Stays abroad for students of English:
Do I need to go abroad?
It is strongly recommended that all students of English complement their studies with a stay abroad in an English-speaking country, where possible for a year. You will profit from this period on many different levels – an improvement in your language skills is only one of the benefits.
From experience we can say that such a stay abroad makes a major difference in the development of a wide-ranging and sophisticated understanding of the language, culture and society in the country visited, as well as contributing to subsequent academic success to an extent that cannot be overestimated.
If you are planning to become a teacher, you will have to go abroad to a country where English is the official language or the main language spoken for at least three months (twelve weeks) before registering to submit your Master thesis.
What can I do?
Please check the official criteria for an officially-recognised stay abroad for further information. You may choose to work or study – it’s up to you.
Periods of study can involve one of Oldenburg's partner universities or an independent application as a "Free Mover". Advanced language courses are also acceptable as long as they are at an advanced (C1+ level).
Any job or internship needs to be 'relevant for your course of studies'. This can be interpreted fairly broadly, so your time abroad does not have to involve working in a school or with young people, though these are obviously popular options!
You may take part in an organised programme such as the PAD's Assistant Teacher Programme (there are also companies which arrange interships abroad) or you can find a placement yourself. Apart from at a school or kindergarten, you can work in business, in tourism, as a volunteer with organizations like the National Trust in Britain, as a volunteer with faith-based organisiations, with elderly people or people with disabilities, or at a summer camp or holiday programme for teenagers, or...
(For jobs working with *animals* such as wildlife work in South Africa, you need to ensure sufficient contact to native speakers of English or at the very least, non-German speaking coordinators.)
Some further exclusions and limitations are discussed in the frequently asked questions section.
Where can I go?
The obvious options include the United States, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India. Other less obvious but equally acceptable destinations are Singapore, Malta, Caribbean countries with English as an official language, English-speaking islands in the South Pacific (avoid former French colonies) and a number of countries in Africa including Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.
This list of countries is fairly complete as a starting point.
Countries such as Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Spain, Argentina, Japan and so on are NOT classified as English-speaking and time in these countries will not count towards the compulsory stay abroad, even if you studied in English.
- You can get credit for individual courses completed in English at non-Anglophone universities, though the stay abroad itself does not count.
- Students who are not planning to become teachers can take advantage of English-language opportunities beyond the Anglophone world - the university has a number of interesting exchange partnerships that it is worth considering.
When should I go?
If you're planning to be a teacher, you need to have completed your stay abroad before submitting your M.Ed. thesis. This seems a long way away when you first start studying, but it can take time to find a suitable opportunity or to apply for exchange and teaching programmes.
It is important to note that students are usually 'beurlaubt' during their stay abroad, and thus do not lose any time completing the degree. According to the Prüfungsordnung, 'der studienrelevante Auslandsaufenthalt ist kein Bestandteil der Regelstudienzeit.'
Generally speaking, the most convenient point for a period spent studying abroad in an English-speaking country is either the middle semesters of the bachelor degree (semesters three, four and five) or the time immediately after the completion of the first degree.
(Semesters three or five are the best options for commencing a period of study abroad - due to overlapping semesters it is rarely practical to start university in the summer semester in other countries! Given the early application deadlines for most exchange programms, semester five is the most realistic option.)
If you are planning to become a teacher in primary or lower secondary schools (M.Ed. Grund-, Haupt- und Realschule), it is strongly recommended that you complete this stay abroad during or immediately after the bachelor degree. The timing of the Praxissemester (February-June) and the scheduling of compulsory modules makes spending time abroad during the masters programme extremely difficult. If you intend to study abroad, there are also very few master modules for which you can gain credit.
Students studying for the degrees M.Ed. (Gym) and M.Ed (WiPäd) generally have enough time to complete their stay abroad during their course of studies; however, if you receive BAFöG and wish to study abroad, then you should also try to go during your first degree if at all possible.
Sonderpädagogik students may find it easier to complete their stay abroad during their master's degree due to course scheduling in that subject. However, if you receive BAFöG and wish to study abroad, then you should also try to go during your first degree if at all possible.
When and how should I prepare?
Thorough planning (gathering general information about a country and university and translating transcripts; obtaining references; and completing application forms) should commence at least a year in advance, for example after the second semester in Oldenburg. As a general rule, you should start preparing in late September/October of the year before you plan to head abroad - the general planning guidelines are a good place to start.
While the departmental study abroad advisors and advisors in the ISO and Career Service are happy to help you with more complex questions, you should make sure you read the general background information about the stay abroad BEFORE coming to see an advisor. Answers to questions like "I have to go abroad – what can I do?" can be found on this website!
How can I pay for my time abroad?
It is true that going abroad can be an expensive undertaking and presents a financial challenge for many students. However, there are a number of sources of financial support which can lower the costs.
Once you have decided whether you want to spend your time abroad in Europe or outside Europe, and whether you want to study, volunteer, do an internship, or something else entirely, you can consider the different options for financing your stay. Which one is right for you depends on where you want to go and what you want to do, as well as what you are eligible for.
See here for the different funding options if you are interested in attending a university abroad.
Follow this link for information about funding for work placements abroad.
What else do I need to keep in mind?
Issues to Consider
In the early stages of planning a stay abroad, you need to ask yourself the following questions.
- What do you want to do? Would you prefer to study abroad, or are you more interested in working/doing an internship?
- How long do you plan to spend abroad? A semester? A year? Only twelve weeks? (eg. If you want to do a short school internship, you will have to find it yourself – the assistant teacher programme only sends students for a full academic year.)
- When are you able to go abroad? Are you prepared to be ‘beurlaubt’? in Oldenburg? Can you only go during the semester break? Are you studying a degree programme that can only be started in the winter semester (eg. GHR 300?) Are their other scheduling issues to keep in mind (eg. ASP in September, FP/FEP in February?)
- Where do you want to go? Does this match your timeframe? (eg. You can’t do a school internship for three months in Britain in summer – it’s the school holidays! However, this would be an option in Australia/New Zealand, where it is winter then.)
- If you are planning to study abroad, what are your interests? Which Oldenburg modules have you completed/do you still need to complete? (Some universities do not offer linguistics, for example.) Do you want to get credit for the courses from the overseas university? Would you also like to do courses in your second subject? (Only possible at certain partner universities or as a direct applicant.)
- If you are planning to study abroad, can you get credit for courses? MEd GHR students only have one module for which credit is possible - studying as a bachelor students therefore makes more sense. On the other hand, MEd SoPäd and WiPäd students have all the Aufbaumodule to complete - study abroad as a Masters students (or doing these modules early) can be a very effective strategy!
- How is your second subject organised? Are their courses that can only be taken in a particular semester? Will this affect the timing of a stay abroad? (For example, experience suggests that Sonderpädagogik students may find it easier to complete their stay abroad during their master's degree due to course scheduling in that subject.)
- Do you receive BAföG? (This has an impact on study abroad options in particular.)
How do I get credit for my time abroad?
See here for an explanation of the credit transfer procedure for returning students.
Where can I find out more?
This website contains all the background information you need about the compulsory stay abroad for students of British and American Studies at the University of Oldenburg.
For more specific assistance, please contact the following members of staff:
Lauren Freede or Johanna Hasanen, preferably in their office hours! Check Stud.IP for further details.
Christa Weers (Erasmus), Tina Grummel (North America) and Roman Behrens (outside Europe/NA) at the ISO.
Staff in in the Career Service.
Linguistics and Didactics - Vera Freytag
Literary and Cultural Studies - Michaela Koch
Language Practice (Sprachpraxis)/general information - Lauren Freede
Compulsory school internships - Sylke Bakker
For a signature for an Erasmus+ or PROMOS internship scholarship, please contact Lauren Freede. For BAFöG applications for internship funding, the contact person in the Institut is currently Vera Freytag.
For help with writing statements of motivation, applications, CVs and other materials, please look out for the workshops run as part of the English Language Help Centre.