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5 Reasons to Consider Graduate School in Europe

5 Reasons to Consider Graduate School in Europe

Have you ever thought about going to graduate school, but decided against it because $40k is too much money to spend on a master’s in representations of dragons in medieval Italian literature?

Or maybe you’ve imagined going to live in Europe for a few months, but it seemed too complicated to find a job that would sponsor your visa.

Whether you’re not ready to jump into the 9-5 “real world,” want to live abroad, or just want to get an education for less money, there are lots of reasons to consider graduate school abroad.

Here are five reasons to consider getting your master’s degree in Europe:

1. Save thousands of dollars on tuition.

The average cost of a master’s degree from a public university in the United States is $28,000, and at a private university, it’s more like $38,000. That’s a lot of money.

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And while student loans are available for accredited degree programs, the result is often compounding your student debt from your undergraduate education and taking years to pay it off.

In the rest of the world, though, education is generally taxpayer-funded and a lot cheaper. While foreign students may pay a premium on an undergraduate or graduate degree in a foreign country compared to local students, a year’s tuition costs nowhere near five figures.

In France, for example, tuition for one year of a master’s program costs €462 – and that includes a year of student health insurance.

Of course, there are downsides to the low price tag, like bigger classes and less-modern facilities. And while any university in the world can apply to be eligible for federal financial aid using a FAFSA ID number, few universities outside of English-speaking countries have completed the paperwork. This means that you won’t be able to get a subsidized student loan for your education abroad or defer your student loans while in school.

If you’re saving 95% on the cost of a degree, though, it may be worth it to try and make it work.

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2. Perfect your language skills.

With the creation of the European Credits Transfer System (ECTS) that allows students to easily transfer coursework between European institutions, and the opening of the European Economic Space, it’s gotten easier for European students to study outside of their home countries, and universities have adapted to an influx of foreign students.

You may be surprised to know that you don’t need to speak a language fluently in order to enroll directly in a foreign university. Most European schools require a B1 or B2 level – low to upper intermediate – in order to enroll directly without intensive language classes. That means that unlike American study abroad programs, which typically have you take one or two classes in the local university while spending all of your time taking classes in their program with other Americans, you get to jump right in to classes with local and international students.

You may have the option of taking an intensive language class before the semester begins, but even if you don’t, you’ll get a lot out of being forced to communicate in language for everything from the enrollment procedure to discussing homework with your fellow students.

3. Travel.

Living in another part of the world to study can also be a great opportunity to travel and explore other places, both as an expat living in a new country and as a tourist, passing through for a few days.

Whether you prefer overnight trains, carpooling, or discount airlines there are lots of ways to travel cheaply, especially in Europe, where students and anyone under 30 often get great discounts.

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With a university calendar comes generous vacation time, and it’ll be expected that you use some of it to see the sites in your host country and the surrounding areas.

In France, university students have seven to eight weeks of vacation during the academic year – a week or two every six weeks – plus half a dozen holidays that always get turned into long weekends.

Plus, if you make friends with other international students in your classes or in your dorm, you may even get invited to stay with your friends in their home cities – a great way to get to know a country and a culture from the inside.

4. Gain international work experience.

In most European countries, foreign students with a student visa have the right to work part time to help pay rent and cover their bills, so it’s likely that you’ll want to find a job or internship during your year abroad. Students in France, for example, can work up to 964 hours per year, which works out to about 20 hours per week.

Not only does this mean you won’t have to take on debt to pay your bills (most European students are self-sufficient, even if some of them live at home during their studies), it also means you’ll have a great opportunity to work on your resume while abroad.

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Whether you try your hand at teaching English, land a job as an English-speaking tour guide, or get an internship working at a bank, international work experience and using two or more languages fluently in the workplace will show you’re a great asset to a future employer in any country. No matter whether you return to the US after getting your degree, stay in your host country, or move to a new place entirely, your ability to navigate the business world in two languages and cultures will give you an advantage at any company that wants to develop internationally.

5. Use generous student discounts.

In the US, many companies consider that students are rich, since parents and loan companies are often footing the bill for education and padding students’ pockets, at least temporarily.

Not so elsewhere in the world.

In Europe, everyone knows that students have no money, and social and business policies cater to students by providing steep discounts. The idea is that students who appreciate the discounts during college will continue using the same companies once they’re older and earning a regular salary.

Student discounts are available on everything from monthly transportation passes to movie tickets, free entrance to museums and even sandwiches at the corner bakery at lunchtime.

While the nature of student discounts obviously varies according to place and age, you can expect to get about half off what a “normal” salaried person would pay on most necessities.

Bonus reason: It’s an adventure.

Your twenties are a great time to explore the world and live abroad, and to do things you can’t do as easily once you have a family and a mortgage. Enrolling in a master’s program overseas is a fun, inexpensive way to see the world and experience a new culture while you’re still young.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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