Study Abroad Success Story — Griffin

22-year-old Griffin spent the 2015-16 academic year studying in the United States.  

Where did you go for your year abroad?

I went to the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, USA.

Why did you choose to study in USA

For the course I did, I thought it was absolutely essential to study in America. It’s one thing being taught American history from the perspective of lecturers in the UK, it’s another thing being taught it from an American perspective. As for why I chose Notre Dame specifically, it has a really good academic reputation in America. I eventually want to move out there to live and work and so to be able to say I studied at such a well-established university could be big help to getting work over there.

Read our top five reasons to study and Ameircan Studies degree

What was the application process like?

Straightforward but time consuming. There were lots of applications I had to fill in for the university and sorting out my visa, accommodation, insurance all took time. The study abroad team at my university were really helpful throughout the whole process though.

How did your family and friends react to the news?

My family was very supportive of me going abroad. Plus, it gave my parents an excuse to have a holiday in Chicago to see me!

Were you comparing America with another country when you were considering your study options?

Not at all. I was always going to go to America for my year abroad.

How did the fees in the US compare to what you would have paid in the UK?

I paid my tuition fees to my home rather than my host university, and they were massively subsidised. I only paid 15% of the full £9,000 I would normally pay so it worked out at less than £2,000 for the year. That’s especially cheap when compared with how much America students pay for their tuition at Notre Dame — they were paying around $60,000 per year!

What about the cost of living?

For my accommodation and my meal plan, it cost me around $13,000 (£9,000), which is quite a lot more than what I would pay at home. Luckily, Indiana is cheap for other things — I found that public transport, buying clothes, going for meals, and going out was much cheaper. This varied from city to city though — if you were looking at either the west coast or the north east it would cost a lot more.

How did you find the experience of living and studying in the US?

I absolutely loved it. It was the best year of my life. I met some really great people and was made to feel welcome immediately — the stereotype about Americans loving a British accent is definitely true! I also developed a lot as a person, I became much more mature and confident while I was out there which I don’t think would’ve happened if I had stayed in my comfort zone at UEA.

What are you doing now your course is finished?

After my year abroad, I returned to UEA to complete the final year of my degree. I graduated with a first and within two months of graduating I secured a job as a content producer for the Complete University Guide.

Were there any things you found difficult about living in the US?

There was definitely an element of culture shock, but that was to be expected. I think there's a misconception that because of our shared language the UK and the US are really similar, but there are a lot of cultural and social norms that are very different. For instance, America is a more politically conservative country and so I encountered some views I was not used to and disagreed with. 

How do you think your experience of studying abroad will be viewed by employers and was this a factor in your decision?

I think employers see it as a positive. All the interviews I’ve had have asked about the year abroad — it’s something interesting that makes you stand out from the other applicants and gives you something extra to talk about. But it was not a factor in my decision to go abroad, it was just an added bonus of going.