We know that the Year Abroad is incredibly exciting, but we also know that it can seem a bit daunting. This is why we have a support network in place to help you not only while you prepare to go abroad, but also while you are abroad and we are still here on your return to help you settle back in to Year 4 in Bangor.
Before You Go Abroad
Support for the Year Abroad begins before you go abroad and ML students will find support from three different sources (1) Year Abroad Coordinators in the School; (2) the International Exchange Team and (3) Student Support Services. Prior to departure, you will have important information meetings led by Year Abroad Coordinators and a pre-departure orientation training day which will offer you vital information for preparing for your Year Abroad. (For more information on this, see Before you leave).
Remember, it is never too early to start thinking about your Year Abroad and your experience will be even more fulfilling if you prepare well before you leave. This involves not only making sure that you think about the learning outcomes for your Year Abroad and research your destination, but also making sure that you plan ahead if you have any support requirements. If you avail of Student Services at Bangor and you are registered with Disability Service, the Miles Dyslexia Centre, Student Counselling or Mental Health, it is important that you liaise with them prior to departure to discuss how to best manage your requirements while abroad.
While You are Abroad
During your Year Abroad, just because you are out of sight, this does not mean you are out of our minds in any way! In fact, the guidance and support which you receive at Bangor extends to you while you are abroad.
- Your Year Abroad Coordinators will be in regular contact with you while you are abroad, so make sure you check your University email regularly. This is very important particularly if you are splitting the year between different placements in different countries, as you will need to complete the application procedure for your second placement while on your first (and, for Triplists, your third placement while on your second).
- Sometimes, you may feel a bit at sea when you first arrive. This is very normal, as you are trying to negotiate an unfamiliar system and a new culture. If you are experiencing problems registering for classes, do get in touch with your Year Abroad Coordinator to let them know. They may be able to offer you some useful advice on how to substitute modules to ensure you have the right number of credits. Please remember, that you may not always be able to register for courses that you had earmarked before departure (curricula may change or you may be placed on a waiting list if you miss deadlines); it is important to isolate other courses which may be useful for helping you to develop your language skills and subject knowledge. Don’t be afraid to ask local staff or students for advice.
- Even though you will have talked about homesickness and culture shock at the Pre-Departure Orientation Day, the reality of this may only hit you when you arrive in abroad. If this is a problem for you, do take the time to re-read Tina Usherwood’s guide to the ups and downs of studying abroad (this is also relevant for students on an assistantship or a work placement). Remember studying or working abroad will be very different to life at Bangor and all students experience culture shock to some extent during their stay abroad. It can also crop up unexpectedly throughout the year. You shouldn’t feel let down or a failure if you don’t feel at home immediately. Everyone adjusts differently. Try to remind yourself of your personal learning goals for your Year Abroad and think about how you are trying to achieve them and what you have already achieved thus far! Make sure you build in some fun tasks and take time to enjoy the cultural differences!
If you find that culture shock is becoming a serious problem for you, do contact your Year Abroad Coordinator and / or your Personal Tutor for confidential advice.
- Your Personal Tutor will be in touch with you by email during your stay abroad to monitor your progress and discuss any concerns with you. If necessary, they can arrange a Skype chat with you.
- If you are registered with the Miles Dyslexia Centre before you leave Bangor, the Centre can offer you email support while you are abroad. If you think you may have difficulties with study which could be because of learning differences, make sure you talk to the Centre before you go abroad and they will advise you if you need a more formal assessment.
- If you are a UK student who is eligible for DSA support while at Bangor, this support may continue while you are abroad. Please get in touch with Disability Service as early as possible to discuss this before you go abroad.
- If you are registered with Disability Services, you should discuss with them how to manage your Year Abroad needs prior to departure, as – in liaison with the Year Abroad Coordinator and the Partner Institution -- they may be able to help you ensure your requirements are met (as far as logistically possible). They may also be able to extend virtual support to you if necessary while you are abroad (where possible, through email or Skype). Do get in touch with Disability Service before you go abroad to see the different ways that they can help you.
- If you are registered with Student Counselling, you should discuss how to manage your Year Abroad with your Counsellor prior to departure. While Student Counselling does not offer email counselling to students, students who are already in touch with Counselling prior to departure may be able to come to an arrangement with their Counsellor that they can remain in email contact during their stay. In cases of serious trauma (e.g. tsunami or similarly disruptive events), Counselling will offer telephone support where necessary. If you are experiencing distress, you can access “The Big White Wall”. This is a peer support network which offers community support 24/7; it encourages you to be open about what is on your mind, to learn more about yourself and to work through what is troubling you. The Wall is monitored by Wall Guides, who can help you to manage difficulties. There are different ways to join (membership may cost £24 per month), but if you email email@example.com, you may be able to receive a free trial period of access.
Keeping in Touch
Once you arrive at your host institution, please keep in contact with us. We like hearing from you, so don’t wait for things to go wrong before you get in touch! (We also really like hearing about things that are going well!) We do our best to stay in touch with you, so make sure you are checking your University email regularly. If you want us to contact you at a different email address, please let us know.
Sometimes, a quick chat can help clear things up quickly. If you would like to arrange a Skype chat or a telephone call with your YA Coordinator or your Personal Tutor, please email them to arrange this.
Please register your new contact details with us as soon as you know where you will be living as it is important that we have a valid address and contact number for you. You can help us by filling in the address form and emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org (you should also cc the International Office). If you move or change your telephone number, just send us an email and let us know.