Study abroad: The five biggest myths and what's really true

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Picture: Lee_seonghak / Pixabay

A semester abroad ...

Myth # 1: ... I cannot afford

Or do you?

With Erasmus+ (stays abroad within the EU) your semester abroad will be financially supported. The amount of support depends on the host country, up to 440 euros per month are possible. Generally, there are no tuition fees or similar.

Besides the semester abroad, there are also other possibilities, e.g. the Athens Program for one-week courses or the Erasmus Program for internships. Here, internships, e.g. in companies, authorities or NGOs, but also final theses such as bachelor and master theses can be funded.

The worldwide exchange via TUMexchange may be more expensive, as flights and living expenses often generate additional costs here and additional costs may be incurred at some universities. More information can be found in MoveOn at the respective university. At TUMexchange itself there is no financial support for the student, but the sometimes horrendous costs for semester fees are covered. In addition, there are other funding opportunities.

Myth # 2: ... is terribly complicated to arrange.

Or not after all?

Applying for a semester abroad under the Erasmus program is actually not very complicated. The most difficult part is to choose the right university from our many partners and to select the best modules for your learning agreement. If you have any questions, you can find detailed information on the TUM website. In addition, you are welcome to contact the international representative of your department or your departmental advisor, who will be happy to help you. A good source of information is also the student council or fellow students from higher semesters who have already completed a stay abroad.

It is even easier to apply for the Erasmus+ program for internships or theses. If you have found a suitable position, you only have to complete your application at least 4 weeks before the start of the internship.

Again, the worldwide exchange is a bit more complicated, since visa applications, vaccinations, etc. may be necessary, and the application must contain a bit more information (e.g. a letter of motivation). But also in this case we are happy to help you with words and deeds.

Myth # 3: ... is only available for the best students

Or is it not?

The grades are not decisive for a semester abroad. Your application only has to be supported by your student exchange coordinator. At the most, he or she will reject your application if you are already on the verge of exmatriculation. An average study success can be sufficient if there are enough places for a semester abroad. Even though the funding is called "scholarship", the focus here is not on elite support, but on European exchange and the cultural coalescence of the EU.

Again, TUMexchange – a stay abroad outside the EU – is a bit more demanding, because the places are more limited and you may be competing with several other, often very good applicants. In this case, previous grades do have an influence. However, if you don't apply, you don't stand a chance.

Myth # 4: ... does not earn me credits toward my degree.

Or does it?

In general, the achievements made abroad will also be credited. You must have the selection of your modules confirmed in a learning agreement by your student exchange coordinator. This usually ensures that your achievements will be recognized before your stay abroad.

The examination boards are usually relatively generous when it comes to crediting, but in individual cases there may be discrepancies. Then you have to find a good justification for the module or, if necessary, choose another one. As a rule, there are no problems with the recognition of examinations and/or course work completed abroad within the framework of elective modules, if the work completed is in the professional context of the course of study at TUM. Another advantage is that elective modules do not have to be subjected to a content and ECTS-based equivalency assessment, as is the case with compulsory modules. Consequently, the foreign performance is easily recognized by the foreign representative for elective modules.

Myth # 5: ... prolongs my studies.

Maybe:

In principle, every degree program should include a mobility window (Bachelor typically 4th or 5th semester, Master 3rd semester) in which elective modules are taken that you can also take at another university. Unfortunately, not all study regulations are up to date yet (depending on when they were last accredited), but more and more are offering this window for study abroad. Future revisions of degree programs will pay more attention to this opportunity for mobility.

Nevertheless, it should be said that even an extra semester should be taken in order to gain the invaluable experience of studying abroad. The experience gained (socially, linguistically, culturally, but of course also professionally) is always worth it and cannot be replaced by any money in this world!