The decision is made. You decided to study abroad in Europe, but you have no idea where to go and how to go about it? No worries, I have been there. There are some questions you should start with asking yourself. And then you can research all the options and get an idea of what is out there for you.
There will be a lot of research involved so be prepared. It might be scary at the beginning. I myself was absolutely convinced that whatever decision I make, it will somehow be not exactly correct and that I will get lost in the labyrinth of all the paperwork and deadlines. But if I did it, anyone can do it (I am the laziest person in the world when it comes to paperwork).
Where do I go to study abroad in Europe?
This one might be clear. Maybe you speak a particular language or know where you’ve always wanted to go. I went to the UK out of my love for the English language and culture.
But in case you don’t have it really clear, think about what you’d like to see when abroad. Also what is it that you’re looking for in your study abroad in Europe experience. The culture of Europe is very diverse and every country has a lot to offer.
Take into account such things as climate and weather, it will matter more than you can expect.
Do your research
Do research on the countries you are considering. Within Europe or South America, there are great differences between the countries when it comes to international students. Take your time to learn carefully about the conditions for each country and university you’re interested in.
Check the distance to you home and how often you would like to visit. Find out the important dates such as the start and finish of the academic year, the exam sessions and holidays. Then, check out the flight connections and the usual prices. You will want to go home and travel to different places during your degree.
Of course, you have to take your budget into account. Apart from tuition fees, you have to roughly calculate the living expenses and any additional expenses such as travel. Here’s my guide to the cost of studying in Europe.
From my experience, the estimated expenses you find on the pages of universities are exaggerated, but everything depends on your lifestyle and everyday choices. For example, I make travelling home every holidays a priority, but I tend to avoid buying clothes, so this one balances out for me.
In Europe, the cost of living may vary greatly depending on the country. Even if you can get a spot at Norwegian university for free, the living costs are bound to be very high. In Poland, Greece, Czech Republic or even Spain the living cost is much lower. So even if there are some fees to pay it will probably be balanced out by the low living costs.
In terms of budget it’s also important to know whether you willing to take up a part-time job while studying. The number of teaching hours may vary depending on the university and the country. Make sure it fits your plans or that you can plan around it.
You may speak the language of the country or not. It will make it more or less difficult to get certain jobs. It is not impossible to work if you don’t know the language though. Sometimes it is possible to land a job where only English is required, especially in countries where it is widely spoken such as Sweden, Finland, Denmark or Norway.
Do not get discouraged by high requirements for admission, but know your abilities. When I got my offers from the universities I applied to I thought it was impossible to meet the requirements. It was a matter of single points that I managed to get in to Glasgow. I did however have a safety net. I did apply to other unis both in the UK and in Poland.
The requirements have made me really anxious. Mostly about whether I would be able to manage the workload in a foreign language. But it turned out actually studying there and passing the exams was much easier than getting in.
Be prepared to having to work harder than your friends who stay home. It will be harder just because of the language, but do not get discouraged by small struggles. You will get used to the rhythm of studying there and the particularities of your university.
Know your strengths and weaknesses before going to study abroad in Europe
Try to really consider everything you are looking for in this experience and your own strengths and weaknesses. Going to study abroad and living on your own for the first time is a learning experience, but it might be a tough one.
You may want to study abroad in Europe mainly because you’re looking for high quality education and a competitive degree. Not all higly ranked universities are created equal though. Do your research of universities specifically according to the degree you’re looking for. A university may rank high for psychology, but not so for languages.
If you prefer lively surroundings, look for a city with interesting spots. If you prefer quiet and nature, go for a smaller city.
Know if studying abroad is good for the specific degree you’re interested in – law is an example of a degree specifically tied to the country, unless you chose European or International Law degree. Check whether and to what extent your degree transfers to your country, if the countries have an agreement, etc.
Going to study abroad in Europe will shape your future, no matter if you only move from one EU country to another or if you travel from overseas. Europe is a place easy for students to travel and experience a range of different cultures. I took that opportunity and I you should too 😉