Education abroad: What makes it different
There are many compelling reasons to study overseas – from the opportunity to broaden your horizons to the cost. Amber Patton is two-time international student studying for her Master’s at the University of Limerick. In this blog, she shares her top 6 reasons to pursue education abroad…
The first time I went abroad was in high school, there I toured Europe and acquired a taste for the international experience; a taste that drove me to study abroad to UL back in 2012. Now, for a third time, I find myself in Europe continuing my writing career in the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Limerick. Over the past four years I’ve researched the pros and cons of earning an education abroad. Here are five reasons why I think studying abroad is different and something everyone should consider…
Depending on what type of course of study you choose to do, most European Master’s Programs are one to two years in length. They are offered as part-time or full-time and are organised much like an undergraduate degree. There are weekly classes, homework, essays, exams and group-work.
MA class sizes vary depending on your course. There are currently 11 writers in my MA and we have between four and five classes per week. We meet once a week with our course director, Joseph O’Connor, and have a workshop session. There we read, edit and discuss each others’ writing. The remaining classes are chosen out of a list of electives.
I earned my Bachelor’s Degree at a private university on the West Coast of the US, and the homework was indescribable. I averaged five to six hours a night, and the workload would pile up every day.
However, now that I am in a more specialised field of study for my Master’s, the three to four hours are spent writing the next chapter of my novel, or reading James Joyce’s Ulysses. If you choose to do a Masters in a different part of the world, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that while the course workload might not change, it is more enjoyable because you are doing something you actually like.
For my fellow Americans traveling abroad, the Irish grading system confused me at first. Once you get the hang of it, it isn’t so bad. In America, the grading is set out of 100%. 90% or higher is an A, while anything below 50% is a not passing. That is not the case for the Irish grading system.
The chart above gives a general outline of the grading system in Irish universities. You can see that the points are still out of 100 but instead of there being a set percentage like in the states, the grades have an “upper” and “lower” limit, meaning grades rely heavily on the student’s performance at the end of the semester in the form of an exam or an essay. While in the States, professors usually grade students “overall” performance throughout the semester.
Let’s face it, the cost for education is on the rise. On average, American students take out loans for about $35,000 a year to pay for their education. However, for those who want to pursue any degree higher than a BA, might want to consider going abroad. It will literary save you time, and money.
The average cost for a Master’s degree in the states is between $40,000- $120,000 and that depends on the years required for the degree. While in comparison, many European programs cost between €4,000-€5,000 for EU students and €10,000-€11,000 for international students.
If you want to continue your education, but are afraid to take out more loans, then look for programs outside the States. What you may find, might surprise you.
Many fellow international students may agree that the expectation of students in European schools is very different than in the States. Things like coursework, attendance and proper behaviour in lectures are left to the individual, instead of enforced or graded by the professor. While some may abuse this freedom, I think it is a freedom that all students have to have. Students are expected to show up to class, do the recommended reading and projects, not always for the grade, but because it will helps prepare them for the final exam. If a student chooses not to attend a lecture, or is out sick, it is their responsibility. In many US universities, this wouldn’t be the case. By giving the student more freedom, it actually helps them grow and hold themselves accountable for their education.
If going abroad taught me anything, it is that the world is far bigger than I ever imagined. Being in Ireland has opened my eyes to new cultures, religions, practices and to people from all around the world. Classes don’t just have Irish, British and American students, but students from Hungry, Turkey, Germany, Spain, China, Japan, India, and hundreds of other countries. Every day I meet someone from a different part of the world. But, also, you get to share your own culture and beliefs. Education abroad will expand not just your knowledge of your field of study but expose you to the rest of the world and all it has to offer.
Choosing to go abroad for your education is a huge step towards independence and growth. I will be the first to say that it is terrifying, thrilling, difficult and beneficial. However, receiving a degree abroad will expose you to new parts of the world and prepare you in different ways for life as an adult.
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