Alright! Greetings from the UK!
After tons of fill-out-forms and emails I finally got myself to England. I was supposed to write about the application process in Finland after I’ve had everything done, but things didn’t actually go as planned and that’s why it took me this long to write a new post here. Read forward and you will understand why.
So, what did it take to get myself from Jyväskylä, Finland to Preston, England? In my case the whole thing started during spring of 2015 when I decided I’d love to go abroad if it was still possible. I had a chat with my school’s exchange coordinator Armi and we looked into different options: Sweden, Germany.. Even Africa. The thing is, you have to find a place where you can work or do studies in your own field and with my school the options were a lot more limited than for example to people who study business. Basically I wanted to go somewhere where they have a distinctive culture and where I don’t have to be around ice and snow. Preston was pretty much just that. The british culture is well-known and it has a long and interesting history. Also, even though the weather isn’t all warm and sunny, it IS warmer. So we decided to try Preston out and do the applications in the fall semester, so that I could do my next practical training in Finland and leave for the exchange in January. Armi started the paperworks and I had to wait whether or not the exchange could be arranged. I might be wrong, but I understood that JAMK and UCLan haven’t been in partnership for that long yet and I think I’m the first student from my programme who applied for an exchange there. So she had to make sure that they’re able to take me in UCLan.
After summer had passed, I got the good news that the exchange will be possible and we started to look for the courses they offer and how we would fit them in my own study plan. I had to apply for the exchange in ASIO and fill out a Learning Agreement which contained the courses I wanted to do in UCLan and the courses I would do for JAMK while I’m abroad. There I was also able to select whether or not I want to apply for the Erasmus programme so I would be able to get an additional grant sponsored by them. There’s basically no reason to decline, so I ticked “yes”. The Learning Agreement was then sent to be signed by the departments of social studies in JAMK and UCLan. To get the Erasmus sponsorship I needed those three signatures.
Now, THIS is where things got.. well, not tricky – maybe more, like, sticky. You see, for some reason the papers never came back from UCLan and I had to apply with only two signatures – mine and JAMK’s. Luckily the people there understood my situation very well and granted me the sponsorship by saying that I would just need to get the papers signed by UCLan when I get there. I got the money three weeks before I was due to leave – just in time to get plane tickets that would still be in reasonable prizes. Without the money I wouldn’t have been able to come, so it was a lifesaver for sure.
In addition to the paperwork I had to do for JAMK, there were forms for UCLan too. Pretty much the same things that JAMK required, basic informations and such. UCLan also offers student accomodation in multiple halls they own in and near the campus area, but I found their prizes to be a bit too high for my taste. I searched for accomodation via Facebook and got myself a room in no time. I suggest you do the same too, if you’re thinking about coming to Preston. Of course living in the halls makes it easier for you to get to know other international students and you won’t have to clean your room, but for me, this was a better option. The university offered a free bus ride from Manchester airport to campus, so if I wanted to hop in, I had to fill an application for that as well. Naturally, since I’m a cheapskate, I booked myself a seat.
The first days here in the UK have been amazing! I’ll give you a story of the actual trip from Jyväskylä to Preston a bit later. Now I have to go and enjoy my new home. Maybe make myself a cup of tea, hah!