Studying abroad

Have any of you done a degree or PhD abroad? Please share your experience if so.

My son is 17 and I’m really trying to encourage him to think about doing his degree abroad. I’ve done loads of research and found lots of degrees he might be interested in (animation/game design/creative media etc) that are delivered in English and most of them are free or very cheap. Lots of great options in countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden etc.

We’ve said we would consider moving anywhere he wants to go. If this does happen I’ve been thinking that I’ll do a PhD as most European countries actually pay you to do one!

Any thoughts or advice would be good, thanks!

It seems to me that there would be very few (if at all?) downsides to this.


That’s brits abroad for you.

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I’ve studied plenty of broads


He’s open to considering it. To be clear, it’s absolutely his decision. If he wants to study in the U.K. thats his choice, but I think it’s important to give him all the information (we’ve also talked about degree apprenticeships) so he can make an informed decision.

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kinda doing something similar at the moment, and I’m 98% in favour. A few thoughts though:

  1. brexit…who knows what that could do to the situation
  2. even if the course is in english, may be more difficult to integrate with local students than it would in the UK, and international students would be a smaller pool of people who come and go all the time. Where I am all the local students go home every weekend too
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Seems like the ones in Netherlands and Germany are reeeeeally cheap/completely free, probably worth the lager snobbery

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Would totally move to the Netherlands


get him to do a really expensive social sciences degree in the world’s most expensive city, like me.


Yeah definitely valid concerns. I think he’d be quite keen to live in halls to have the whole student experience, and we would just base ourselves within an hour or two to where he studies (depending on a range of factors).

The Brexit thing is definitely something to be investigated. I’d hope that if the degree starts before we officially leave the EU then hopefully international fees wouldn’t apply for subsequent years. But maybe that’s naive!

Yeah I did social sciences. really useful! :joy:

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Some countries most people stay with their family and commute to uni.

Also for instance Germany and Austria, they don’t really have the same fixed length course as here. You graduate when you’ve racked up enough class credits, but a lot of people stop and start because there were no modules they wanted that term, the class was oversubscribed, they got a chance to earn some cash by temping, they want a break, that kind of thing.

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Ah ok, that’s good to know, thank you. I’d picked up on the fact that in some countries it’s a modular programme where you pick and choose the bits you’re interested in, but didn’t know that people stop and start.

Just running straight through is something for super-focused type A sort of people over there.

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I did most of my second year at a college in the Netherlands.

In retrospect, it wasn’t a great idea. The course was in English, but there weren’t many native English speakers on the course. I made friends with the guys I house shared with, but with nobody at all at college. If your son is gregarious and happy to just get talking to people without any knowledge of the language then it’s probably not a problem, but I had barely left Essex at this point in my life and didn’t adapt well.

Anyway, I ended up sacking off college and just got baked every day and just hung out. Was absolutely brilliant but I nearly failed the year because of it.

I did a semester at a French uni as part of my degree. I was an Erasmus student so my experience would be pretty different to a home student’s, but I found it really difficult to meet any French students and despite trying at first I just ended up making friends with other international students and other Brits. Like other people have said, the French students tended to live with their parents so they didn’t go out at weekends or even in the evenings really, think I went to one social event with French students in the five months I was there and the rest of the time I spent going out with Erasmus students. It could be different for your son though if he’d be starting at the same time as everyone else and classed as a home student in a way.

It’s a very different kind of university experience - student unions and societies are a much bigger deal in the UK, for one thing. I joined the mountain sports clubs at my French uni and went on a couple of day trips, but there was no social side to the club at all even though it was one of the biggest (and only) clubs on campus. Universities in the UK do a much better job of integrating students and encouraging them to get involved in that sort of thing, which at least for me was really key to making friends and doing stuff that wasn’t work. It felt like being back at school in comparison to my UK uni experience.

It really depends on the sort of person your son is: he could have a really good time if he finds it really easy to make friends and can adapt to the differences in the university experience, but most people I know who studied abroad found it pretty challenging.

I did a semester in Amsterdam and it was predictably great. Most of the friends I made were fellow short term international students, but I imagine if he was there for a longer time then it’d be easier. Also, when the course is in English, being a native English speaker makes you quite popular.

Not sure I’d suggest anywhere in the Netherlands outside of Amsterdam, Utrecht, Leiden and Rotterdam though. Anything else is a bit small and you’ll probably find that most of the students live with their parents. That’s a bit of an assumption though.

Yes I went to the two exotic and (for me) foreign countries called Wales and England. Thorgouhly bizarre experience as I’m sure you’ll understand.

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I was scared enough of going to uni in England, let alone travelling to a country where I didn’t speak the language and trying to go to uni there. Full credit to him if he decides he’s up for it, I’m sure he’d get a tonne out of it.

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I did one year in Finland - best experience of my life. Finland’s great because loads of their unis do their classes in english, plus there used to be no fees at all (I read something a few years ago about non-Finns having to pay fees soon but not sure if this happened, and it may have been for non-eu residents anyway).

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