How To Decide Where To Study A Masters or PhD Program in EuropeFind your PERFECT POSTGRAD PROGRAM
Europe is full of beautiful and interesting cities – Paris, London, Frankfurt, Barcelona, Rome, Vienna, Stockholm, Helsinki – the list is endless, so deciding where to study is a difficult choice. You’ll be there for at least a year so the location of your university is very important, it has to be somewhere you’ll enjoy living, a place that you can make your home. Location is important because you need to find somewhere to live and study that keeps you motivated, this will enable you to study effectively as well as enjoy your everyday life. To put it simply the location needs to suit you - our section on European Destinations will give you more advice on what different places in Europe have to offer.
So what do you need to look for when deciding on the perfect location? The easiest thing to start with is to think about where you have always wanted to go the most, and then if the universities in that particular country, town or city offer a course that is right for you.
Check out the university campus
University campuses often look very attractive, and these aesthetics alone can be a big draw. Most university websites will have images of their campus and maps of what is around the campus. Some university websites may even have a virtual tour for you to take around the campus to get a more realistic feel of what the campus is like. It is a good idea to gain an impression and knowledge of the campus to see if it suits you and provides you with what you want. Many questions you may have can probably be answered by a brief ‘tour’ of the website, for example, does it have a wide variety of cafes? What are the library opening times?
Another important point to consider is how safe is the location of the university and area which surrounds it. If you intend to stay at university until late then the transport links have to be good and the area has to be safe for you to walk around in. It is very important that you feel safe and secure in the area you chose to live and study in, particularly if you have come from a different country to pursue your postgraduate studies.
City vs Rural
One of your main considerations in terms of university location has got to be whether you want to opt for the city life or the rural life. Are you more of a city person who needs coffee shops to open for those midnight coffee runs for the essay you haven’t finished yet? Or do you like the countryside for an early morning run or an evening walk? The city versus rural life is a big choice because you need to find the right place that has the perfect balance for you of what you want and what you want to get out of from doing your postgraduate course.
There are pros and cons to both city and rural locations. Cities are better in terms of longer opening hours of shops, cafes, gyms and better travel. But rural places are better in terms of less traffic and crowds, fresh air and a calmer atmosphere. Cities generally do have more activities for you to do such as visiting museums, art galleries, better variety of shopping facilities and a huge variety of restaurants and bars to visit. But the country places have nice boutiques, more history, and one-off locations and shops that are hard to find in cities. It all depends upon the type of person you are and what you like.
Field of interest
What is your area of interest? As this could have some bearing on where you choose to study. For example, if you are interested in an environmental postgraduate program, then it may be better to be based in a more outdoorsy country such as Scotland or Norway. Or if you are doing an economics master’s it may be better to be based in or near to a big financial city such as Frankfurt or London so it is easy for you to network and do work experience in the financial sector.
Visa requirements may also affect your location choice. Depending on what country you are from, it may be easier for you to study and do part-time work in some countries rather than others. For example, if you are from a country within the EU, then you are able to work part-time more easily throughout Europe than those students from other countries such as India. Some countries have links with each other through the Schengen Visa which allows residents to use one visa to travel easily to a variety of countries within the EU. It is issued to citizens of countries who require a visa before entering Europe. It allows for a maximum stay of up to 90 days within a six-month period.
Deciding where to study a postgraduate programme in Europe can be a long process, so be sure to discuss it with all the necessary people you think can help you. It is also possible to talk to the university you are considering to study at, as they can offer you more advice about the location of the university and what it has to offer.
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