Are you thinking of studying abroad in Europe but don’t know how to start? Nowadays, earning your degree or part of it abroad has become a vital tool for students to grow personally and professionally. With over 5,400 institutions, a cohesive higher education policy, a safe environment, and an amazing cultural and historical heritage, Europe has a lot to offer you as a student. On this article, I explain the steps you should follow to come study in Europe and give you some pieces of advice on the essential factors to consider when preparing your foreign study experience in Europe.
* STEP 1: Have you already started your higher education studies? There’s a great difference between applying for studies abroad in Europe as a first-year student and moving from a university or college from another country: – If you are not enrolled at any higher education institution in your home country and would like to study as an undergraduate student in Europe, you may need to prove you have successfully passed your upper secondary school / high school studies and your school leaving examination. If you passed the leaving examination and your home country signed the Lisbon Convention or have a reciprocal agreement with the country in Europe where you will be studying, you might be exempted from taking the examination again. To check the validity of your previous studies at high school to continue to higher education studies, you should contact either the university or college of your interest or the ministry of education of the country where you will be studying. Which one you will have to contact vary depending on the country in Europe. – If you are already studying at university or college in your home country and would like to study abroad in Europe, you may continue reading the step #2.
* STEP 2: Decide whether you will be an exchange or a free mover student. If you would like to study your entire degree in Europe, coming as a free mover student might be the most appropriate option for you. If you would just like to study abroad in Europe for a specific period of time, participating in an exchange program between your current school and its counterpart in Europe might be the best approach. It is important your firstly evaluate your status as a student, as it will determine how to apply for studies abroad in Europe. Among the differences between being an exchange or a free mover student in Europe, I would mention these ones: – Exchange students submit their applications through their coordinator at their home school, while free movers must arrange all the documentation by themselves. – As an exchange student, you will be charged moderate or no tuition fees at all, while you will have to pay full tuition and registration fees as a free mover student. – Keep in mind that if you intend to return to your home school, you should make sure you agree in written with your teachers what courses you studied abroad will be recognized once you are back. This is usually done through a document called “Learning agreement”. – In general, exchange students follow different application deadlines than the usual dates.
* STEP 3: Find a school that best meets your academic profile and personal expectations.This is the most time-consuming part of the process of organizing your foreign study experience in Europe. When selecting a school in Europe, you should consider factors such as: – The language of instruction: in Europe, you can study in many languages, such as English, Spanish, French, German or Italian, just to mention a few of them. Don’t be afraid and take the chance to improve your foreign language skills. Many schools in Europe offer languages courses addressed to their international students. So you may be able to earn a degree while learning or improving your foreign language skills. In fact, I studied Swedish while earning my degree. The language of instruction of my lectures was Swedish! It might seem hard in the beginning, but the result is truly rewarding. – Social activities: does your school offer activities to get you socially integrated in the campus life? It’s not just about having fun, but also about learning more about the country where you will be living in and getting to know other people who are in the same situation as you. You will even make very good friends! – Accommodation offer: does your school provide you with accommodation at the campus or help you find a place to stay? You should look for an accommodation option before coming to Europe. – Career opportunities: think of the possibilities available for you after you finish your studies at the school you chose. Do they also help you with career development?
* STEP 4: Take the admission tests. This might not always be the case but, for certain competitive study programs, students are required to pass an admission test. The results you obtain at those tests will determine whether you will finally be admitted. In the event you are applying for studies related for fine arts, you may also be required to pass aptitude tests.
* STEP 5: Prepare your student visa and residence permit. Once you have selected your school and have been admitted to the study program of your choice, you may initiate the process of applying for a student visa or residence permit. Students from certain countries or planning to stay in Europe for a period of time longer than 90 days, will have to apply for a Schengen Visa and/or a residence permit. Usually the application for a residence permit and a Schengen Visa is carry out through the embassy or consulate in your home country, where you can also address any questions you may have.
I hope the pieces of advice are of help and encourage you to come study in Europe. Welcome to Europe!