Before you go abroad

Before you can go abroad, there are a lot of requirements that must be checked off. The key is to tackle them one at a time, so it doesn’t overwhelm you. If you considering going abroad, but not sure where, look at all of the programs that are offered from McCombs’ study abroad website. (https://my.mccombs.utexas.edu/My/BBA/IP/Programs-Overview) Get a feel for the classes that you might be able to take and claim credit for. In addition, think about the goals you want to accomplish while you’re abroad. For example, I wanted to improve my Spanish speaking ability, experience European culture, and see both historical and scenic landmarks of the continent. Do some research and thinking upfront so you can get the most out of your experience abroad.

The next step is to complete your application. (NOTE that you must attend an information session before you can apply.) The application consisted of general information, an essay, and two recommendation letters. (https://my.mccombs.utexas.edu/My/BBA/IP/Programs-Overview/BBA-Exchange-Programs/Exchange-Application) Start the application early so you have more time to think about the essay prompt and request the recommendation letters. A good idea would be to notify your professor of the application deadline when you ask for the letter and check up with them occasionally to see if they’ve submitted it.

After your application is submitted, it generally takes two weeks for you to get your result back. During this time, check the financial aid website for scholarships and grants you may be eligible for. (https://my.mccombs.utexas.edu/My/BBA/IP/Funding) Start searching for financial aid early, as many applications open a year in advance. From my own experience, many scholarship applications were closed when I started looking in the Summer of 2016 for Spring 2017 aid. I was fortunate to receive the Gilman Scholarship – which requires Pell grant eligibility in addition to other requirements.

If you were accepted to the program of your choice, congratulations! Now you must complete some additional requirements prior to your departure. Some requirements may include attending informational meetings, acquiring a student visa, and finding housing. Make sure you keep an eye out for e-mails from the BBA study abroad office. They will help you stay organized and remind you of upcoming deadlines. Complete what you can as soon as you can; the longer you put these requirements off, the more daunting it will seem when you finally get to it.

For students studying at ICADE, I will roughly go over my own experiences so you can get an estimate of your own timeline. I completed most of the required documents on my Study Abroad Portal by the beginning of October. However, to obtain a student visa, you will need an acceptance letter from ICADE (I did not receive mine until early October). I would suggest making an appointment with the Houston Consulate ASAP, as those spots quickly fill up the longer you wait. I turned in my application in late October to the Houston Consulate and received my VISA a week later. The turnaround time for later applications take around 3-4 weeks, so plan accordingly.

After I received my VISA, I began looking on www.spotahome.com and www.fotocasa.es/en/ for housing in Madrid. I found several beautiful homes on fotocasa. However, they were slow in replying to me (if they even replied). Spotahome was much more helpful; they usually replied to my messages in an hour or so. Be aware that spotahome will charge your credit card when you request an apartment booking. This became a problem for me when my bank took a week to cancel a failed apartment booking – holding up much needed credit and preventing me from booking another room. I really like my apartment though. There are two bathrooms and seven bedrooms. My rent, 424 euros, includes everything like water, electricity, and a maid. I have a TV, heater, fridge and AC in my own room. I would suggest reading the descriptions closely so you get the most for your money!

UPDATE: As of late January, I will be moving out of the apartment I initially signed up for. The reason is because there is no common area for my flatmates and friends to hang out. I am moving to an apartment with a large living room on the first floor (the stairs are awful, especially after a long day) for 500 euros a month. Understanding what aspects of your living situation are most important to you will help you find the best place for you.

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