When in Rome: Getting Your Undergraduate Degree In Europe

A foreign vacation or semester abroad is one thing - but becoming an international student for your entire undergraduate degree is something different altogether. While any experience overseas can be significantly life-altering, pursuing an entire degree overseas is a relatively major life decision that’s more than likely going to propel you into vast personal growth and shape your future for years to come. As such, completing an undergraduate degree in Europe is a huge decision – but that’s where StudentRoads comes in. Here are the top things that will probably happen to you if you decide to take the plunge and pursue your entire degree overseas.

You Will Have a New Beginning

Three years (or four, in some cases) is a long time and odds are you’re not going to know anyone where you’re going. This is both intimidating and exciting. What’s certain, though, is that pursuing an undergraduate degree in Europe offers you a new beginning – a new location, a new language, new friends, new food, a new living situation, and even new possessions. You’ll build a new life … in Europe.

You Will Change

Remember how different you were when you started high school compared to how you are now? Well, now you’re on your own and you have three or four years to study and see the world. The person you are when you step off the plane in, for example, Amsterdam will be a much different one when boarding your return flight years later.

You Will Learn a New Language

If you choose to study in a European country where they do not speak your native language there’s nothing like several years of cultural immersion to help you become fluent and multi-lingual. A degree program abroad combined with regular language classes and a reasonable amount of effort practically guarantees language acquisition, which is proven to rewire your brain and make you more intelligent (and isn’t that what you are going to university for in the first place?).

You Will Live Like They Do

Students who study abroad for a semester or two generally choose to live in on-campus housing or accommodations set up by the study abroad program. This is generally a better option for short-term students because of the convenience it affords as they don’t necessarily have the time or the knowledge to find a place on their own. You, however, should take advantage of the opportunity to truly become part of a local community. The non-campus housing you’ll find is likely to be more affordable and more in-line with the way your new peer group lives on a day-to-day basis.

You Will Fall In Love

Get ready to fall in love with a European – they’re all over the place there.

You Will Want to Go Home

Best to be upfront about it – the immense change you’ll put yourself through over there may get to you – at least once or twice. While it’s completely normal, a day can be unreasonably ruined because all you want to do is have a free glass of tap water and bread in a restaurant, retreat to your parent’s house, invite childhood friends over and watch old reruns of your favorite TV shows with them. Unfortunately in Europe, this isn’t possible. It can get hard.

You Will See Everything

Compared to the United States and Asia, travel in Europe is generally easier and more accessible as distances between A and B are shorter. Student discounts are also plentiful so always inquire to see if they are available. Budget airlines offer flights to many tourist destinations, and from these cities there is almost always rail service to get you where you want to go. You will quickly work out which border crossings are within the Schengen zone and at which ones you need to join the line of people to show your passport. Most students studying even six months abroad travel much of Europe, but with three or four years to play with, think of all the places you’ll go!

You’ll be Better Prepared for the International Job Market

International jobs and internships seek out candidates who have first-hand experience in an international environment, often with fluency in a second language. Cultural immersion demonstrates an ability to step outside of your comfort zone and interact with a diverse group of people – key in any work environment. Many careers are becoming more and more global so your résumé will look great to potential employers hoping to hire a person who already has in-depth knowledge and extensive experience with intercultural communication skills.

You’ll Make a Completely New Circle of Friends

You’re not taking any of your old ones with you, are you? Making a whole new circle of international friends is practically unavoidable; as are the new ideas and unique cultural experiences they will bring to your life. The bonds of friendships forged at university last a lifetime. Studying in Europe will give you access to friends who come from different countries, speak different languages and have a global perspective. It is an “instant network” of people to help you in your career and places to stay in cities around the world for years afterwards.

Coming Back Will be Strange… But You Have Probably Started on Your Path to a Lifetime of Adventure

By moving to another country and living in a new culture (or even multiple cultures) for a few years, the differences between your home country and university life will be pronounced, especially upon returning. All the things you took for granted that they didn’t have in Europe will be waiting for you when you get back home but some of the cultural aspects you’ll grow to love in Europe will be missing, too. However, you will continue to benefit from the diverse perspectives that you will have and will always see things through a global prism. Once you have opened yourself up in this way it is very likely that international study is just your first step in a lifetime of adventure.

[Top image credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock; Second image credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock]

© 2012 StudentRoads. All rights reserved. Do not reprint without permission.

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