Graduating from college was the first time I truly felt my life was completely my own. There weren’t classes for me to show up for, a paper to write, or a reading assignment to finish. I had no glamorous, full-time job lined up—only the distant plan of attending graduate school on the horizon.
In short, for the first time, I had absolutely nowhere to be.
I took my newfound freedom and ran with it. I ran with it all the way to Amsterdam and beyond. I spent the summer backpacking around Europe, discovering places I had only glimpses of knowledge about (mainly through my heavily congested Pinterest travel board). I met people so intriguingly similar to myself in a country so drastically different than my own that I wanted to know absolutely everything about them and the culture that shaped them.
While the idea of going abroad for my master's was planted as a result of these experiences over the course of an incredible summer, my actual decision to pursue this plan was a result of a whole set of differing factors. Factors that included tuition rates, admission requirements, program length and the overall cost of attendance—i.e. rent, medical insurance, food costs, etc. After researching the European universities on my list, I determined that gaining my master's abroad would outweigh earning one from the States.
I determined that gaining my master's abroad would outweigh earning one from the States.
For starters, there's not as many admission hoops to jump through in Europe. Irish and Dutch schools, for one, don’t require standardized test results in their admission decision. That means no GRE (graduate record examination). Not only is that a pretty penny saved, that’s also weeks worth of time saved from studying.
Speaking of saving pretty pennies, tuition rates as an international student don’t seem like a major money saver at first look; the schools I researched were within the same range I paid in my undergraduate career. There was one glaringly important difference, though, and that’s that most master's programs abroad are only a year long. Compared to the average two-year program length in the States, this results in half the cost.
To make that deal even sweeter, most Irish institutions accept U.S. federal loans. That means no private loan vendors and the ridiculously high interest rates they come with. That alone made the decision for me. Everything else after that was an added bonus; medical insurance so cheap it seems almost free, affordable living accommodations, and of course, the once in a lifetime opportunity to live in a different country and to immerse myself in the Irish culture.
I will be attending the University of Limerick this coming fall for my MA in English Literature for all the reasons I have laid out in addition to my belief in that there is no greater tragedy than being comfortable staying in the same place when there is an entire world out there to explore.Add this article to your reading list