Choosing the best destination to study
There are 195 countries in the world. There are 26368 universities. When you’ve reached the point in your life where you need to take the leap into further education, it’s almost impossible to know where to start!
Where do you go? What do you study? Why? There are so many things to take into consideration and so much of it will come down to your own personal preferences. There are a few things however to think about which can help you to narrow down your search. It might not be the most important decision you’ll ever make, but it’s probably the single biggest choice you’ve had to take up till now!
Money is probably the single biggest factor for most people deciding where to study, but you always need to balance it with the quality offered. Remember to consider the tuition fees, visa fees, accommodation, living costs and, of course, flights home every now and then. In Africa, one the best places to look is actually South Africa. There, you could get a degree for €12,000 per year (tuition and living costs).
Looking to North America, you could try Canada and you would be enjoying a Living costs are very low and you could easily budget everything for just €10,000!
It’s one thing to want to go somewhere, and quite another actually getting there. And once you have got there, you also want to consider how easy it is to travel on to other destinations. If you’re an adventurous person wanting to see it all, then Portugal is a great option. Visa processes are simple and fees are low, and best of all you can travel throughout the EU with no extra impediments. Flights and infrastructure are cheap and well developed, making it incredibly easy to explore and entire continent while you’re there. Where else is it so easy to spend one weekend in Paris and another in Casablanca?
Across the Atlantic, Brazil is also a good choice. USP is the best university in South America and São Paulo makes for a fantastic base to explore Brazil, which is a continent in its own right. If you get bored of the beaches of Rio, the wonders of the Amazon and the buzz of São Paulo, then you’re well placed to check out the rest of South America too.
Singapore is also a great option for people looking for something different. Visa applications are electronic, cheap and in English. This means getting into the country and then travelling onward to the likes of Australia, China and Vietnam is easy and cheap too.
If you’re willing to pay a premium, then perhaps you’ll want to consider the reputation of the schools and country you want to go to. It’s a well-known fact that lots of recruiters see certain university names on a CV and then look no further. According to the Times World University Rankings, either the UK or the USA should be your first port of call. They make up 90% of the top 10 ranked universities globally. We’ve all heard of Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Yale, so these are good places to start.
On the other hand, competition is fierce and an institution like Cambridge will have five applicants for each space, even once you’ve made it beyond the rigorous entrance requirements. Punching high above its weight is Portugal, with 9 ranked universities. It’s an increasingly popular option for international students due to its growing international profile and lack of correspondingly high fees and competition for places.
Undergraduate degrees last between 3-5 years. Can you imagine spending all that time in a place you hate just for a piece of paper? An interesting choice in South America could be Argentina. You’d learn the world’s second most spoken language and perhaps the tango, all while taking in the mix of the old and new worlds. Check out the National University of Cordoba if this excites you! Alternatively, for something a little more fast-paced and high-tech, what about the University of Tokyo in Japan.
There you would be almost guaranteed a day-to-day life like nothing you’ve experienced before. In Portugal, the Nova School of Business and Economics offers something more traditional alongside a first-rate education. Sun, sea, sand and surf (as well as one of the most vibrant and affordable capital cities in Europe!) awaits.
It’s a big step. We’ve seen how you can try and assess things in terms of cost, accessibility, prestige and culture but that barely scratches the surface. Portugal is a dream and fulfils so many criteria, but you need to make the choice that’s right for you. Whatever you do, think carefully and once you’ve made a decision, dive in with 100% commitment and have no regrets!