‘My mind felt open’: What I’ve loved about studying abroad

07 Jun 2019,
By Vanessa R., Student at University of Glasgow

One reason why I did not want to keep studying at my old university in Germany was that I had the feeling I had experienced everything I possibly could in my little town.

Even though that meant leaving good friends behind, my beloved flat and many memories, I needed to move somewhere more exciting, challenging, and refreshing.

Sure, I could have stayed in Germany but I always felt drawn towards the UK as I had lived in London right after school, and I thought this could be my last chance to move abroad without being attached to a long-term job. Quite spontaneously, I decided to apply and, shortly after, my one-year postgraduate adventure could begin.

Looking back a year later, here are five of my favourite things about studying abroad.

It was refreshing to be in a place where I did not know anybody

The change of scenery opened my mind

Instantly, it was refreshing to be in a place where I did not know anybody and I had a whole city to explore. I have always been on the curious side so, for me, that means a lot of walking, exploring, and getting to know new people. When it comes to my concentration, my mind felt open, ready to start and absorb the new knowledge.

In Germany, I lived for three and a half years in the same small town and somehow I had the feeling of being stuck and bored, especially when it came to finding new ideas, opportunities, and inspiration. Moving abroad, with so many international students, a different language, and multiple inspirations from the various university programs, I instantly felt my energy flow again.

I experienced the language and culture beyond the books

Since finishing school, the main language I interacted with was English, especially due to my studies of English language and literature. Still, sitting in a classroom, writing essays, and giving presentations is nothing compared to interacting with people whose native language is English.

My first few days in Glasgow where even a bit tricky, as I had difficulties understanding some people due to their dialect. Even though I do so many things in English, after almost eight months living here, I can say that my language skills have improved enormously, vocabulary as well as pronunciation. Furthermore, I got into contact with a great culture with different food, dancing (which is not a big thing where I am from), and extremely friendly people around me. All aspects I would have not gotten even close to while sitting in a classroom only talking about it.

I made friends for life and felt supported at uni

When it comes to relationships, I refer to academic ones and personal ones. Again, no matter what people I spend my time with, they are from all over the world. During the first few days, I made friends from India, China, the US, the UK, and France, all linked by one language. Each person taught me something else, either customs from their culture, cooking skills, or simply what made them move abroad. Even though a lot of those friends are limited to my time here, I know that there are also friends for life among them.

When it comes to academic relationships, I was amazed right at the beginning. The connection between professors and students is closer than I have ever experienced before. Maybe it is due to the postgraduate studies, but somehow it seems as if all the professors pay close attention to providing the best support possible, whether during exam time or during the whole dissertation process. Overall, I felt immediately welcome, at home and well supported, no matter where I went.

I discovered new passions and interests

When you stay close to your home town, it is easy to stick to hobbies that you had since you were little. But I love to experience new things and I am always keen to try something new. The options to try unfamiliar hobbies are enormous here in Scotland.

What I chose to try, and ended up loving, was cèilidh dancing and hiking. Sure, it is possible to join a society but I decided to do each of those when I feel like it. So, whenever I have time and there is a possibility to dance or get out in the countryside, I seize the opportunity. Especially during more stressful times, it is amazing how relaxing physical but unusual exercise can be.

I developed as a person and grabbed new opportunities

New experiences are inevitably linked to personal development. Not only my language skills have developed, but also my personality. Coming abroad on my own, I have to deal with everything myself, even if this only means budgeting my money. Throughout the past months, I’ve grown, strengthened my opinion, voice and visions, and became more passionate about what I would like to pursue in the future.

This also means being open to new opportunities. This can be opening up my horizons personally, but also opportunities that opened up because I have studied abroad, made important contacts or had the chance to shift my point of view towards a new field of interest. No matter if it is personal development or gained academic experience, in the end, it always makes an excellent impression wherever you go.

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By Vanessa R.
Student at University of Glasgow