Stays abroad for students of English:
general information

Do I need to go abroad?

If you are planning to become a teacher, then yes - 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.

However, it is not compulsory for students who do not intend to become teachers to complete a stay abroad.

Nonetheless, 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.

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.

Can I combine different options?

Yes. It is possible to combine different options (language course; internship; multiple jobs) as long as they take place consecutively, without a break in between involving travel to a non-English speaking country. (A brief holiday such as a week in New Zealand between two internships in Australia is acceptable.)

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. Dubai is normally acceptable, but please check in advance.

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.

However:

  • 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 abroad (general)?

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 (semester four, the summer between semesters four and five, or semester five in particular) or the time immediately after the completion of the first degree. (A popular option is to go abroad for a period of six months to a year between the BA and MEd degrees.)

Given the early application deadlines for most exchange programms, semester five is the best option 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, although this can work in years when the Oldenburg semester finishes in late January, and is a good option for Australia and South Africa due to the different academic year in the southern hemisphere! 

In your planning, you should also keep the scheduling of compulsory internships (Orientierungspraktikum/ASP/FP/FEP/Praxissemester) in mind. If you are abroad in September it is frequently possible to complete a compulsory internship in January instead - contact the DIZ for further information.

When should I go abroad (MEd G/H/R)?

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.

Moreover, if you intend to study abroad, there are very few Anglistik master modules for which you can gain credit, and for Bafög recipients, there is the additional problem that it is extremely difficult to find an overseas university which accepts visiting Masters students.

Note that you can only begin the MEd (G/H/R) degree in the winter, so if you submit your BA thesis in September and then want to go abroad until Christmas, you could have up to nine months of "dead time" after you get back. This is an excellent reason to go abroad for a longer period at this stage, for example via the assistant teacher programme.

When should I go abroad (MEd Gym/MEd WiPäd/MEd SoPäd)?

Students studying for the degrees M.Ed. (Gym) and M.Ed (WiPäd) have quite a lot of flexibility in terms of timing their stay abroad, as there are suitable mobility windows in both the bachelor's and master's degrees (and indeed, between the two!) to go abroad. M.Ed. (Sonderpädagogik) students may generally find it easier to complete their stay abroad during their master's degree due to course scheduling in that subject. (SoPäd students who receive BAFöG and wish to study abroad should keep the issues listed below in mind.

However, if you want to study abroad, then please note the following issues:

  • Not every overseas university accepts Masters students as visitors or on exchange - check this well in advance! This applies to both partner universities and direct applications.
  • If you receive BAFöG, then you should really try to study abroad during your bachelor's degree if at all possible, as there are very few international universities that will allow you to be enrolled as Masters students, and this is a requirement to receive Auslands-BAFöG at all. As this can be extremely difficult to arrange, if you are contemplating this option, please look into it well in advance.
  • That said, a seventh bachelor semester or a first MEd Gym/WiPäd semester can also be a good opportunity for students to study abroad, particularly if you do not receive BAföG - it is possible to complete many of the required MEd courses in Anglistik in one semester.
  • Additionally, M.Ed. WiPäd and SoPäd students - who normally complete the Aufbaumodule as part of the M.Ed. degree - may be able to complete these early if studying abroad as an undergraduate student.

When and how should I prepare?

See here for points to consider for general planning purposes, and here for some of the everyday challenges in going abroad that it is also worth keeping in mind.

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.

Follow this link for information about funding for both studying and work placements abroad.

What if I can't go abroad?

Generally speaking, you need to complete the stay abroad to graduate as a teacher in Lower Saxony. However, if there are good reasons (family responsibilities, health etc) why you cannot go abroad for twelve weeks, then it is possible to apply for special consideration - see here for further information.

How do I get credit for my time abroad?

See here for an explanation of the credit transfer procedure for returning students.

Who can I talk to?

For more specific assistance AFTER YOU HAVE LOOKED CAREFULLY AT THIS WEBSITE, please contact the following members of staff:

Study Abroad

Christa Weers (Erasmus), Tina Grummel (North America) and Roman Behrens (outside Europe/NA) at the ISO.

Working Abroad

Staff in in the Career Service.

Erasmus+ and free mover applications (Europe)

Contact the ISO in the first instance; to apply and for advice on direct applications for the UK and Ireland, contact Lauren Freede.

Credit Transfer

Please attempt to arrange this via one of the Blocktermine if at all possible!

  • Literature and Cultural Studies - Dr. Anna Auguscik
  • Linguistics and Language Science - Dr. Ilka Flöck
  • Didactics - Dr. Joanna Pfingsthorn
  • Sprachpraxis - Lauren Freede
  • Compulsory school internships – either the DIZ or Dr. Sylke Bakker

Signatures

  • AuslandsBAföG - Dr. Joanna Pfingsthorn (as of 01.08.18; Lauren Freede until 31.07.2018 and afterwards only as Dr. Pfingsthorn's substitute)
  • Erasmus+ internship applications - Lauren Freede
  • PROMOS; Fernweh- & Mobilitätszuschuss - Dr. Joanna Pfingsthorn or Lauren Freede

Other

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 or contact the Career Service.

My question isn't answered here!

For other common issues, please read the frequently asked questions.

Otherwise, this website really does contain all the background information you need about the compulsory stay abroad for students of British and American Studies at the University of Oldenburg. Read through it carefully before you contact other members of staff - we will send you away to read the website if it's clear you haven't looked and will not answer questions along the lines of "I need to go abroad - what can I do?"