University and Study Abroad Q&A

Today was my graduation ceremony (in Brighton which I didn’t attend as I’ve been back in the U.S.) and the final hurrah in my education and study abroad part of my life. Time to change my blog tagline, I suppose!

In lieu of attending my graduation ceremony, I’ve decided to answer the top five common questions  I’ve been asked about university and study abroad and feed your curiosity about my life these last five years.

A quick bit of background: I’ve just finished my Masters of Research degree in conservation biology at the University of Sussex. For my undergraduate degree, I studied at conservation biology at  Arizona Sate University with my third year (2015-2016) abroad at the University of Sussex. I began in August 2013 and finished in May 2017.

University Q&A

How did you decide what to study?

In this post I recounted a more detailed journey of how I landed on conservation, but long story short, it started with my high school environmental science class and love for animals and the ocean.

Did you work?

Yes, with the exception of my very first semester and my year abroad. In my undergraduate, I worked two theater jobs as an usher and in my Master’s degree I worked as a barmaid and carer. The theater jobs were especially nice with only working evenings and weekends and working with fellow students.


How do you make friends?

Everybody is wondering this, so it’s really hard to make an arse of yourself when everybody as is desperate as you! To be honest, my best friend (Nolan) and I met by pure luck: at the Life Science orientation, I told myself to make one friend and introduced myself to the guy next to me. It just so happened we were in the same class block and lived on the same floor in the halls. Needless to say, we were good friends all through university and remain in touch today. I made my other friends through classes and clubs. The hardest part about making friends is that very first icebreaker, the rest comes easy!

What is one thing you would have done differently?

Joined clubs earlier. They are a great way to gain experience, usually require little of your time, and look great on CVs.

What do you want to do?

My aspirations are still largely up in the air, but I have a few ideas outlined in this post. Positions with field work, animal rehabilitation and community outreach interest me the most.

Study Abroad Q&A

How much does study abroad cost?

It depends on your program. I chose to do an exchange program where I pay my usual tuition to go to an international university for a year. Housing, eating and personal care costs were about the same as they were in the U.S., but things like nights out and trips were the outliers, and these can cost as little (or as much) as you can manage.

How did you choose your program?

I was quite restricted with universities in the U.K. that offered good programs for conservation. I looked at a few universities and decided I liked Sussex best for its program, location (close to London and airports) and town life.


Where did you travel to?

Dublin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Milan, Nice, Monaco, Prague, Paris, around Germany, Budapest, around Italy, around the United Kingdom (first term, second term). Please bear with me as I update these posts with pictures.

How did you use your phone?

I’m surprised how concerned people are about this. I unlocked my phone (ask your provider how to do so but it usually involves paying it off) and got a U.K. SIM card (can be easily replaced in iPhones with an earring) once I arrived and did a pay-as-you-go plan. I paid £10 a month for 500 minutes, unlimited text and 2GB of data, but there are a wide range of plans. I even saved my SIM card from my year abroad and used it for my Masters degree when I returned.

What is the biggest difference from the U.S.?

First, the university system is entirely different and focused more on independent work and application rather than memorization, there is a bigger casual drinking culture, which I’m fond of, the public transport is better and the people are more reserved.

I have made many posts on university and study abroad in the past, here are my top  favorite posts:

Do you have any other questions about university or studying abroad?

Photo by Marvin Meyer.



  1. bingingonabudget
    January 24, 2019 / 10:17 pm

    Thanks for sharing, if you had to pick a new place to study abroad where would it be?

    • rachelwuest
      January 29, 2019 / 5:58 pm

      Oooh, if I were to do it again I think I’d go to Australia! Explore a new part of the world and take some more courses focused on marine biology.

  2. January 30, 2019 / 11:36 pm

    I’ve never been to another country, but a lot of the study abroad programs at my college seemed so interesting! All of the differences from the US you listed sound great-I hated how most of my classes focused more on memorization instead of actually applying knowledge. Casual drinking and better public transportation also sound like positive changes!
    I made most of my friends in college through clubs, so it’s nice to know that that doesn’t really change abroad. What type of clubs did you join while you were there?

    Melissa //

    • rachelwuest
      January 31, 2019 / 2:18 am

      I didn’t join many clubs abroad, I made most of my friends in my classes, but in my undergraduate I was a School of Life Science ambassador and conservation biology club, it was great!

  3. Casey street
    February 7, 2019 / 6:18 pm

    As somebody looking to attend university, this post was so helpful to read! Thank you for sharing angel!
    Love Casey x

  4. February 15, 2019 / 10:02 am

    I really want to study a Masters of Research at Sussex! Waiting to finish my bachelors degree, which is taking ages (1 more year before I graduate) 🙃. I studied abroad in Germany during 2017 and it was an experience that I’ll always remember – overseas study is so rewarding and eye-opening! Thanks for sharing x

    Shannen |

    • rachelwuest
      February 15, 2019 / 6:00 pm

      Oh, wonderful! What course?

  5. February 15, 2019 / 9:36 pm

    I’m currently studying a modern history major, and would love to continue with a masters of research in contemporary history or something else related 😊

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