I’m sharing another college post today, this time from Aida. Aida’s story of going to college abroad in Europe is just too cool not to share! Hopefully, this helps shed some light on what it’s like to go to college in Europe.
Have you ever dreamed of traveling and getting to know a new culture?
I first started dreaming of going far away when I was starting college in my home country. I saw an episode of Glee where they all went to NYC. It sounds silly, but that’s when I got so obsessed with the idea of studying music in a more serious way and experiencing new things every day.
I investigated and read a lot and then I read some more. I talked about it to everyone who would listen. Of course, more often than not, people thought my dream was crazy or impossible or just expensive and unachievable.
After what it seemed for me like an eternity, I found an affordable college in an affordable city. I made a plan to save some money, and I applied to study music in Austria. And in simple (very cliche) words: It has been a dream come true, everything I expected and more, and I am happy and grateful each day for being here. Going to college in Europe has been the best decision for me.
I’m not saying it has all been easy. It required and still requires A LOT of sacrifices. I’ve been through some challenges, mainly because I came without a scholarship, but I’ve also learned to be patient and tackle each challenge one day at a time. I’ve been lucky enough to have sorted a lot of things out, and to be here enjoying this opportunity.
So, based on my experience (and some of the other immigrant friends’ experiences) here are 6 aspects of moving abroad to Europe for College. I hope it helps you decide if this is also a good option for you, and learn a bit about what it’s like to go to college in Europe.
1. Going to College in Europe is Affordable
Moving to Europe for college isn’t as expensive as one might think. If you’re from Latin America like me and are planning to go to a not-so-expensive-but-nevertheless-private college, you’ll probably pay around $300-700 per semester in Latin America.
To compare, a semester of college in Germany and Austria is around €300-800. It is not such a big difference if you think about it that way.
And if you live in the United States, then that is DEFINITELY a big difference. The money you can save on tuition and the peace of mind of knowing you will not be buried in student loans when you graduate should be relief enough.
(Sam’s note: Cue the sad violin music while I weep from my tower of private school student loans.)
2. The Cost of Living Might Be Different in Europe
In order to explain what it’s like to go to college in Europe, we’ve got to talk about the cost of living. How much does it cost to live in Europe? It depends on the city.
Let’s take the beer price as a living cost base. Where I live, since is really close to Switzerland, a beer in the supermarket can cost €1. In a bar, it can be around €4.5. In comparison, a nearby city in Germany, a beer in a bar can cost €2.5. So it really depends. How much does a beer in your home city cost?
(Sam’s note: At the supermarket, I can get a beer for around $1-2, though most people don’t buy single cans/bottles. At a bar, club, or restaurant, I can expect to pay $4-9 depending. Cries in Orlando.)
How much will you pay for rent in college? Back home, students who came to the capitol for college paid around $150 – 200 for a room to rent. If you’re in the United States and are going out of state for college I bet is a lot more.
(Sam’s note: This depends on whether you live on or off-campus. A lot of students live off-campus, which can be cheaper. In my mid-range city in Florida, I paid around $450 for rent in college, though I’ve seen it done for more or less.)
Here, depending on the city and how close you are to the college (and how fancypants do you want to live) it can cost around €300 – 500. There are more expensive places, of course, but for a student lifestyle, I think more than €500 is a bit much.
3. There’s Room for Cultural Immersion
Is your small town suburb killing you inside? Are you planning on going to college in the same city you grew up in, and does that not appeal to you? Do you need a change of scenery? Did you dream of going to school in an interesting new city? If so, Europe is probably for you.
The culture here is incredibly different. I didn’t want to believe it at first, but since the arrival at the Zurich airport, I felt the difference in customs between here and in the United States. People have different manners, there is a bigger environmental conscience, and there is a different global conscience. It’s just a different culture worth exploring.
(Sam’s note: As someone who’s traveled to 15 European countries and over 20 states, I’d just like to add that I have experienced wonderful, inviting people in all parts of the globe and the United States. I have also had bad experiences. I’d urge everyone to avoid making generalizations and try new places with an open mind no matter where you go.)
Also, if you’re planning to study in Austria like me, you have the opportunity to learn German by immersion. Although it will not always be easy, learning something new each day is fun. Most people are really nice to immigrants who are making an effort to learn their language.
4. You Have to Face Your Independence
If your best option for college is in the same city where your parents live and you were imagining a little more independence to learn how to handle things by yourself, manage your own finances, and suffer the beautiful pains of growing up, then college abroad is for you.
There is nothing like the mixed feeling of fear and excitement whilst getting into the plane that will take you to the biggest adventure yet. Of course, you will miss everything you know, but there’s a world of opportunities waiting. There really are no words to express the emotions you feel when finally flying out of the nest. It’s fear in the best way possible.
5. There’s a Lot to See and Do Nearby
Once again, if you haven’t had the opportunity to travel much because maybe you live in a small city or a suburb, if you go abroad for college, I assure you that will totally change.
If you decide to go to Europe for college, chances are your school will be in a touristy type of city where you will be a couple of hours away from some other very cool and interesting cities.
Just getting to know your own city will take you so much time, there will be so much to see and people to meet. It’s exciting to think of all the new experiences you are going to be able to have. This is one of the best realities of what it’s like to go to college in Europe.
6. You’ll Have Endless New Experiences
In conclusion, the best things about moving abroad for college are the new experiences you’ll have. The new people, culture, food, customs, and lifestyle all make it worthwhile. You will find a new thing each day. It really has no comparison.
What It’s Like to Go to College in Europe? Amazing.
If you have any doubts, make a list of the things that are holding you back. Then, make a plan to tackle them. Talk about this option with your loved ones and keep in mind that your dreams are yours and it is never too late to start working on the projects that will make you happy.
Leaving what you know will never be easy, but what you’ll learn will be worth it. Thanks for letting me share what it’s like to go to college in Europe! I hope this inspired some of you to take the plunge as well.
Aida Barberena is a Latin American engineer currently studying in Austria to pursue her longtime dream of becoming an opera singer. She writes about her experiences as a student living abroad in her blog The Traveling Choir Girl.