So your semester abroad left you bitten by the travel bug, yearning for the day when you would return to the cobbled alleys of Prague, the grand boulevards of Paris, or the colorful Gaudi-infested streets of Barcelona. Perhaps you swore to yourself and your acquaintances that, after graduation, you would return to live permanently in Europe. But as the reality set in, upon returning to America, that oath may have seemed less and less practical. If you find yourself conflicted between this idealist notion of being an American expat, and the realities of relocating and establishing a career post-graduation, attending graduate school abroad may be the right path for you.
Trying Something New While You’re Young
If you studied abroad during your undergraduate years, you probably already understand that your international experiences are memories that will stay with you forever. However, the pressing urgency of visiting as many museums, piazzas, cathedrals, pubs, and gardens dissipates when you have more time to stay in Europe. I’m not suggesting you sign up for a graduate program just to take an extended vacation, but rather, pursue graduate school if you want the opportunity to earn an esteemed degree while meeting the new challenges of adapting more permanently to the European lifestyle. Given you have been through a mild version of this transition before, your undergrad study abroad experiences mainly act as the appetizer to the main course.
The Value of Being an International Grad Student
Aside from the intrinsic value of traveling, the cost of graduate school in Europe can be more affordable than many stateside alternatives, even with fluctuating currency exchange rates. Depending on area of study, the cost of taught postgraduate programs at the University of Edinburgh, an internationally ranked university, average at about $25,000 US dollars per year (more information can be found here). You can expect to pay nearly double that amount for comparable US universities. Many international universities are recognized by the US Department of Education, meaning you can still apply for student loans and federal grants. Also, many scholarship opportunities exist for international students at foreign universities. And another bonus, you can still reap the benefits of student discounts while you are a graduate student. Graduate school abroad is an investment; for a smaller price tag, you can earn a Master’s degree that sets you apart from the average job applicant, while enriching your global perspective.
Global Networking and Opportunities
Graduate programs abroad can be completed within a year or two, which differs from many American programs. The networking you do during this time, through academics or professional encounters, is invaluable to your ability to stay in Europe post-graduation. These opportunities probably didn’t present themselves during your fleeting semester abroad as an undergrad. As a graduate student, people tend to take your efforts more seriously, opening doors that didn’t previously exist. Also, being an international student is a desirable trait for companies looking to diversify their workforce, as you are inherently unique compared to most of the other applicants.
Establishing a more permanent residency, while working towards educational and professional development in Europe, or any foreign country for that matter, is too great of an opportunity to pass up. So, if you are serious about taking your short, but sweet, study-abroad experience further, graduate school abroad gives you the opportunity to get your foot in a previously unopened door.
For more advice on getting the most out of your education visit Smart College Career Moves.