Anastasia is currently pursuing her M.Sc. in Health Economics, Policy and Law at Erasmus University Rotterdam. She found her programme and enrolled via StudyPortals. We asked Anastasia about her experience of searching and applying to a university abroad.
My name is Anastasia Tsakouridou, I am 25 years old and I come from Thessaloniki, which is the second largest city in Greece. Even before having completed my undergraduate studies in Business Administration, I wanted to study abroad in order to complement my knowledge, expand my horizons and meet new people and cultures. So when my graduation from the University of Macedonia was approaching, I started looking for postgraduate programs that suited my interests.
Although my undergraduate studies were business-related, I had always a deep interest in exploring different kinds of markets, so I started looking for postgraduate programmes that were focusing on health-care. After thorough research, I ended up having a list of different Master's programs offered by different European Universities; my first choice would be the university where I am studying now, Erasmus University in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) offering a one-year program on M.Sc. in Health Economics, Policy and Law.
Searching for study options
Although I was keen on studying in the Netherlands, as I had already followed Dutch lessons for three years due to my personal interest of learning new things, I did not rule out my other options form the start. StudyPortals was one of my closest friends assisting my choice with important information and relevant links. It provided me with search results according to budget, country and other criteria that were crucial in order to make an accurate decision.
Deciding for a university
When I found that Erasmus University offered a programme that suited my preferences, I did not make a decision on the spot. I searched for further information regarding not only the academic programme but other factors as well, such as accommodation, student life in Rotterdam, cost of living in the Netherlands, etc. Although the Netherlands was my first option, I considered a second programme as well; this programme was similar to the first one, but it was offered in Denmark, by the University of Southern Denmark. Although Denmark is another country that welcomes international students, it was still my second choice, as the university was located in a small city outside Copenhagen (Odense) and the programme would last for two years.
When I started applying, I was at the same time sitting language tests that would verify my level of English; in particular, as I had always been fond of the British examinations in English, I registered for the IELTS exam. I should admit it was a remarkable experience; despite the fact that the examinations were demanding and in consecutive order without any break in between, I do remember this examination for its impressive results, as I got a 7.5/9.
Well, when considering the option of studying abroad, everyone should keep in mind that it is not an easy decision to make and not an easy task to accomplish. There are difficulties in the integration, in the way of life in a foreign country, in the studying methods, etc. that we do not take into serious consideration when we try to make up our minds.
However, you should always remember that studying abroad is a remarkable experience as it has every potential to change your life afterwards. Despite the difficulties that may arise, you should not lose your persistence in achieving your goals and following your dreams. As for me, I had difficulties adjusting to the examination style they have in the Netherlands; despite the initial setbacks, I adhered to my personal plan and did not accept failure as an option. I also received invaluable support from my family and friends and I finally managed to overcome these difficulties.
If I were to rate my overall experience, I would put an 8 out of 10; although Rotterdam is a terrific city that everyone should visit when coming in the Netherlands (unique architecture, vivid student life, international orientation), my rating is undermined by the difficulties that I came across as a Master's student.
So my one and only advice to future Master's students would be:
Never get discouraged and always remember your goals!