by Stella Thalassoudi
Choosing your studies or the university to do your Bachelor, Master or PhD degree is not as easy as you think and it takes longer than you expected in the first place. If you already have an idea or actually know what you want to do in the future and want to build a career on it later, the decision is not that difficult. But there are other factors you should consider.
1. Programme of studies
When you know your field of studies the next step is to see which country is best to choose. For example, when you are interested in language studies, the best you can do is to study it in the country, this particular language is spoken. This will be a great advantage for you since you will learn to speak like a person, who lives there, and you have the chance to practice and improve yourself every day. If you are interested in majors like economics, biology, engineering, medicine etc., you should do a research on the best universities, which are specialized in these fields.
2. Official language(s)
Another point you may need to acknowledge is the language(s) spoken in the country of your choice. Ask yourself the following questions: 1. Do I speak ....(the official language)? If yes, is my level of knowledge high enough to study in a university? If not, do I need to take language courses before starting the semester abroad? Is it a must for the university I am applying at?
In some universities, there are also programmes in English if you dont speak the official language.
3. Duration of your studies
Are you interested in a Bachelor degree, which normally lasts 3 years? (in some countries it is 4 years or more). Or a 2-year-Masters degree? The main question is why you want to study abroad. Are you looking for different experiences or do you want to work abroad after you get your university degree? I am asking this because it is vital to get informed about the degree recognition. There are many people, who studied abroad and couldnt get a recognition of their university diploma in their
home country or it took a long time and money to make it. If I were you, I would get informed about that beforehand.
4. Choose central or more suburban areas?
Central areas offer a wide range of opportunities. That can mean finding a job easily, whether full-time or part-time, travelling to and from there without big inconveniences, getting easy access to banks, post offices, city center etc. For some, especially young students, nightlife is a crucial aspect to consider, something, which varies from city to city. In smaller cities, there will be fewer nightclubs and bars than in the central ones. Although some find it dull and not at all exciting, for others it is a relief not having too many distractions during their studies. But everyone should choose according to their own personal likes and dislikes.
5. Tuition fees/financial aspects of your studies
The tuition fees is another fact to take into account before making your final decision. Most universities have tuition fees. If you or your parents can afford them, it is not a problem. If not, there are ways to get the necessary amount such as scholarships if you have good grades, student loans, student jobs. There are many part-time jobs for students, who want to work and study at the same time. There are also part-time study programmes. It does take longer to graduate, but you can study and make some money at the same time. Of course, there are countries, which dont demand fees in most cases, like Greece for instance. Since last year, most universities in Germany are without tuition fees.
The weather is probably the last and less important thing to think about. If it is just for 2 years, I think most of the people could put up with a not-so-perfect-for-them-weather. For a longer period of time, it might be something to consider, if a place like Finland or maybe Sweden is unbearably cold or on the other hand countries like Spain, Italy, Greece etc. are too warm for people coming from northern countries or not warm enough for others coming from more southern countries.
A little advice
Apply in many different universities, even if you are not that interested in going. Things dont always come the way we would like them to. You might not get accepted at the university of your first choice, but maybe you will get in the second one. Minimize the search by excluding universities, which dont have the programmes you are looking for. Start by putting the most crucial factors in an order, taking into account the priorities you want to set. For example, the programme of studies is the most important, the second one is the language or the tuition fees... This may clear some things up and help you make a decision.
This process is sometimes hard and exhausting, but it is really worth it! Having a diploma in something you really enjoy or even love, is something huge and with big value and importance! Besides for the diploma you receive in the end, you win so much more. You learn about different cultures and have the chance to live multicultural experiences, you meet new people in your life and you see the world with a different eye than you used to in the past!