Are you interested in studying in another country? Have questions about how to apply? Worried about applying as an international student? Fear not—in this EDUopinions article we will discuss how to write a perfect motivation letter for studies abroad. Even better, there are only five steps you need to follow. Keep reading to find out!
What is a motivation letter?
First things first, a motivation letter is a fairly common component of many types of applications. Essentially, it is a way for whoever assesses your application to understand why you are applying to the programme/position, why you are qualified and what you aim to get out of the experience. A common mistake in writing motivation letters is being overly lengthy and overly personal. This is not to say that your motivation should lack details; rather, you should aim to be as specific and concise as possible in your motivation letter.
How different is a motivation letter for studies abroad?
As mentioned above, motivation letters are used for job applications as well as university applications, and in each country, there are slightly different expectations of what should be included in one. A motivation letter for studies abroad should aim to demonstrate the above points in addition to why you are interested in studying in another country and how you are prepared to do so. International students are expected to include these extra details, making their application process a bit more involved, but by no means impossible. Take a look at the Erasmus application for an example of what to expect.
EDUopinions’ 5 tips for a motivation letter for studies abroad:
First, your motivation letter for studies abroad should start with you introducing yourself. This introduction should include basic information like your current occupation/degree and where you are from. In addition, you should clearly state the programme you are applying for and what motivated you to apply. The introduction does not have to begin with a ‘hook’ but it should formally and clearly tell the admissions officer who you are, what you are applying for and why.
Demonstrating your qualifications
Another essential component of a motivation letter for studies abroad is clearly explaining how you are prepared to take on the challenge of studying in another country. What sort of language and culture classes have you taken? Why is the programme you are applying to the right one for you? Most likely, you will have to submit your transcript and resumé or CV, so be sure to emphasise qualifications not included in those documents. Try to succinctly and convincingly explain how well prepared you are for studies abroad.
Mentioning your previous international experiences
In addition to sharing your academic, work and/or volunteer experiences, your motivation letter for studies abroad should include any previous international experiences you have had. These do not necessarily have to be formal academic programmes but could experience travelling with family or friends. The most important thing about this step is to let the person who reads your application know that you understand what you are getting yourself into. Of course, many people may not have had an international experience yet, and that is totally fine. If that is the case for you, then use this opportunity to explain your motivations for going abroad.
Describing your personality
Next, it can be helpful to briefly describe your personality in your motivation letter for studies abroad. Now, this does not mean you should list all of your personal characteristics, like/dislikes or favourite TV shows. Instead, you should explain how your personality is well-suited to being in an international context. For example, if you are a person who makes friends quickly, you could say something along the lines of, “I consider myself an open-minded and friendly person, which has helped me make friends quickly in many different situations.” Notice how this type of writing incorporates adjectives to specifically describe a person’s personality. Doing so will help whoever reads your application get a clear idea of the person you are.
Explaining how studying abroad will help you grow
Finally, and maybe most importantly, any good motivation letter for studies abroad should explain what you aim to get out of the programme. International exchanges and study abroad programmes are designed to help students learn about a different culture, language, society and way of living. Admissions officers want to know that you plan to make the most of your international experience and that you set goals to help yourself grow along the way. Maybe you want to perfect your foreign language skills; maybe you want to learn about another culture’s approach to education; or maybe you are keen on experiencing the culinary traditions of another country. Whatever your hopes and goals are, your motivation letter is the perfect place to write about them.
Conclusion about writing a motivation letter for studies abroad
Whether you are currently applying to study abroad or still learning about the process, we hope this article has been helpful. Writing a motivation letter for studies abroad is a very important part of the application, which is why we at EDUopinions wrote about these five simple steps. If you have any questions about applying to studies abroad, then feel free to reach out to EDUopinions’ free, individual student advisors for help along the way!
Editor’s note: This article was first published on the 6th of July 2021. We’ve updated it for current readers.