Assorted Thoughts

Attending Grad School Abroad: Why it was the Best Decision for Me

When I tell people where I am going to school next year many of them look at me with a confused expression and promptly ask me “why would you choose to go abroad” or “Doesn’t the US have great schools though?” and while these are understandable questions, my answers are also valid. I have elected to attend the University of Manchester this fall to pursue my Master’s of Science in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. (Yes that is really a field of study and no I didn’t make it up).

There are many reasons that I am choosing to attend graduate school abroad and there are many reasons other people should consider it as well. Here are just a few of the benefits that I have come up with:

1. Cost

Surprisingly, it will cost me less to get a master’s in England than in the USA. Reasons for that include tuition being lower, the program only being one year instead of two and the overall cost of living. There are also an exorbitant amount of scholarships for attending grad school abroad, you just have to be sure to apply early enough. Moreover, in countries such as Germany, tuition is either nonexistent or the cost is negligible. AND you can usually receive the same US Federal loans you would receive attending school in the states.

2. Amazing Programs

If I had chosen to stay in the USA for grad school, I would have most likely ended up in a regular History program on the History of Science Track. This means I would receive less specialized training and have fewer experts in my particular field to assist me. In addition, there are almost no standalone Master’s programs with my concentration, so I would have been required to apply directly to PhD programs. With my program at Manchester, I have the flexibility of a standalone Master’s degree and after that year I can choose to apply for and continue to my PhD or I can decide to take time off first. As someone who took until their senior year of college to decide on a life plan, I love this flexibility because it gives me the chance to really evaluate if this is the right path for me before I get in too deep.

3. A Change of Pace

While consistency is nice, change is inevitable and I would rather throw myself headfirst into a big change than sit around waiting for change to happen. Going to school abroad is a great way to create change in your life. My biggest struggle in college was not feeling motivated. Whether it was the environment, certain professors that didn’t care about their students, or the fact that what I was studying didn’t intrigue me, I was a pretty abysmal student. By going abroad for grad school, I will be in a different type of learning environment where I personally think I will thrive. The British University system is more competitive than in the USA but its also less focused on absolute perfection and for me that change of pace will be great.

4. Life Experience

Going to school abroad doesn’t only benefit me financially or personally, but it will also allow me to gain valuable experience that I can use in all aspects of my life. Living abroad can set you apart from other candidates for jobs or PhD programs and it can also allow you to spend a year (or more) experiencing life outside of the American Bubble. You can experience a new way of life, a new way of learning and simply just learn to get out of your comfort zone.

5. Adventure

There is nothing more exhilarating or terrifying to me than the fact that I will be moving to Manchester, England in the fall even though I have never visited before. I have been to England, but never Manchester, so I honestly don’t know what is waiting for me when I get there. Going to grad school in England means that not only will my schooling be an adventure, but I will also be able to travel on weekends and breaks to visit new places and to visit friends I have abroad. This ability to explore the world, while getting an education is one of the biggest reasons I chose to go abroad to grad school and I think its the most compelling reason that other people should consider it.

While these are all great reasons to go abroad for school, there are also plenty of downsides. I will have to leave my friends, family, and dog behind for the year and even if I come home at Christmas, it will only be for about 2 weeks Moreover, the upfront costs of attending school abroad can be a bit steep(enrollment deposits, plane fare, visa applications, etc.) and if you don’t have the money to cover such expenses you may have to postpone your education. For me the positives definitely outweigh the negatives and I encourage anyone and everyone to consider graduate school abroad.

As always, from one misguided millennial to the world, I hope you enjoyed what I had to say.

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