No matter where you go, you're going to have an exciting experience

Michael on a trek in Australia
Michael Hanlon
Year abroad at Monash University
MEng Civil and Structural Engineering with a year abroad
Michael spent a year abroad at Monash University

Why did you decide to study abroad?

There just wasn't any valid reason not to! Just before I came to Sheffield I'd spoken to a former study abroad student who went to Australia and I couldn't really believe how much of a great opportunity it sounded like and so it was always a no brainer for me but I generally believe any cons of going away for a year (I can't think of any anyway) are hugely outweighed by the positives. I don't think you'll ever have a better opportunity to ease yourself into living in a different country than this as you'll be doing it with the 100 or more other exchange students. It could be tough if you were moving for a job perhaps as you'd likely be the only one or one of few beginning a new chapter but with study abroad you'll have so many people in exactly the same boat as you which is really reassuring after a big move. I can now see myself heading into employment in a foreign country with a lot more confidence and comfort than if I hadn't done study abroad. Who knows if I hadn't taken this opportunity I might have continued to make excuses for not making a big move and stayed on rainy Britain for the rest of my days. Also,I found starting at Sheffield a bigger transition than moving to Australia so there.

What were your top 3 highlights whilst studying abroad?

  1. Driving around in New Zealand with 2 best mates I'd met at Monash, where I managed to get the balls to fall through the sky
  2. Going on trips away with people from all over Europe just having a laugh about each others silly habits
  3. Christmas Day beach party in Sydney

What would you say to someone who was unsure about spending a period abroad?

Really question whether any of your doubts about going are really valid enough to stop you from missing out on such a fantastic opportunity. If you're worried about missing out on a year with your friends you've made in Sheffield, they'll still be about when you get back but now you'll the excuse to visit places all over the world to catch up with the friends you've made. You're just broadening your horizons rather than keeping your connections restricted to Sheffield. Who knows what new path you could end up on. Also would highly recommend staying in uni accommodation off for the first semester before moving out as that's where you'll be able to meet the most people and then you can choose who you want to live with. Don't stress about getting out of your comfort zone just go with flow and let yourself have some fun!

What is the one thing you wish you'd known before you left?

I wish I hadn't stressed about the destination so much! I think that no matter where you go, you're going to have the exciting experience of being in a new place with new opportunities to explore. You're enriching your university experience by going anywhere new so if you don't get into any of your choices and get offered somewhere random which was originally considered as a no I'd encourage you reconsider because I guarantee you'll get more out of a year somewhere else than another year in Sheffield. You've done Sheffield after all, move on and find the West Street of a new city! As for academic standing of the University, I really wouldn't stress as Sheffield would partner it if it was that bad and you'll be graduating with Sheffield degree regardless of where you go.