Why you should consider studying abroad this summer

  1. Study new subjects in a new part of the world

Follow new language, cultural or academic pursuits whilst discovering an exciting new part of the world.

  1. Learn how to adapt to new environments

Being able to adapt to change and a new setting is an important part of the working world, and life in general. These traits are valued by employers, along with flexibility, cultural sensitivity and the ability to work effectively with a range of people for example.

  1. Build an international network

Taking part in a summer school programme will enable you to meet people from across the world, who could be valuable connections in the future.

  1. Enriching cultural experiences

You could discover iconic historical sites such as the Taj Mahal, Medellin and the Leshan Giant Buddha whilst immersing yourself in a new culture.

  1. Learn a new language

A range of language courses such as Spanish in Medellin or Mandarin in Shanghai are available on top of other modules.

  1. Gain life skills for future

Whatever you do after finishing university, studying abroad is a great way to gain skills and experiences that will stay with you for life. Book a careers appointment if you would like to discuss how you can make the most of such experiences on your applications and at interview.


This year the Partner Summer School Programme has more places available than ever before. QMUL will be offering places in Colombia (Medellin), China (Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Zhejiang), and India (New Delhi and Vellore) across a range of programmes.

There will be approximately 30 grants of £500 available to apply for to help with the costs of the programme. All students are eligible to apply for a grant, but will be required to submit a 400-word essay at the end of the application form.

More information on the costs and schedule of each programme and how to apply can be found by emailing summerabroad@qmul.ac.uk and on the Study Abroad website: http://www.qmul.ac.uk/undergraduate/exchange/otheropportunities/

The deadline for applications is 18th March 2016.

Good luck!

My time in China




Chandni Mehta is a 2nd year Chemistry student at QMUL. Here she tells us about her experience on the 2014 China Immersion Programme.


Nǐ Hǎo! -“你好”

Recently I went to China, to the city of Chengdu, which is the Sichuan province capital. Here I participated in Sichuan University’s international immersion program with students from universities from around the globe. The opportunity to participate in this programme was a result of Queen Mary’s partnership with Sichuan University in China. I found out about this opportunity from the study abroad department and having learned about the details I knew I had to apply! I was really excited about the chance of studying abroad.

Whilst on the program I selected a module called Cooperative Games, this led me to having a lot of fun and interaction with the students. I was also given basic lessons in Chinese culture and Mandarin. We spent lots of time with the local students which allowed us to really appreciate the differences between Chinese students’ lifestyle and our own.

A Vegetarian’s Introduction to China – “没有”

I can only imagine the sense of nervous apprehension felt by many international students as they wave goodbye to their families and board a seemingly endless flight to begin their course in an unknown country. As for me, I was only making the 11 hour journey for a 2 week adventure, although hearing rumours such as “if it moves, the Chinese eat it” certainly got me worried. How would I cope being a Vegetarian? Would my basic knowledge of Mandarin get me by? Would the people be helpful? Would I meet a good group of people? It turns out I needn’t have worried. As long as you know the name of the place you’re going (preferably written in Chinese too) and a smart phone with a translation app you’re sorted! People in China are very helpful so if you’re lost or unsure where you’re going they’d happily help you out. As for being a Vegetarian, China can be a very frustrating place for a lao wai, but if you try to skip the food and stay with the Western establishments then you are missing out, so I’d advise downloading an app called ‘happycow’ prior to going to China. It gave me headstart with the Chinese-Vegetarian restaurants near me and there were quite a few. One that I would recommend is Sunflower Daddy – vegetarian and delicious!

First Impressions

china 2Upon arrival at Chengdu airport, we were greeted by two lovely and very helpful Chinese students who could speak English quite well. They took us to our hotel which was based on university campus, sorted out our rooms and showed us around the university which is much bigger than Queen Mary I must say! They even got us sim-cards soon as we requested them! Maintaining great communication with these students is important, at least in the first few days whilst you’re getting acquainted with everything around you. Also they are there to ensure you have the best experience and face as little of a difficulty as possible. So do make use of them.

Adventure is key to having a great time in China! Food and transport in Chengdu is very cheap – and extremely convenient! You could probably get a taxi for less than £2. And their metro is the equivalent to the Metropolitan line with an equivalent Oyster card! The transport system is great in Chengdu. Make sure you have written down in Chinese where you plan to go, so in case you get lost, you can get a local to help you out – although there’s a strong possibility that the person you ask will not understand a word of English so be prepared – but also don’t worry, these locals will be more than happy to help out a foreigner!

Life at Sichuan University

Studying a module at Sichuan University with Chinese Students was probably among the most memorable experience. If you’re lucky you’re the only one who has selected the module among your peers and therefore you’re on your own. Classes are usually taught every day and therefore you have to make your own way, this probably is the most exciting part, as you’ll find yourself in the limelight (the only foreigner in the class!) You’ll find students whom are extremely excited to show you around and take you out to explore at their own initiative. The classes are pretty chilled out too and extremely interesting and I’m not just talking for myself but from my peers who went to different classes and absolutely loved the experience. My Monday to Saturday was pretty full on and filled with cultural activities and classes. Sichuan University also planned a big bang theory competition and a debate competition, and it was compulsory for everyone to participate in either one. I participated in the big bang theory competition where I had to present my research on the Human Genome – this was an absolutely nerve wrecking experience, nonetheless there were prizes and I won the prize for ‘outstanding scientific research’.

china 3Sichuan University also planned a trip to the famous ‘Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding’ – admittedly once you visit this place you’d find Panda’s cute! Even though their life only consists of eating bamboo and sleeping, they’re still cute. Also, Pandas are the national animal of China so you’d naturally grow to love them.

Life outside of Sichuan University

I did have the evenings and Sundays off so we made the most of it especially when you’re with international students – this involved going a lot of shopping, a lot of walking, adventures and KTV (karaoke). One Sunday we travelled to Leshan to see the Giant Buddha, the tallest Buddha statue in the world carved out of a cliff. The experience was great and involved a wonderful adventure and a lot of walking. Another amazing experience was going to monasteries – it’s where you will fall in love with Chinese architecture. Shopping was probably among the best experiences, I can guarantee that by the end of the trip you’d have learnt the art of haggling!

And lastly KTV, we didn’t just go once, but twice! An absolute wonderful experience with international and Chinese students, you all share a room stocked with food and drinks and you sing the night away singing almost all the English songs you know. You’ll learn some Chinese songs too – or at least a rough idea of the tune anyway!

Goodbye China – “再见”

Having gained such a wonderful experience and memory it felt as if my trip came to a premature end, there’s always so much to see and such little time. Knowing that the people you met, you probably won’t ever meet them again got everyone a bit emotional, nonetheless a wonderful atmosphere and definitely a recommended adventure of a lifetime! Thanks to this programme, I gained a lot of interpersonal skills, grew in confidence and independence. To be able to write about a great experience will certainly be an advantage to my CV. I hope more people take up such opportunities to gain valuable experiences and to make most of the available opportunities at university.

Are you interested in postgraduate study in the USA in 2015-16 or beyond?

Fulbright Scholarships for 2015-16 – For UK Citizens to Study in the USA

Application Deadline: 1 November 2014

The Fulbright Commission is the only organisation that offers scholarships for academic work in any subject, at any accredited US university. Each year, we give awards to approximately 40 UK citizens, including approximately 25 at the postgraduate-level. More than
funding, our awards offer scholars the opportunity to have a transformative cultural and academic experience and provide unparalleled support both during and after their Fulbright year. In addition to the all-disciplines category, we also offer subject-specific awards in partnership with prestigious UK and US institutions in fields such as public affairs, journalism, law, finance and information science.

(Non-UK citizens are encouraged to use our advisory service in the UK and attend USA Grad School Day, but to apply for Fulbright scholarships through the Commission or Embassy in their home country.)

For more information: Visit the Fulbright Awards page of www.fulbright.org.uk

Postgraduate Study in the US Advice

Fulbright’s advising team is the official source of information on US higher education for the UK.Visit http://www.fulbright.org.uk for a step-by-step guide to applying to US universities.

Fantastic website if you’re thinking about work, study or volunteering abroad

I came across this website today which is a fantastic resource for those of you wanting to work, study or volunteer abroad:


Not only does it have very good search options to help you find what you’re looking to do and where you want to go to do it, but it includes a verification system for the organisations listed on the site.

So go take a look to get inspired.

Heather Campbell
Careers Information Assistant
QM Careers & Enterprise Centre

Study Abroad with Queen Mary’s International Exchange Programme

If you are considering Queen Mary’s International Exchange Programme, or studying abroad in general,  you may be interested in the positive experience of Tori Fox. She was a Politics and International Relations student who took the opportunity to study for a year in the University of California (UCSD). Tori graduated with First Class Honours in 2012 and has written about her international experiences for our blog.

“Living in California definitely changed me in several ways.  It was an amazing experience in terms of personal growth. You get to meet so many people from everywhere and everyone is so open. Living in a campus helps building relationships because it’s less dispersive than a city like London. These things might seem stupid or superficial but they are really important to think about when choosing a university. Also, for students of politics and IR in particular, the possibility to build strong international networks is really useful and inspiring.

*As International Exchange Programme reciprocity students, we pay half of the QMUL fee but receive a University level/services that correspond to what American students pay (thousands and thousands of dollars), which means amazing libraries, facilities, free gym and concerts, top professors, and on-campus employment opportunities (a real deal!) More details at www.qmul.ac.uk/undergraduate/exchange/index.html

*These experiences stand out in a CV, and I would say that represent almost a requirement for students pursuing a career in international politics at the UN or EU etc. For example they played a big role when I applied for an internship at the European Commission in the summer right after my year in San Diego. Being only a second year undergraduate student I didn’t have much experience, but the exchange plus the activities at the university (e.g. my participation at the Model United Nations, Clinton Global Initiative University, on-campus jobs, and intensive French classes) made a good impression. Thanks to this, in summer 2011, I had the opportunity to work at the European Commission with the Spokesperson of vice-president Tajani- the best experience ever!

*In American universities you take way more classes than in London, the amount of reading is almost the same it’s just that you have more classes per week. In this way, you are exposed to many more topics and notions, which can help you specialise in certain aspects of politics or even discover new ones. (I was really glad to take classes like policy analysis or international organizations, which were not offered at QM). Plus, you can also do electives that are not necessarily politics related (e.g. I took intensive French classes). Every three months you finish your classes so during breaks and vacations you don’t have to worry about studying.

*Professors are very high profile and available to talk to you and help you out (the environment is even more informal than London’s). Thanks to these relations, I got very strong recommendation letters for my master’s applications from “famous” professors, which always help.

*Since the American system is very pragmatic (and less philosophical/speculative) than the European one, this experience definitely helped me focus and understand my career goals in terms of actual career positions rather than ideological standings.

Given all this, I looked forward to finishing my third year at QM and then come back to the US. My ultimate career goal is to work for the EU, but I felt that I needed to become a better professional first through a very pragmatic program. I applied and got accepted at NYU where I’m doing a master of public administration (specializing in international public policy and management). It’s great because it gives me many tools in finance, management, statistics, policy analysis (stuff that makes you more competitive in the job market). This program is two years long but you can work while attending classes. I just got an internship at the Clinton Foundation, and will start on Monday! This is to say that all these things add up, and the experience in California definitely played a first important part.

I would definitely recommend students to participate, this was a life-changing experience and if I had the opportunity to do it again I would get involved in even more activities.

Considering working or studying abroad?

Getting a job or taking a course in a foreign country can be a fantastic way to travel and to immerse yourself in another culture, develop language skills and boost your CV.

If this is something that you’re considering or you’d just like to find out a bit more then take a look at the prospects website. You’ll find a list of country profiles, which offer country specific guidance on how to go about finding work or courses in your chosen destination as well as advice on how to apply for visas and what to expect when you get there. Recent additions include Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Finland, France and Spain.

For more information or help with applications,  contact us on 0207 882 8533 or see us in Queens’ Building WG3 to make an appointment with a Careers Consultant.

Thinking about studying in the USA?

As a visiting careers adviser coming from Queen Mary to Northeastern University this summer, I’m learning a few things about how the American university system differs from the UK.  Here are some thoughts if you are considering post-graduate study in the US:

1) Jargon: university is called ‘school’ and post-graduate study is called ‘graduate study’.

2) To study in the US you need to take the GRE or the GMAT.  Typically arts/humanities subjects will require the GRE and other subjects the GMAT.  A new, much tougher GRE is coming out on July 23rd so if you have been practicing the old GRE you need to book as soon as possible to take it in its current form before July 23rd.  Your score is valid for 5 years when making applications. For more see www.ets.org/gre

3) When you are looking at which institution to choose, consider whether they have a co-op programme. This is essentially a work-placement programme built into the masters, where you would spend some of your time working in an area related to your field.  It is facilitated by the university,  who have links to companies who recruit their students for a co-op placement every year.  Even if the institution is slightly lower down in rankings, if it has a co-op programme you can participate in, you will come out more employable – employers want experience and this gives it to you!

4) It’s worth pointing out that the US makes it very hard for anyone from overseas to work full-time here.  So if you purely want to study and then return home, studying in the USA will be a great experience.  But if you are considering study as a ‘way in’ for you to get a job in the USA you might like to rethink your strategy.  Your visa would give you something called ‘OPT’ which allows you to do 1 year’s work, but after that unless you get employer sponsorship for your visa it’s pretty tough to stay in the country!

5) Finally, exploring another country is fun, so studying in the USA is a great opportunity to expand your horizons!  There are so many cultural differences, such as saying restroom rather than toilet (considered terribly rude!) or getting only 10 days annual leave a year as a worker, as well as differences in climate and pace of life.  These are all things which greet the intrepid student (or visiting careers adviser!) on entry to the USA and it is these differences which are part of the challenge, the adventure and the fun of studying, working and living in another country.

Abi Sharma, Queen Mary Careers Adviser, visiting careers adviser at Northeastern University, Boston.