Europe with its different cultures and languages can offer you an educational experience you will not get when you stay in your home country. Immersed in a new culture you will learn new values, and norms. The harmonization of the educational sector among European countries means that you can freely travel between universities. Finally, when studying in Europe you can combine international experience with free and high-quality education.
I have the advantage of always having lived abroad, a typical third-culture kid, considering the world my limit. When I started studying universities were just completing the transition from their old national system to a unified European system of tertiary education. This meant, that no matter where in Europe I would get my degree, it would be valid, no matter where in Europe I wanted to work. You might not be a third-culture kid, but this doesn’t mean that your choice of University needs to be limited by national borders. There is really no reason (except family) to stay in your home country.
Studying abroad to get to know you
There is one single reason for you to study in a different country: To get immersed in a different culture and through this get to know you better. Studying abroad provides you with the unique opportunity to be confronted with different ways of working and living that you have no other choice than to reflect on who you are and who you want to be. Studying in Europe has the advantage of presenting you in a very small geographic area with many different cultures. For example by studying at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels, you are immersed in the Flemish culture. Over time you will learn how Flemish people are different to their French speaking fellow citizens, the Walloons. You’ll also learn the subtle differences between the Flemish and Dutch, while they share the same languages and name their universities using the same formula (e.g., Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), they are culturally different. By picking up all these small differences you will grow and get to know who you are. And this is important for making the right career decisions.
Getting (nearly) free first-class education
Many European countries do not charge anything for attending university while maintaining high quality standards. This means you can study in Europe without building up a huge mountain of debt. For example, Germany experimented with charging tuition fees by asking so-called “Langzeit Studenten” (Longtime students) to pay €200 per semester. But that got scrapped. Now you’ll have to pay a couple of hundreds of euros for administration. Other countries, like the Netherlands ask students to pay around €2000 per year. However, there are means to get the money back from the state. You should know that tuition cost in the Netherlands depends on your nationality, but students from European countries are treated the same. This principle of equal treatments of European citizens also exists in other European countries.
The language of instruction
Many universities in Europe offer their degrees in English. This is especially the case for business schools. The advantage is that the barrier to learning is very low, you do not have to struggle with new vocabulary. However, this can also make integration in the local community more difficult. If your degree isn’t offered in English, or not fully, or there is this one course that you like to take, but it is offered in a language that you can’t speak, this is the perfect opportunity to learn the language. Learning something new requires motivation, and to be motivated it needs to be relevant. Learning a language so that you can study in Europe is a great source of motivation. In addition, immersion in a culture makes it easier to pick up the language. In short, language barriers shouldn’t stop you from studying in Europe.
Go to the east
Taking Germany as an example, there is still the image that “the west is best”. But there are many reasons to consider studying in European countries that belonged to the east, communist bloc. One of them is related to this outdated picture: As it is less attractive, less students are there, which means the academic staff to student ratio is better. This means you can get a better education, leading to better job performance. Also, in most central and eastern European countries the cost of living is lower than in other European countries. You will not have to live off ramen and instant soup. Finally, some of the world’s best scholars teach at universities in the former communist bloc.
If this still doesn’t sound convincing, consider these reasons:
- Joint Master Degrees with scholarships. Two degrees for the price of one.
- Nearly all European countries are a great hub for travelling. If in doubt, pick a central location, such as Maastricht University, Mannheim Business School, ETH Zürich, Bocconi University.
- Visit very old historical places in Italy, Greece, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, or any other European country. At the end of the day, this is the “old continent”.
- You can ask the European Commission for a scholarship so that you can study abroad while being abroad.
Have you studied in Europe? Whereabout? How did you experience it? Would you pick the same country again, or go to a different destination? Head over to EDUopinions and leave a review about your experience.