First steps towards spending time abroad

Starting planning

The first step towards planning a stay abroad is often difficult. In order to make it easier for you to get started, we have gathered some questions you should consider and possible ways of answering them. Before you begin to make wide-ranging plans, you should gather as much information as possible and consider how you would like to spend your time abroad. The information events organised by the Central Office for International Affairs can help you to make your preparations more specific. The questions given below are just intended to give initial guidance, more detailed questions and answers are available in our FAQs and on the pages about going abroad.

Key questions to clarify in the first instance

First of all, you should consider how much time you want to spend abroad. If you want to spend six months or a year in another country, studying is a good option for you. If you would like to live abroad for a few months during the semester break, an internship would be one way of doing so, and if you would just like to have a brief taster of the culture in a foreign country you could apply for a language course, or a place on a summer or winter school.

There are several different ways of spending time abroad. Which one is best for you depends on how far on in your studies you are, your language abilities, the period of time you would like to spend abroad and your financial means.

  • Studying
  • Completing or carrying out research for your final thesis
  • Internship, teaching placement, final year of medical degree (clinical rotation)
  • Language course for learning the language of the country
  • Short subject-related stay abroad: summer school/winter school

Obviously, your planning largely hinges on where you intend to spend your time abroad. Decisive factors when deciding where to go are language skills, partnerships with FAU, the safety of the country in question and your own personal interest in the culture of the host country. The best place to find out which exchange programmes there are and whether your preferred destination is included is your department or faculty. Not every partner university is available for all areas of study. A number of university collaborations, for example in the Erasmus programme, are arranged at departmental level. All students can apply for the direct exchange programmes available to students throughout the University. Decentralised direct exchange opportunities arranged by the individual faculties are only published on the websites of the respective institutions. All exchanges are also available on our world map.

If you would like to study at a particular university which does not have a partnership with FAU, you can approach the foreign university directly and enquire whether it would be possible to study there as a free mover.

The success of a stay abroad also depends on the practical aspects and local conditions. Which courses are offered at the host university? Can I have the credits I gain abroad transferred to FAU? Can I coordinate the different semester periods with my studies at FAU? Do I have sufficient proficiency in the language spoken in the country to cope with studying there?

That apart, you also have to meet the requirements expected of you by your host institution and FAU: Do you have to complete a minimum period of study before you can go abroad? Am I sufficiently proficient in the language? Do I have the necessary subject knowledge?

There are a number of different ways to fund your time abroad. Some exchange programmes are automatically linked to funding, for others you can apply for a scholarship to cover travel expenses or the cost of living. Generally speaking, you should still make sure that you have sufficient financial backing even if you do have a scholarship, as scholarships are often only paid once you have actually started your time abroad.

Please make sure you have a clear idea of the opportunities available to you before you approach the relevant offices for a detailed consultation.

The five best tips for preparing a stay abroad

  • Start your initial planning 18 months in advance
  • Find out as much information as possible beforehand. Detailed information is available on the FAU websites about studying and work experience abroad.
  • Brush up your language skills in the language of the country. We recommend a level of at least B2 if you intend to study there.
  • Prepare for your host country. Information on various countries is available from DAAD
  • Check in advance whether and to what extent credits obtained abroad can be accredited towards your studies at FAU