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Robert Ebenburger

BA Politics and International Studies (2018)

Even though it probably seems quite far away to you as a prospective student, for me studying abroad was the single most impactful experience of my undergraduate career. It was a superbly enjoyable time, and quite game-changing indeed. Whilst at this point you don’t have to seriously think about this topic, it’s good to know what opportunities are available and, generally, how study abroad works.

The PAIS department offers a variety of exchange destinations through two programmes. In my first year, I applied for an integrated year in Canada; “integrated” means that the grades you get at your host university count towards your degree, just like your grades at Warwick would. At the time, my application wasn’t successful. That felt like a big setback to me, but I came to appreciate it later on.

In my second year, which I then spent the normal way at Warwick, I applied to the department’s intercalated exchange programme. “Intercalated” means that you take a year out at Warwick, the grades from your host university do not count, and you add a year to your degree. This is where things got exciting for me: although I’d originally planned to study abroad in France, my backup application to Waseda University in Tokyo was successful, too.

As Japan eventually seemed like a much more exciting destination than France, I soon found myself headed there – without any pre-existing language skills or cultural knowledge, that is. I was nevertheless determined to do my best at cultural and social integration, so I studied Japanese, joined clubs and activities, and made friends. In short, I had an absolutely superb time!

I’m now in my final year back at Warwick. Although I’d had no interest in Japan whatsoever before the study abroad, I’m now conversationally fluent in Japanese, have a network of friends in Tokyo, and will be doing an internship there after graduation. I guess my experience shows that study abroad is very much about living life, about excitement and the unforeseen. For now, keep this opportunity in mind, and when the time comes, be adventurous!