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How to choose the ideal study destination for you

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There are many factors to be considered when choosing your study destination, and in this article we look at how to approach the main questions that will help you work out where in the world you would like to study. We have covered choosing your course in another article and this will decide what it is that you will study for possibly the next few years, but in this article we look at where you will be living during your studies.

You should think about the following questions when deciding where to study:

The language of your studies

Possibly the most important factor in choosing where to study is the language in which you wish to undertake your studies. Deciding on the language will help you narrow your choice of available study destinations. You may also wish to study part of your degree in a second language, so you can improve your language skills at the same time of studying.

If you are choosing an English speaking destination you might be interested in studying in some of the world’s most popular study destinations. In recent years, these have included the USA, the UK, and Australia. The UK and USA have an excellent reputation for education, their institutions account for the entire top 10 universities in the THE rankings.

READ MORE: University Rankings Explained

If you wish to study in a French speaking country, France and Canada are both incredibly popular international study destinations that offer programmes taught in French and in English. You may find courses partly taught in your second language.

Other popular destinations for students in Europe are Italy and Germany. You may study in these countries in English, or find courses that are taught in Italian or German.

Beyond English speaking nations and Europe, both China and Japan are very popular study destinations for students. While China does offer many bachelors courses taught in English, and you can also find courses taught in English in Japan, it is popular for students studying in both of these nations to elect for courses taught in Chinese and Japanese.

Spanish is the second most popular natively spoken language in the world, and if you wish to study in Spanish, or its sister language of Portuguese, there are many options from which you can choose for your studies.

The most popular to consider are Spain for studying in Spanish, and Portugal and Brazil for studying in Portuguese.

The style of education

Your curriculum when studying at university will be fairly similar no matter in which country you choose for your studies, with a mixture of lectures, seminars, exams, projects and research making up the typical bachelor’s degree. Common standards of education between countries ensure that awards are typically equivalent, the Bologna Process being a great example of agreements between nations that have helped to ensure that this is the case.

There are, however, subtle differences between teaching methods between countries that will impact the way in which you go about your studies.

For example, in the UK you choose at the beginning of your degree course the subject that you wish to study for the entire duration of the course. In the USA, you do not have to declare your major until the end of your second year of studies, giving you a wider core curriculum of study before you choose your specialization.

In the UK, teaching methods tend to be more self-directed for students, with lectures and some seminar groups and your final dissertation forming the bulk of your studies.

In the USA, you will be expected to attend and participate in much more classes, and your learning will be a much more social experience.

What lifestyle do you want during your studies

The country and city in which you choose for your studies will make a large difference in the lifestyle you can expect. Firstly consider what kind of area you would like to live in. Would you like to live in a large bustling city like London, Paris, Singapore, or Hong Kong? Or a beautiful city steeped in culture like Barcelona, Milan or Rome? Perhaps you would prefer to have the sea on your doorstep by studying at one of Australia’s coastal cities such as Sydney or Brisbane.

If natural countryside beauty is what you would like as your study backdrop, you might wish to study in New Zealand or even in Iceland, such as at the University Centre of the Westfjords!

Consider also the lifestyle you would like to have. Would you like to live in a country that favours a slower pace of life? Perhaps you want to take part in a particular sport or hobby outside of your classes, that is popular in a specific country. What kind of weather would you like to experience during your studies? Also consider the kind of, and the availability of, accommodation you would like to live in during your studies.

There are plenty of aspects to consider when thinking about the living conditions you would like during your studies, and you should consider what you find the most important to you when choosing your study location.

Student Visas

Once you have narrowed down your options based on your course choice, language, where you want to live and the style of the education you want, it’s important to consider the required aspects of studying abroad that you, or your education agent, will have to arrange.

One of these is arranging a student visa for the country you have chosen. Depending on your country of origin and the country you have chosen to study at, a student visa is likely to be mandatory. If you are moving between EU countries, you don’t need to arrange a student visa.

The application process for a student visa can vary depending on your chosen destination, your citizenship and your intended course of study.

Read our article about International Study Visas to learn more, and the costs of student visas for some information about the likely costs of applying for a visa.

University Entry Requirements

Once you have chosen your place of study and university course, you also need to make sure that you will meet admission requirements. You can find the admission requirements for your chosen course on the university website. There will be equivalent academic requirements provided for your home country.

You can also read our advice article, How to find university course admission requirements, for more information on finding admission requirements.

If you are planning to study a course taught in English and you are not a native English speaker, you may also be expected to meet English language requirements. These will be in the form of meeting a level specified by your chosen university in English language tests such as IELTS and TOEFL.

You can read more about English language testing in our article here.

Study Costs

For many students the decision of where to study will simply come down to costs. Studying abroad can vary greatly in cost. Not only can the cost vary between countries, but also between regions in the same country, and by university.

It is important to remember that tuition fees are only one of the costs involved with overseas study. You must also consider accommodation, travel, cost of living and other costs like health cover and insurance.

Read our detailed article, How much does it really cost to study abroad, to get an idea of the likely costs involved of studying abroad in several popular study destinations.

Employment opportunities

An overseas education will show future employers that you are a determined individual and can really help to improve your chances of finding the right job for you in the future after you have completed your studies.

However, finding work in your chosen study destination following your studies can be more difficult. Some countries such as the USA have heavy restrictions on work visas.

In the UK, if you have completed your studies and your student visa, you may work full-time until the visa expires. After this, there are several different routes through which you can apply for a visa to stay in the UK for work, such as the Graduate Route visa and the Skilled Worker route.

For more information on working after studying, read our article Working After Studying – The Different Rules in Each Country.

Experiencing different cultures is one of the most exciting aspects of an overseas education. This experience can be both personally and professionally rewarding.

Good luck on choosing your study destination.

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