Studying abroad in America was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It opened my mind to new passions, experiences, and ways of life which I didn’t know existed. I definitely would not have thought so deeply about Black British culture if I had not lived in a society which is so saturated by race related problems. However, if I was to advice someone who is thinking about doing a year abroad now, I would recommend Europe.
1) Finances: British students are able to get away from thousands of pounds worth of debt and get the same quality of education in most other European countries. And as if it couldn’t get any better, programmes such as Erasmus offer various scholarships and funding to help students with living maintenance and flight costs. A masters programme which I plan to pursue at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark is completely free of cost, plus includes a field trip to a developing country, and the opportunity to go on an international exchange to one of their partner universities for a semester.
2) Travel: Studying in Europe also allows for greater travel opportunities due to it being mainland, meaning it is possible to drive across borders, whereas England is an island which is quite removed from the rest of Europe. Consequently, it is possible to travel and experiences a range of cultures quite easily. Also, there are a range of programmes in Europe which include a semester abroad, internships, and field work in developing countries, so it is highly unlikely that you will only experience one culture.
3) Employment: being in a different country automatically broadens your cultural awareness, making you a more well rounded and flexible person (which employers love), but even more so, being in a different country forces you to pick up bits of a new language. The best way to learn a language is by being in the country of the language you are trying to learn as you are immersing yourself in their media, day to day conversations, road signs etc so you are bound to pick up a bit. Also, most university will offer free classes to develop your language skills further, no matter what level you are at. The workforce is becoming increasingly globalized, so if you are looking or a job within the private sector, having some scope on a second language and being used to different cultures will be perceived as highly valuable to employers.
4) Distance: Although I loved America, the distance was extremely difficult for me and clouded my mood throughout the whole of my first semester. Being away from family and friends, missing out on events back home, or even doing long distance is all very depressing. Studying in Europe would cut down on the time difference, making it easier to speak to people back home. It would also let you travel back more often due to the length and price of the flight, plus your friends and family are more likely to be able to afford to come out, even just for a weekend.
5) The ease: visas, luggage, travel insurance etc is all a lot easier as a European travelling within Europe. There aren’t as many formalities as when you relocate to a different continent.
So I would strongly encourage anyone thinking of pursuing a masters to consider going abroad to Europe, especially while we are still part of the EU.
By Priscilla McGregor-Kerr
Twitter & Insta: @cillahope_