Studying abroad in Europe is one of those things every person should do at some point in their life. An abroad experience offers more than just a change of scenery and a new school, it will open your eyes to new cultures, traditions and ways of life. It is an invaluable learning experience that extends far beyond the classroom.
Everyone’s studying abroad experience is different – from the country of choice to the city, to the school, to the little details. Not very often are there two experiences that are the same but you can learn from others’ mistakes and what they went through to help guide yours.
Today I will share my TWO studying abroad in Europe experiences and give you the down low on everything I learnt and experienced along the way.
In This Post
My Studying Abroad Experience
My study abroad experience has two parts; one my international exchange during my bachelor’s degree, and two my higher education degree abroad. Both experiences were very different but very worth it.
Short Term International Exchange – Application
My international exchange during my Bachelor’s Degree was an exchange between my home country Canada to The Netherlands for six months. The city I choose was Amsterdam and I studied at Hogeschool van Amsterdam. This exchange was organized through my University and the application process was as follows:
- Step 1: Go to an exchange program information session. Here you will find out which schools your school has partnered with (you can only apply to the schools your home university has an agreement with) and important dates and deadlines.
- Step 2: Pick your top 3-5 schools and learn more about the city, past students experiences, and offerings (housing, VISA, courses, semester dates)
- Step 3: Fill out an application. At my school, we were told to put down our top 5 choices and there was only a certain amount of “seats” available in each school so the seats were allocated based on GPA.
- Step 4: Recieve the news of what partner university you will be attending and start preparations.
*NOTE: all of this starts one year before my exchange so be prepared and on top of your school’s exchange calendar a year in advance.
Short Term International Exchange – Preparing to Go
After getting accepted into a school you will have to start getting prepared in various ways for the adventure. Some things you will need to consider are:
- VISA requirements
- Housing abroad
- Courses / credit transfers
For expereince with these topics for my exchange from Canada to the Netherlands went as follows:
- VISA – As a Canadian, I was able to get a working holiday permit which allowed me to live and work in the Netherlands for up to one year. I didn’t need a visa like other countries so this made the process a little bit easier. However to get this permit I had to go to the nearest Dutch Embassy and get my birth certificate signed and approved. Once I arrived in Amsterdam all the exchange students went to a presentation and the ones who are eligible for this work permit were given extra information on how to register for this in Amsterdam.
- Housing Abroad – Once we were excepted we were put on the international housing list and we were given student accommodation. We had to fill in our budget and then we were sent a link to choose our housing a few months before we went to Amsterdam.
- Courses / Credits – Every school is different in this regard so you will really need to look into it however for my school as long as we hit a certain amount of credit courses that was fine and the grades we got well on exchange did not affect your GPA.
- Flights – Be sure you look at when your semester starts and when it ends before you book your flights you want to make sure you actually get all the credits and you don’t leave too early before you can keep them.
Short Term International Exchange – On Exchange
The experience on the exchange is the smoothest and easiest part everything is organized and set up for you your classes are already ready your housing is set up and the school makes it very easy to keep you informed and in line. On the very first day of arrival the host university picks you up at the airport and brings you to a centre where they help you organize everything such as setting up a bank account in that country, registering for the government there, and getting all your housing keys and information.
Once everything is sorted you’re ready to live your life a broad and never turn back.
Higher Education Abroad – Application
My six month strange I decided I was in love with Europe and Amsterdam and wanted to further my education and decided to do it abroad. I chose the University of Amsterdam to do my masters because it is a really good university, it is in the city I felt very comfortable in, and I like their program offerings.
Getting into higher education as an international student requires quite a few steps and things you have to do in order to get excepted. In my case I needed:
- A GMAT test score
*Other requirement I was exempt from: English test
The GMAT took a few months of studying while also finishing my final year of my bachelors which was quite intense. However, my grades were quite good and my teachers gave me great recommendations.
So applied to two universities in Amsterdam just to double my chances however I did get into my first choice so I excepted the offer and prepared for my one-year Masters in Amsterdam.
Higher Education Abroad – Preparing to go
For higher education abroad the move is not organized by your school so you have to do all the planing on your own. Look into:
- Program requirements
I got a student visa, I found housing through my university, and I signed up to all the newsletters and went to all the welcome days and presentations before school started.
Higher Education Abroad – During Studies
Work hard, meet new people, get an internship, prepare for graduation. Once you graduate you can look for a job, or just celebrate the new degree under your belt.
All About Studying Abroad in Europe
Studying Abroad for an Exchange Progam
Studying abroad in Europe is most commonly done through an exchange program. Exchange programs are set up with partnerships between schools. This means that your university will have an agreement with a certain number of different universities around the world and this agreement means the students from your university can go to those ones and students from the partner universities can go to your home university.
Most schools have different requirements an application processes for exchange programs so be sure to look at your specific institution to know what it requires. The main factor determining what school you will be placed with and if you will even be going on exchange at all is your grades. At my school you put your top three picks and the choices were allocated based on grades.
After the school goes through all the applications and provide everyone with a partner university you can start setting up for your time abroad. Both your home university and your partner university will be very helpful with us they almost likely give you all the information you will need and guide you through every step of the way.
Higher Education Abroad
Higher education abroad is a great option for anyone who wants to live abroad and study for a year or two. There are a ton of higher education institute broad and if you are from North America you know that higher education like a Masters is quite expensive and the prices in Europe are quite lower. If you are looking to advance your education and experience an international diversity doing your higher education abroad is a great option.
Where to Study Abroad in Europe
There is no bad place to study abroad in Europe. Everywhere in Europe is beautiful, the education is different and interesting from what you’re used to, and Europe is small so you can travel around from any place in Europe easily to every other country. Some countries are a little easier to assimilate with while others are a little more of a culture shock. Here are the top place places that are easier to feel comfortable in
Top 5 places to study abroad in Europe
- The Netherlands
Tips for Studying Abroad
Here are some tips for studying abroad
- Stay on top of everything! Make sure your VISA, housing, application process are all well looked after to ensure you have a smooth stay
- Maintain good greats while abroad
- Try to learn the local language!
- Eat the local cuisine
- Meet people beyond exchange students
- Immerse yourself into the cultural aspects of the city/country you are in
- Travel LOTS
- Save money before you go so you can enjoy the experience stress-free
- Book your flights in advance for the best fairs
Are you eager to study abroad in Europe now? If you have any questions leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!
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