HELP loan which you pay off through your HECS repayments. These loans are available to Australian citizens enrolled in Australian universities who have at least one semester left of compulsory subjects in their university degree, among other criteria. You can have two HELP loans in your lifetime and the maximum amount you can borrow is currently $6,051.

Most universities in Australia will also offer small grants to students accepted into exchange programs. Is the uni you’re looking at really popular? If finances are an issue, consider the possibility of going to a less popular destination. Most universities partnered with Australian ones require equal exchange of students – ie. if three students from [x] University in Spain want to come to Australia, there needs to be three Australians wanting to go to the same [x] University.

At my university, additional grants of up to six thousand dollars were on offer to students wanting to go to China because of the language barrier, or six thousand to the Netherlands because of a new partnership.

Centrelink is another avenue to help you finance your semester abroad. Because you’ll be enrolled full time in an overseas institution, you’re still entitled to student payments so look into your eligibility for Centrelink payments.

It’s a semester where your GPA stays exactly the same

When you do a semester abroad, the subjects you take will typically count as unspecified credits, meaning that provided you pass your subjects, it won’t affect your GPA.

Do you have a great GPA? If you needed a sea change from your current setting, you can do it without worrying about adversely affecting your marks, which makes travelling, meeting new people and settling into a new environment a bit less stressful.

You’ll study interesting subjects and/or be taught by lecturers that aren’t available at your home university

Are your electives options a bit uninspiring? By doing a semester abroad, you’ll be exposed to subjects that might never be on offer at your university. Do you have an interest in European Union Law, International Terrorism Legislation or World Trade Organisation law? These were some of the subjects on offer in my exchange university that weren’t available at my home uni.

You’ll Make a Bunch of Friends

It sounds cheesy, but it’s a big part of the exchange experience. Not only will you make connections from all over the world, you’ll get an insight into how other students go about their law degrees. Your awe at how others memorise civil law codes will be matched by their amazement at the number of cases we have to read.

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