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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.

More by this author

Allison Lounes

Allison is the CEO & Founder at Paris Unraveled. She blogs about learning and studying.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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