Are you interested in studying abroad? If you’re still unsure about starting your Masters in a foreign destination, you need to know how colourful and magnificent this journey can be. Let’s take you through four things you will definitely experience as an international student.
Travelling and exploring
Ask anyone who has studied abroad and they will tell you that although it may be challenging, it is also a time for exploration. Your university years are unique because they provide a lot of flexibility to fill up your free time in almost any way you want. And living in a new destination means getting closer to yet even more unknown places!
During my Masters studies in the Netherlands, my friends and I hopped on the train to Brussels once. It was our first time there and although we didn’t have that much money to spend, having some warm soup on that cold day was such a cosy shared experience. Now that I’m a working professional, I know how valuable that moment was and I know how rare it is to be able to say “Let’s go to a museum” on a random Wednesday afternoon.
When you’re studying abroad, you get the privilege to discover the world in so many ways – in the literal sense, by travelling, and metaphorically, by learning and doing new things every day.
Of course, it’s true that you can be independent in your home country too. You could live in a dorm, learn to cook, and run daily errands. But going abroad teaches you much more than that. It takes you out of your comfort zone completely. It may be difficult at first, but it ultimately helps you grow like nothing else could. When your computer breaks down unexpectedly, when your monthly allowance starts to dwindle, or when your kitchen sink is leaking – you mostly have to rely on yourself to find a solution. You have to find a way to deal with difficult situations in a foreign country where you may not even speak the local language.
Now that I think back on these experiences during my university years, I am so glad they happened, because they taught me that I am capable and creative. And one more thing – even if your family isn’t nearby and ready to help, your new international friends will be there. No one will be able to get in your shoes better than them!
I will never forget what my father told me before I went to study in the Netherlands. He said: “Over there, nobody knows you so you could be anyone you want. Forget everything that has happened to you so far, just be the type of person you’ve always wanted to be.” As a young introvert who had never even gotten on a plane alone, this was a huge revelation! All of my worries and fears got that much more manageable when I realised the true meaning of this.
Getting your Masters degree abroad means you will continue to grow and evolve as a person, no matter your age. You may create new values to guide you or find strengths in your character you never knew existed. So reinventing yourself doesn’t mean not being true to yourself. On the contrary, it means letting go of the fears that may have been an obstacle in your life so far. It means finding the self-confidence and courage within you to make new friends, travel to unknown places, and plan your future career.
Going back to your roots
Living and studying abroad has the power to help you reinvent yourself, but also to make you appreciate where you come from. When you’re far away from home, you realise what you truly love about your background. It may be the food, the music, or even hearing your own language spoken back to you. Spending that much time in a foreign country will create a new, stronger connection between you and your own culture.
Meeting people with the same nationality or background as you can offer a unique experience. They will be the ones who can empathise the most when you’re thinking of your birthplace or craving your favourite food. They will help you create a little corner of your home away from home. Some of my closest friends today have the same nationality as me, even though I actually met them while studying abroad at university.
Hopefully, this can be a reminder that choosing an international Masters programme is not just about the new knowledge and skills you will acquire. It will be a tapestry enriched by all the people you will meet and the unique experiences you will live through together.