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Life After School Advice (Part Two): University & Study Abroad

Welcome to the second instalment of my four part, ‘Life After School Advice’ series. This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while and have collaborated with some of my close friends in order to do it. My friends and I all took slightly different paths after we graduated from high school, so this series is a way to shed light on the different things you can do after school and what it might be like, from people who have experienced it.

We are by no means experts, but we are going by our own experiences. My hope is that this series will help people who are just about to leave school and are still unsure about what they want to do. Or anyone else who is just in general, stuck in a bit of a rut. If you haven’t read part one about work and travel you can do so HERE. So now, without further ado, here’s part two.

Part Two: University & Studying Abroad

Me at the top of the Cardiff Castle Keep.

Me at the top of the Cardiff Castle Keep.

You all know me, Anya. I’m currently studying in  my final year of university, majoring in journalism. Last year I went to study abroad in Cardiff, Wales for one semester, which was absolutely incredible. Moana helped me out, by interviewing me for this instalment, thanks Moana! 

Moana: When did you graduate from high school?

Anya: I graduated in November 2012.

What did you do after high school?

A: I went straight to university to study a Bachelor of Communication Studies at AUT. So, I did one year of that and then half way through my second year I went on a study abroad for four months. I came back in February of this year [2015] and I’m currently doing my final year.

Why did you choose to take this path after high school?

A: For me, university was always something that I wanted to do straight after school. I did have quite a clear idea from Year 12, of what I wanted to do. I was really interested in biological anthropology and film studies, but then towards the end of my final year of high school, I got offered a scholarship to go to AUT to do a different course. At the time, that had been my plan B, so I was going to do that if I didn’t get into my course for anthropology.

So I got into both, but because I had the scholarship I thought, well, I think I might actually look more into the Communication Studies degree and I did, and I realised that actually, it looked really really interesting and I felt like it would be something that I’d quite enjoy. So that’s what I ended up doing, and I’m really glad that I did it.

My study abroad flatmates in Cardiff.

My study abroad flatmates in Cardiff.

What do you think have been the advantages of the path that you’ve taken?

A: Well, I’ve always wanted to travel. And so, even though I wanted to go to university straight away, also in the back of my mind I was like, “uhm I really want to travel as well, how am I going to fit that in?”. And then, doing a bit of research, I saw that a lot of the universities did exchange programmes and study abroad programmes and I was like, well actually, I could kind of kill two birds with one stone.

I started planning my study abroad before I even started university. So, I was really planning ahead, I was really really keen, I had my eyes set on doing a study abroad and I feel like the advantages of doing that was that I got to do two of the things I really wanted to do, at the same time. I feel like it was the right choice for me.

Have there been any disadvantages? 

A: For me, I don’t think there were any disadvantages, but I feel like there could be disadvantages for people doing something similar. Just because, I had no idea whether my degree would be the right one for me. I guess you can never completely know, luckily for me, it’s turned out great. But there was the possibility that it could’ve been the wrong thing for me to do.

So I think that the disadvantage of going straight to uni is that, unless you really know that it’s something that you’re quite passionate about or really want to study about, you could end up having three or four years of absolute hell and then ending up in debt. So that’s a disadvantage.

You know, sometimes when you just come out of high school you haven’t really gone out into the world and experienced things, so in a few years time, your mind could change, but that’s life, your mind always changes.

If you could change anything, would you?

A: No, I don’t think I would change anything really. I mean, I love my degree, being able to do the study abroad was something that I think contributed to me enjoying my degree. Not just because I got to go overseas, but because going overseas and studying similar papers to what I’m doing at home, but in a different culture, from a different perspective has made me even more engaged in what I am studying. So I’ve come back, and I am even more passionate about what I’m studying, which has been really great. So I don’t think I would change anything.

At the Roman Baths in Bath, England.

At the Roman Baths in Bath, England.

So what are your plans for the future? 

A: For this year I am just wanting to finish my degree, graduate and look for full-time work, hopefully in the industry that I’ve been studying, so in journalism. At the same time, I’ve caught the travel bug since going overseas, so I do really really want to do some more travelling, probably not another big seven month trip like last time, unless I won the lotto.

I would like to work overseas as well. Probably in the UK. I really enjoyed living in the UK, so I’d love to go back and live and work there for a few years.

What advice do you have for people who are just about to leave high school, or who are unsure about what they want to do?

A: Trust your instincts. I think there’s a lot of pressure from high schools and just society really, that you have to go to university, which I don’t think is true. Obviously there are some things that you need to go to university for, like if you wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer. But I think that work experience is definitely important as well and university isn’t something that you have to do straight after you’ve left school. You can go back when you’re older, sometimes you just need a bit of life experience before you can figure out what you want to do.

If there is something that you’re really passionate about, go for it. You know you may end up hating it, but you can always change course and even though it costs money, if you find something that you really enjoy, then it’s worth it. Do what you think is right for you, and if you change your mind then that’s fine too. You’ll never know if you never try.

If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or send an email to with the subject title: Life After School Advice-Anya.

Thank you so much for reading! Keep an eye out for the next two instalments, where I talk to two others, one about going straight to university and one about working and starting your own business. 


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